Wrapped up in paper
A "kirigami" artist's paper-cutting skill amazes
In Hanako Yuuki's hands, dragonflies, beetles and other creepy-crawlies spring to life in a matter of minutes.
The "kirigami," or paper-cutting, artist, was among those participating Sunday in the Japanese Women's Society Foundation's annual Shinnen Enkai, or new-year celebration at Natsunoya Tea House. The group came together for an afternoon of renewing friendships through a luncheon with entertainment and a casual fashion show by Chieko Yamaguchi of Kimono Samba.
Yamaguchi will return from Japan for the society's annual fundraiser fashion show, "Open Your Tansu," April 13 at the Sheraton Waikiki, bringing her students to demonstrate ways of transforming kimono and obi into practical contemporary garments with a minimum of fuss.
My story about Yamaguchi will appear closer to the show, but for now the spotlight is on Yuuki, who caused a stir before Sunday's show started. People gathered around her table to watch her transform rectangular pieces of paper into insects, flowers and a mouse. She's also able to create kabuki masks, Disney characters, sea creatures and castles, all from folded pieces of paper.
The diminutive artist said she started cutting paper 10 years ago as a way to entertain her 3-year-old grandson. Through an interpreter, she said he loved insects and had been poring through an encyclopedia when he discovered a picture of a beetle.
"He begged me to find him one," she said. But in winter there were no insects around. After thinking about the dilemma for a while, she tried to make one out of paper.
COURTESY HANAKO YUUKI
Hanako Yuuki's creations start with a folded piece of rectangular paper. The carrot and hearts are cut out separately and inserted in the cutout slits.
"I tried five times to perfect it," she said, working as she does today by trial and error, based on her own mental pictures of various objects. She's able to capture the finest details of slim antennae and spiked legs in a mere 30 to 60 seconds. Her praying mantises are, at a quick glance, creepily lifelike and life-size.
She takes childlike pleasure in the simplicity of being outdoors in the countryside of Yuki city, about 80 miles northeast of Tokyo, and enjoys looking at insects and flowers herself.
While cutting the paper, she sings and dances as a way to entertain, just as she kept her grandson amused with her fluttering leaves and butterflies.
She doesn't teach the skill, which involves an analytical eye, knowledge of symmetry and a steady hand. "I just do it so people can enjoy," she said.
Tickets for "Open Your Tansu" go on sale in mid-February at $60, $75 and $100. Call Linda Iki at 944-9293 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org