I was reading Deborah Weber’s O post today when a word therein sparked a memory.
The word isn’t her topic–that’s oakus, an old name for something many of you possess–but origami, the art of paper folding.
In my third-grade class, we students made snowflakes. That isn’t exactly origami, because origami is sculpture, three-dimensional, and our snowflakes were flat. But it’s a distant cousin.
Our teacher, Mrs. Calk–a kind, funny, thoroughly delightful woman–demonstrated the process. Take a sheet of typing paper, fold it this way and that, cut with scissors this way and that–the cuts would make each of our flakes unique, like the real things–and then unfold it into a perfect six-pointed snowflake.
So we folded and folded and cut and cut. And sure enough, the many-layered triangles opened into perfect six-pointed snowflakes.
Except mine. It had eight points.
I was counting them for the third time when Mrs. Calk reached my aisle. She’d been walking along, supervising, congratulating every student on the beautiful creations.
I showed her my anomaly. That stopped her in her tracks. She showed me how to fold–in teacher training, I learned this is called individual instruction–and told me to try again. She walked on. I tried again.
More encouragement from Mrs. Calk.
Mrs. Calk finally told me she believed it was time to stop folding.
I still haven’t managed a six-pointed snowflake.
Which brings me to origami. I once watched a librarian fold and fold while she told a story. Just as she reached the end of the story, she unfolded the paper, and there in her hand sat a little bird.
The woman was magnificent–her dexterity, proficiency, artistry. It was one of the most breathtaking performances I’ve ever seen. I mean, she talked and folded at the same time, and everything came out right.
The only thing I can fold is an eight-pointed snowflake. And I don’t dare try to talk while I’m folding.
I shouldn’t have been surprised the woman could tell a story and make a paper crane at the same time. She was, after all, a librarian.
Images of paper cranes, public domain, via Wikipedia