Tiny Techniques, Enormous TalentJul 13, 2020 08:00AM ● By Kennedy Mapes
Stacie Tamaki has made quite an impression with her origami, not only because of her incredible talent, but also because of the meaning behind her art. Tamaki began practicing origami as a child. She first learned the basics of the art from a beginner’s book, however, she learned how to do what she is now known for, the paper crane, from her grandmother when she was seven years old, a few years before her grandmother’s passing.
Tamaki learned this technique at a young age, but it wasn’t until much later, in 1995, that she decided to create a hobby out of it.
“This thought occurred to me that I wanted to try to fold a thousand cranes, but make them small enough that when hung in the form of a mobile I could put them inside of a glass display case to keep them protected from dust and damage,” Tamaki said.
She described a time when she had seen a mobile of a thousand cranes before, and she thought it was beautiful, but it was also eight feet high. She wanted to create something that was just as beautiful but that allowed for a more practical display.
Tamaki began to tackle the challenge by continuously cutting her origami paper down until she discovered she was able to fold a three quarter inch square of paper into a three-eighth inch high crane, completely by hand.
The first miniature mobile she made consisted of a combination of cranes, both three-quarter inch and three-eight inch in size. Once she completed this first mobile, she decided to turn it into a full-fledged hobby. She continued for years, and either kept the mobiles for herself or gifted them to friends and family.
“When I heard about ArtPrize in 2013, I thought, ‘The public gets to choose the winner?’ This is exactly what I have been waiting for,” Tamaki said.
After an incident at an art gallery in the West Coast in 2002, in which the owner dismissed her art as “just crafting” and undermined her confidence, Tamaki realized that the only way she would ever want to exhibit her work would be through a public display where everyday people, in their everyday lives, could stumble upon it, be surprised by it, and truly appreciate it. ArtPrize gave her that opportunity.
Tamaki participated in ArtPrize five years in a row and gained a large following of people who loved her work and wanted to purchase it. After listening to her viewers opinions and suggestions, she realized she really could turn this hobby that she loved so much into a career.
When asked what origami means to her, Tamaki replied, “It means many things to me. I have an emotional connection to it because it is one of the fondest memories I have of my grandma, so I feel I am carrying on her legacy. Then there is the collective view that most people recognize the crane as a symbol of peace and hope.”
She explained that quickly after she opened an Etsy shop, she noticed her customers were buying her pieces for people who were struggling emotionally. “People were buying gifts from me to give to someone who was bereaved because they felt that this tiny crane, or dragonfly, or whatever it was, would give a bit of happiness to someone who was sad.”
She also expressed that the intricate art of origami allows her to introduce to her audience the concept that we are all capable of more than we think.
For more information on Stacie Tamaki and her beautiful miniature origami, please visit tinygami.com.