The art of origami |

The art of origami

Laura A. Ball
AE Origami 1 KL 7-11-06

The wheels spin methodically in Chris Amorosos head as his large hands make precise, delicate folds in the eggshell-colored paper inked with Japanese characters. His concentration never wavers as the lifeless paper blossoms into a beautiful three-dimensional bird. Theyre very hard to make, he said.

Hes right. The crane doesnt look exactly like the photograph in the book, but the outcome remains the same. More than aesthetic achievement, the act of paper folding, or origami, has become an outlet of practical meditation for Amoroso.I like the fact that I have an objective, and the repetitive quality clears my mind, he said. It also forces me to take time out of my day, to get away from my everyday life and thinking about my jobs and my worries, and more about other people. I usually have someone in mind when Im making origami.Tucked into every crease is a thought about whoever will receive the tiny paper treasure. The first folds he ever made were with thoughts about his sister, Yarra.An art therapist, Yarra dedicated her life to helping others work through various behavorial and physical needs through painting before being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at age 28.

Bed-ridden at 42, Yarra still paints with the help of others. She communicates which color she wants by blinking her eyes, someone puts the paint on the brush for her, and she paints the strokes herself. Even though it takes her days to complete a painting and she may only have energy to paint a few minutes each day, she refuses to give up her passion.I was always inspired by her keeping herself alive through art, Amoroso said, who believes finding means to creativity is vital to life, and often overlooked. His means is origami.To date, his favorite origami piece has arrived in the form of a gold pirate ship, which took him nearly four hours to bring to life, and however impermanent, he finds it beautiful and useful. As a houseguest, he leaves a paper trail thanking gracious hosts with his careful masterpieces. Im never at a loss to have something to give somebody, he said.

Although the word origami itself is of Japanese origin(ori meaning paper and gami meaning to fold), the expression found its roots in China in the first century, at a time when paper was expensive and hard to find. As the skill of making paper moved across the Eastern world, so did origami. It became popularized in Japan, where it melded into both culture and religion, and remains to this day.

Until the 17th century, when the first origami manuals were published, the designs and techniques were passed down orally from mothers to their daughters. While the spoken method of teaching was largely due to illiteracy, it also protected the treasured methods to ensure their creations would not be stolen. Not only was the art valuable, it brought families together. Self-taught origami enthusiast Amoroso, who winces at titles like master, says a plethora of information exists online and in books, but its the social aspect of learning he enjoys most.

You get to learn new things and share it with people, he said.Amoroso will host a workshop Sunday on behalf of the Vail Symposium, whose mission is the pursuit of learning and exploring the world around us, said director Fraidy Aber, who also happens to be Amorosos girlfriend.In fact, the relationship blossomed through nights of staying up late, folding paper.Its the cleanest love story youve ever heard, Aber said.Staff Writer Laura A. Ball can be reached at 748-2939 or

Vail, Colorado

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