September 23, 2011

Paper Birds

What's in your future?
Origami. No doubt you’ve heard of it. You’ve probably even made it. Ever try out one of those fortune tellers in high school? Don’t fib. You know you wanted to see if Jordan Catalano had a crush on you too. Or if you were going to be a pro-football star. How’d that work out for you, anyway?

So, what the heck is origami? It’s the traditional art of paper folding. The word is a blend of oru meaning “to fold” in Japanese, and kami meaning “paper.” Check out Between the Folds from PBS for more details on the history of this unique art.

Since the protagonist of my novel teaches origami, I decided to brush up on the techniques. It’s something I’ve done since grade school, when I first attended an art workshop. By the end of the day, I’d made a little hopping frog. At home, I made four more and raced them across the coffee table. You can find instructions on how to make your own hopping frog at Origami Club.

Won Park's Dollar Origami
I have to thank my SNHU MFA mentor, Merle Drown, for sending an origami guru's name my way. For some advanced (and amazingly cool!) origami made with dollar bills, check out Won Park's gallery on deviantArt. Seriously. Go there. There's a Millennium Falcon, Tie Fighters, and X-Wings made out of dollar bills. His book, Dollar Origami, is due out in November.

From the hopping frog on, I was hooked. Who wouldn't be? I begged my mom to buy me a book of designs and a package of patterned paper squares. I was desperate to learn the crane. It was considered good luck. Plus, it was pretty. And when you’re an eight-year-old girl, pretty things are the key to happiness. Just ask one.

Today, I can make this design hardly looking at the paper. The crane, as well as other paper birds, play an interesting part in my work-in-progress, revealing more than just layers of paper.

Here’s an excerpt:

At eight o’clock, Mac pooled the group together to walk back to the dorm wing.

“This is for you,” Cupcake said, passing the swan across the table. “Because you see into things.”

“Thank you,” I said, accepting the tiny bird. I didn’t know what she meant. “Goodnight, Mac.”

“See you Thursday.”

As I collected my markers and books, I could hear rain spatter against the high windows. The room didn’t echo, rather it absorbed the sound. Mayflower absorbed everything. In here I had no fear, no anger. I sat cross-legged on the edge of the round table and pulled on the wings of Cupcake’s swan.

She’d drawn an eye and some feathers. Not feathers. Arrows? I unfolded the swan back to a square. Inside, in purple marker, were scrawled the words: Just ask.