Article Type Making Art Together Making Art Together Categories Collage Drawing Sculpture

Art Studio Intern Project: Origami Worlds

Recently one of the Art Studio Summer Interns, Young-Ji Cho, a rising junior at Amherst College, designed a special activity for our Museum guests. Below is her report on the day.

With so many creative projects by interns that came before me, I was both inspired and challenged to develop a project of my own that was new and exciting to the Studio while still being unique and personal to me. A lot of things went through my head when I was brainstorming ideas, but my mind kept coming back to the fond memories I had of folding origami with my mom when I was a little girl. It was a challenging activity- trying to make precise folds with my small and impatient fingers- but I remember it was extremely rewarding when I succeeded!

I wanted the project to be more than just following the same set of rules to make a cookie cutter replica of an origami piece. I wanted guests to have the ability to make these projects on their own because I knew the Studio was all about encouraging open-ended discovery. So I decided to expand the possibilities by turning the project into making your own Origami World.

To do this, guests received 2 pieces of white cardstock that they could use to make a diorama, which would hold their origami pieces and act as the backdrop of their “world”. Having this structure made the world more fun to create, provided a convenient place to hold origami pieces, and widened creative possibilities. Guests could make the backdrop for their origami into farms, underwater scenes, gardens…wherever their minds took them!

I provided blue and green pieces of paper to cover big spaces if they wanted a backdrop of grass or water.

On the tables: Each station had a tray of origami paper (assorted sizes, colors, and patterns), a baskets of glue sticks and tape, and baskets of black sharpies, white gel pen, and assorted colored markers. I didn’t want to overwhelm guests but still wanted to give them enough materials to use in imaginative and open-ended ways.

I set out origami instruction sheets scattered across the tables. Instructions ranged in subject and difficulty level so that there could be something that appealed to everyone. Again, I wanted to maintain the balance of not overwhelming guests but still giving them enough options to encourage inventiveness.

And guests sure got inventive! Immediately, people’s brains started churning, coming up with cool ways to make their worlds their own.

I was worried that children would get frustrated or abandon their projects if the instructions were too confusing for them to follow. Surprisingly, everyone who came by stayed a long time, patiently folding paper and building their worlds.

By having more than just origami paper out, we gave guests who perhaps were too young or did not want to make origami the option to cut out paper and draw on their cardstock with markers. I found that guests really enjoyed having these multiple options available and most often combined origami with the mixed media.

I also found it was worthwhile to go around helping those who needed a little more guidance through the instructions. Most of the time, all it took was explaining the instructions in another way or going through a step together.

This is a good activity to do together between parent and child, as it is very interactive, and seeing the child’s amazement when a simple piece of paper is transformed into something like a giraffe or a seagull is really great!

This project is easily adaptable to home, since the materials are most likely at home already or pretty easy to purchase. All you really need are some thin, square pieces of paper and instructions.

And luckily, instructions on how to make all sorts of origami are easily available online. The ones we used for this project all came from here.

Big thanks to Leah Henry, another intern in the Studio this summer, who helped out during the event!

All in all, I was very happy by the creative and artistic approach each guest had with this project and the results of each endeavor were definitely impressive to see!