Textured orchids and double-
hulled canoes unfold in
these original designs
By Suzanne Tswei
Special to the Star-Bulletin
IT'S easy to see that the orchids sitting on Jodi Fukumoto's dinner table aren't the real thing. But there aren't any fake orchids quite like hers. Her orchids are pieces of paper. Each folded and unfolded, frontward and backward, sideway and crossway, pinched and pulled to form a life-size dendrobium, Honohono or cattleya with anatomical details.
It is origami even the bees would appreciate.
"To me they are better than the real thing. They won't die," said Fukumoto, who has been inventing new origami for nearly 10 years.
The 42-year-old Fukumoto has designed more than 20 original models with Hawaii themes, everything from an erupting volcano, a double-hull canoe to a mongoose. But it is the orchid that catches everyone's attention when she demonstrates her craft at Bishop Museum.
Fukumoto will be teaching classes on how to make the orchid, Snow King Protea, aloha shirt and other designs beginning next week. Classes will be offered at Windward Community College and Temari, Center for Asian & Pacific Arts in Kaimuki.
Although the orchid seems to be quite complicated (there are 22 steps), Fukumoto said it is not as difficult as it looks.
"Folding a piece of paper is not that hard. Anybody can fold paper, but you have to be precise or the orchid or whatever it is you are making won't come out good," she said.
To make it easier for her students, she will fold the orchids, then unfold them, trace the lines and dot the important intersections before giving them to the students.
"This way, I fold it first so I know the lines are straight and the creases are made correctly. All the students have to do is to trace what I did. They don't have to start from scratch until they are ready," Fukumoto said.
Although precision, neatness and patience are important, the secret to making beautiful origami orchids is in the paper, Fukumoto said.
"Everyday origami paper doesn't have color on both sides and it's one solid color only. To make the orchid realistic, the paper needs to have the right colors in the right place, and the right texture really helps, too."
Fukumoto uses a pink-and-white Japanese paper napkin with floral patterns. She trims the napkin to perfect squares, taking care that the white shows only in a particular area within the square so that it becomes the lip of the orchid.
Fukumoto then glues a sheet of silver foil between two sheets of napkin squares to form one piece of paper. This way, there are colors and patterns on both sides of the paper and a shimmering silver undertone that shows through the slightly sheer napkin.
"To me, it's important not just to fold it like an orchid, but I wanted the colors to be realistic also. The foil underneath the napkin gives it a glow, kind of like real orchid petals."
For her Snow King Protea, Fukumoto uses soft and thick handmade paper imbedded with silk threads. She also creates a special paper -- a pink square with a white center -- to give it a realistic color scheme.
"The best part about doing these flowers is that you are making something not just beautiful ... the flowers are functional, too. They become nice decorations and that's a good, useful function in our hectic lives."
Fukumoto believes in simplicity and not being wasteful when creating her original origami designs. She put the principles to work in designing an aloha shirt origami for Star-Bulletin readers. The design uses a square sheet of paper, instead of the usual rectangular shape for a shirt, making the steps simpler and requiring less paper.
If you would like an instruction sheet mailed to you, send a stamped envelope with your address to ORIGAMI, Honolulu Star-Bulletin P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu, 96802.
Origami classesOrigami classes: Learn to make Snow King Protea, orchids, lucky frog pins, cards decorated with the state fish and aloha shirt
Where: Windward Community College noncredit courses, 235-7433; TEMARI, Center for Asian & Pacific Arts, 735-1860; classes vary at different locations so call for details
Cost:$12-$18 per class at WCC; $25 plus supply fee at TEMARI
When: Orchid class runs 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday at WCC; also WCC morning and evening classes through May and June; orchid class May 19 at TEMARI, King Protea class June 23 at TEMARI
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