Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Akari Lantern

As I mentioned in the review of the Gakken Akari kit, as soon as I saw all of the origami projects in the mook, I decided that I'd go to the Origami Kaikan (Origami Center) about 1 mile from my office. Part of the idea was just to see if the people there had known of the kit in advance, and if not to tell them about it. Another part was to see if I could meet the chairman (who is generally in the third floor gift shop giving demonstrations to visitors) and ask him for suggestions for a project of my own.

While the chairman did act impressed with the mook, I found it hard to get him to give me ideas. But, as I was talking I noticed a box of key chains on one shelf, and one of them was a small wood and paper lantern shape. I was also trying to find good quality paper that wouldn't collapse under its own weight, and the chairman commented that most of the paper is lighter to be easier to fold, and therefore not all that structurally strong. The more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea of making a lantern. Finally, I noticed some paper that had rabbits on it (2011 is the Year of the Rabbit, so rabbit origami and rabbit-patterned paper are big now). I asked where the paper was, and was taken over to some other shelves where the Kaikan was selling its own washi (handmade rice paper) for 1600 yen for a square meter.

Back at home, I grabbed some construction paper that I had left over from a previous art project, and experimented with making a box 4"x4"x6". The result was strong enough to justify moving forward with the idea. By accident, I chose to use 1 cm-thick borders, which turned out to be a good choice, because the sticky-back tape I had was 1 cm wide. I tried looking for lantern frame patterns on the net, but nothing useful popped up right away, so I just tried some ideas that were more-or-less asymmetrical. After cutting out the frame pieces, I tried finding patterns on the rabbit washi paper that fit well inside the frames. Unfortunately, the washi seems to be designed more for wrapping paper, and most of the patterns are fairly spread out. But, I did get a couple pieces that worked out.

The final project took 2 hours to complete, and I think that it looks pretty good sitting on the Akari. I just wish that I hadn't been told at the end that these lanterns are used primarily for Obon (the 1-week period in August when the Japanese set out to visit with the spirits of their ancestors).

1 comment:

Simon said...

Really cool! I Want one!!!