Accessible Origami Class Offered
For some years now I have been interested in taking an origami class. I would see them advertised all the time at my local library. But thinking they were probably not accessible I didn’t pursue it until recently. The American Printing House for the Blind offered a virtual weekend origami class via Zoom. When I saw this opportunity I knew it was time to satisfy my curiosity and learn something new.
Surprise by Mental Benefits
Well, I was not disappointed. Not only did I learn how to make origamis but how to stimulate my brain in the process. And what a surprise! I had no idea that taking an art class would do so much to energize my cerebrum. It has been documented, tasks that challenge our minds strengthen our brains. Now, before I get to all the wonderful mental benefits I acquired let me pause and explain what an origami is and how things work.
What is an Origami
An origami is the Japanese art form of folding paper. When the paper is folded it creates either one- or two-dimensional objects. These objects can go from simple to the most complex depending on the numbers of folds. Typical origami objects are cranes, flowers, boxes, airplanes, boats, fish, rabbits and dogs.
Since I was taking a beginner class the instructor kept it simple. In other words, no complicated animals or other objects. During the 90-minute class I made two origamis. The first was a corner bookmark and second was a snack cup/pocket similar to the containers for fries at fast food restaurants. As I was creasing and folding my square piece of printer paper, it slowly dawned on me the mental benefits I was gaining from this class.
1. Mental Concentration
First was mental concentration. As I listened to the instructor, I had to pay close attention and focus on what I was doing. Making origamis are not to be done while multi-tasking. You have to focus on the direction of your fold, when to tuck or pull, when to crease or rip. You can’t be checking your social media or email, talking on the phone, or doing some other mind-numbing task. You need all hands-on deck. Literally and figuratively.
2. Persistence and Patience
Second was persistence and patience. Like two peas in a pod, these two traits are needed for successful origami creation. I quickly noticed the need to pace myself and breathe. I could feel some slight frustration creeping in as I was making my corner bookmark. I struggled with visualizing what the instructor was saying causing me to not understand her instructions. Then I fell behind and needed her to repeat the directions. fortunately, she was very encouraging, stopping to be sure everyone was understanding and not wanting anyone left behind. I was comforted by that gesture and it motivated me to keep going.
3. Problem Solving
Third was problem solving. Making origamis are similar to solving a jigsaw puzzle. You got to figure out where the pieces go. As you fold and tuck the paper; the pieces slowly slide together producing recognizable artwork.
4. Perfectionist by Nature
Forth was the wild card. I am a perfectionist by nature and this class exposed it. Yet it supported my creativity. It challenged me to aim for excellence not perfection. See, I wanted my design to be exact. I wanted it to be perfect but it wasn’t. The instructor told us to crease the paper and bend it back and forth to make it easy to rip off. This was excess paper we didn’t need. I followed her directions but when I ripped off the extra paper it was not smooth. The edge was jagged, not perfect.
I realized what was happening. This was my first attempt at making origamis. I needed to relax and just enjoy the process. I told myself this is an art class and remember to have fun.
Ready for a Brain Boost?
Need a brain boost? Looking for a mental challenge? Want to learn a new artistic craft? Consider creating origamis. It’s Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and why not explore this historical and cultural activity. You can learn more about accessible origamis by reading this blog post written by my instructor. Also , if you are a Facebook fan check out the group called Accessible Origami Project.