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Thursday, June 22, 2017

I'm doing it Elle, I'm creating a community

I lost a friend. She was crazy-smart, very kind, thoughtful, and generous. She was a caring person who I had the good fortune to meet while I was living in CA (before moving to MI). Even after I'd moved we would often post on each other's walls and message privately on Facebook. We were going to go camping together, someday. She loved my tiny trailer and envisioned living a simple, downsized, even possibly off-the-grid kind of life someday. I came very close to being able to visit her one last time but was just a bit too late... I was 11 days away from driving through the city she lived in. She passed away unexpectedly last June.


One of the last conversations we had on Facebook was one where she had shared she had found a group of people who were a new community that welcomed her into their fold. When I told her my idea to start an origami folding club, she whole-heartedly encouraged me to do so. She believed being part of a community could be a good thing.

One of her favorite pictures she shared on Facebook, with Woz.

It took about a year but I did it. The folding club's first meetup was last Saturday. In my heart the club is for the people of West Michigan, but it will also always be a bit of her legacy because even though she's gone, her support and encouragement will always be a part of it

I miss our chats and I miss you Elle. You are gone but not forgotten.



To see the schedule and RSVP to be a part of the West Michigan Origami Folding Club you can visit its web-page or join the Facebook Group:

www.WestMichiganOrigami.org
www.Facebook.com/groups/westmichiganorigami

Our hosting venue is the:
Kent District Library
200 N Monroe St
Lowell, MI 49331

The dates of the club's next meetup is:
Saturday, July 15th 9:30-11:30 AM

Monday, April 10, 2017

Art.Downtown 2017, Grand Rapids, MI


Last Saturday I spent the day on Division Ave. S in downtown Grand Rapids for the annual Art.Downtown event. It's kind of like a mini ArtPrize except there is no voting/contest aspect and it only lasts for a single day from noon to 9:00 PM.


There were four artist's sharing their work at the venue where I was invited to participate. Our curator, Zahara Avalon, also set up an interactive aspect asking people to write down on a restaurant order pad "What does it mean to be American?" The guests were then invited to hang their responses on string strung throughout the venue. The responses ranged from sobering:

"Despite having already been enrolled at GVSU... I had to provide my birth certificate to take one class at LMU. Why couldn't they have accepted my transcript?"

To cynical:
"Being American means ignoring the needs of those less fortunate and being self centered. Then I Tweet it!"

To humorous:
"I eat burgers and hotdogs"


For me, Art.Downtown was quite different than ArtPrize mostly because instead of bringing mobiles of thousands of tiny cranes that represent Japanese traditions and customs I created three small framed pieces (11"x14" frames) that told a very personal story. Would people like them as much?

I honestly didn't know what to expect. I was in a pop-up space, a former (and future) restaurant that is currently unoccupied. That's it to the left in the picture above. Would there be 20 visitors? 200? 2000? I didn't count but can say I spoke to more than 20 and less than 2000 people and they were all great! I knew some, met many new art lovers, and had the most fun I've had, well, probably since ArtPrize last fall :)


The thing that made me happiest was that quite a few people who had seen my past ArtPrize entries commented they recognized me or my work and said that this exhibit was "so different," "more personal/powerful/heartfelt," and that they loved the framed format, that it "suited" the miniature scale of my work. I truly couldn't have hoped for a better response. That people connected with my work and appreciated that these pieces had required more thought and vulnerability made me glad I took the chance and strayed outside of my ArtPrize-mobiles-comfort zone.

If you wanted to come but couldn't make it, here is the exhibit and the words I printed onto small signs to set above each framed piece along with my artist's statement and a renzuru diagram so that people would understand that the strand of cranes in the "Interned" piece was folded from a single sheet of paper.






NEVER FORGET
(Artist's Statement)

This collection comes from a more personal place than the sets of 1000 miniature cranes I’ve made in the past. When people I know say “We should round them (people of MiddleEastern descent and/or Muslims) up and put them in a camp in the desert” or that my family was interned to “keep them safe,” I am reminded that I need to continue to speak out about the injustices imposed on American citizens when 75 years ago President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 leading to the incarceration of over 110,000 Japanese Americans.

My reply is always that they are perpetuating the same fear and/or hatred that led to my family being placed behind barbed wire, with armed guards who would have shot them if they tried to leave, and losing over 3 years of their freedom. It was as wrong then as it would be to repeat the same injustice today.

My dad (a Private First Class in the United States Army) was also held behind barbed wire after his company was sacrificed to protect two retreating companies during the Korean War. He was captured on January 1, 1951 and held until August 6, 1953 after the signing of the Armistice. When he returned he faced racism even as a decorated POW-MIA veteran because he looked like the enemy, even though he was neither North Korean or Chinese.

And yet my parents saw past what they had each endured and held no racism in their hearts. They passed their tolerance and shared belief in treating people as individuals (not labeled groups) on to me. As a result my life is wonderfully rich, filled with a wide range of friends more diverse than they could have ever expected or hoped for me to have.

Never forget. Speak out. Be kind. Have faith.
- Stacie Tamaki

ENEMY

American? This is how Japanese American citizens were commonly viewed by the government and public after Pearl Harbor. Instead of seeing individuals, they were reduced to (and judged by) the color of their skin.


INTERNED

Families were given less than a week to vacate their homes and report to a “relocation center” bringing only what they could carry in a single suitcase per person. This is my family in the camp at Heart Mountain, Wyoming where they were held for more than 3 years.




BLENDING IN

As a child I wanted to blend in. I often felt conspicuously Asian. Now? I look around and see people embracing diversity rather than tolerating it. Over time I’ve reached a point where I’m more interested in being authentic and sharing my heritage rather than ignoring or hiding it. There is beauty in every culture, my art is my way of expressing mine.




And just like ArtPrize, because I was making a few cranes to put on the display table thanks to the suggestion of a guest, several other guests asked for paper and made me things! I love that I always go home with more art than I arrived with when I participate in public events :D A huge THANK YOU to everyone who shared their talent with me!


To be honest I don't really know that much about the Avenue for the Arts, the host of Art.Downtown. I will have to learn more about them on their website.

Thank you to Avenue for the Arts, my curator Zahara Avalon, and all of the guests, volunteers, and the artists I shared space with Carlos Gomez, Abigail Yoo, and Erick Picardo who made Art.Downtown such a fun and special event!



This post was originally published on my work-only blog Tinygami.wordpress.com.
For lifestyle + origami updates this (I Found the Place) is the blog for you.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

This weekend: Art.Downtown 2017

Coming to Grand Rapids, MI this Saturday? If you are maybe I'll see you. I'm participating in the Art.Downtown one day event hosted by Avenue for the Arts and will be at my venue (122 Division St S) from noon until 5:00 PM though the exhibit runs until 9:00 PM

"AMERICAN" The exhibit asks: "What does it mean to be American? The space focuses on intersections of Asian and Hispanic/Latinx identities especially in a political climate of anti-culture/color/immigrant."


My contribution to the installation will be three framed pieces depicting my maternal family's experience during the Japanese American internment and how I see myself as an American. The timing was impeccable. It felt as if no sooner had I posted the image above on Instagram to commemorate the signing of Executive Order 9066 on February 19th, the next thing I knew curator Zahara Avalon was contacting me to see if I'd like to be a part of the installation she was producing.


So I'll be there. Not with thousands of cranes, just a handful that came from a different, deeper place in my heart

Facebook Event Page
Saturday April 8, 2017
12:00-9:00 PM (I will be attending from noon until 5:00 PM)
122 Division Ave S
Grand Rapids, MI 49503



This post was originally published on my work-only blog Tinygami.wordpress.com.
For lifestyle + origami updates this (I Found the Place) is the blog for you.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Tinygami is coming to Home 2 Home in Greenville, MI

I've often said my creative-process is that I see pictures in my head. For instance when I think of something I'd like to create I can see the finished whatever in my head and can, for reasons I can't explain, see how to construct it to reach the end result. The other day it happened with this display case...


I'd been doing a ton of research on Pinterest about how to create the booth for the Made in Michigan Pop-up Markets I signed up for in May and July. Knowing me I'd wait until mid-May to finally put everything together. The things I wanted most were:
  1. Portability: I need to be able to lift and move all of the display fixtures myself.
  2. Wind resistance: It can get VERY windy in MI. So I want to create a booth that has the option of placing glass doors or some type of see-through barrier around my items just in case I need to.
  3. The option to lock it if needed.
  4. Cute: It has to be cute! And fun, and beautiful, and elegant. That's all :)
And just like that I stumbled upon the perfect one at Kaleidoscope of Times (a local antique mall). It's a mere 9.5"(d)x 24"(w)x48"(h). It's an old rifle/gun display case that had already been converted into a more generic display case. As soon as I saw it I knew I could remove the top two shelves and replace them with glass shelves. I could see it in my head. And it came with two sliding glass doors! Hopefully it will turn out something close to the illustration above.

The drawer at the bottom will come in handy on windy days because I can put bricks in there to help weigh it down as well as come up with some type of additional support system so that it won't ever blow over.


But guess what? It turns out I'll be using it even before the May Pop-up Marketplace! I was perusing Facebook and saw this post by a brand new store opening in Downtown Greenville, MI next Wednesday. I dropped by the next day even though they aren't officially opened and guess who's renting a Tinygami sized bit of space at Home 2 Home? Yup, ME!

So this little display case along with the table I use each year at ArtPrize will be the official retail launch of my business in Greenville. I have to have it ready to set up there by Tuesday so I've been busy. Since purchasing the case two days ago I have:
  • Purchased metal tracks and shelf pegs so the shelving can be adjustable
  • Cut the metal tracks to length
  • Removed the wood shelving. I did repair the bottom shelf as the trim was falling off and it was quite uneven in places so I sanded and sanded until I'd leveled everything off.
  • Filled all of the nail holes and the routing along the inside where the rifle stock rest/divider used to be.
  • Ordered 5 glass shelves.
  • Looked for new drawer pulls but didn't find any that I liked that fit the existing holes.
  • Sanded everything with 60 grit sandpaper along with the tips of my fingers :(
  • Located a locksmith that sells a ratchet keyed lock that fits to the glass display case doors.
  • Sanded everything with 150 grit sandpaper wearing gloves so my fingers are better :) But then I accidentally dropped two big clamps on my head (don't ask) so was still a bit worse for the wear today.
  • Nailed the bottom wood shelf back to the bottom of the case to hide the indentations where the rifle's butt plates rested.
  • Applied the first coat of primer.
  • Whew!
Still left to do:
  • Apply the second coat of primer.
  • Buy blue paint.
  • Paint the interior of the case aqua blue.
  • Go pick up ratchet lock.
  • Pick up glass shelves.
  • Find prettier drawer pulls.
I will post a new picture when it's done and delivered on Tuesday and show you how it turned out. For now I'm leaving the exterior white just because I'm short on time but do plan to paint the exterior in the future... I just haven't decided exactly how I want it to look. I have a few pictures in my head I'm contemplating ;)

Opening: March 1, 2017

Home 2 Home
310 Lafayette St
Greenville, MI 48838
(616) 835-9595

Monday, February 20, 2017

New and improved siu mai technique

Keeping an open mind isn't always the easiest thing to do. We become comfortable when we are accustomed to doing something in a way that has always been successful.

But somewhere along the way I stumbled upon this cooking tutorial by Kenji Lopez-Alt author of The Food Lab and the Serious Eats food blog. The image of his dumplings was so beautiful it stuck in my head.


Left: How I've always made them - Right: How I made them last night

Even though I've made steamed Chinese dumplings Siu Mai (aka Shu Mai) for over two decades, maybe even three, by folding the skins upward and leaving the filling exposed I really wanted to try Kenji's way of spiraling the the dough together at the top of the dumpling just because it is so much prettier!

The image to the right is how they turned out last night! I will be making them this way from now on. Not only are they more elegant in design, they are also easier to move from the steamer to a plate because they hold together better.

There are many variations of fillings for siu mai and won ton wrappers available at most grocery stores work well if actual siu mai wrappers are not readily available or you don't want to make dough from scratch.

In the left photo above I'd added a tiny bit of shoyu and dab of wasabi to each dumpling. I didn't do that last night. Instead I served them with 4 different dipping sauces:

1. Coleman's Mustard: Just mix the dry powdered mustard with shoyu (aka soy sauce)
2. Hoisin Sauce: I like to thin it with just a bit of hot water to make it more fluid
3. Sweet Ginger Chili Sauce: I also thin this with just a bit of hot water to make it more fluid
4. A mixture of shoyu, sesame oil, and a little white vinegar

Fred liked 1 & 2 best while I like 3 & 4 so I guess I'll be stuck making 4 sauces whenever I serve them from now on :)

BTW leftovers are great because the dumpling are also good cold right out of the fridge or you can reheat them quickly in a microwave.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Today is the day E.O. 9066 was signed

One of the most disheartening things people who didn't mean to offend me have said (directly) to me has been post 9/11 when they express their belief that people of Middle Eastern descent, or those who are Muslim, should be "rounded up" and moved out to a deserted area or shipped back to where they came from.


My reply to them is always the same: "It is that mentality that led to my family being imprisoned for almost 4 years during WWII. They had done nothing wrong yet they were uprooted from the West Coast and moved to Heart Mountain, WY where they lived behind barbed wire in an uninsulated shack. It was as wrong, unjust, and unAmerican then as it would be to do it again now to a different group of people."

My Family

I have also had several people tell me it was for my family's own good, for their protection from racism, that they were interned, their freedom stripped away from them. My reply to them is always that it that were so it would have been a voluntary choice to be moved into the sanctuary of the internment camps if people felt unsafe.

So if you bring up this subject to me please don't be surprised when I defend any group from being racially or religiously profiled or stereotyped. Not enough people stood up for my family when they were taken away. I will not be one of the quiet ones if it happens again.



This post was originally published on my work-only blog Tinygami.wordpress.com.
For lifestyle + origami updates this (I Found the Place) is the blog for you.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

I'll be presenting origami at the Grand Rapids Asian Festival this summer

Imagine my surprise when I was contacted to see if I'd want to participate as an origami artist at the inaugural "Grand Rapid's Asian Festival" on June 10th, 2017. My first thought was: Wow, cool! My second thought: There are enough of us to hold a festival? LOL

The Experience Grand Rapids website lists Asians as 2% of the demographic in Grand Rapids with the most predominate ethnic groups being: "...Vietnam, Korea, China and India." Japanese are only listed near the bottom of the page as cuisine at local restaurants.


One of the most different things about moving from the West Coast to the Midwest is how infrequently I see other people of Asian descents. In Santa Clara County where I lived in California the demographics for Asians is currently 35.6% here in Montcalm County where I now live we are .5% of the population. Note that isn't 5.0% but 0.5%. In the city of Greenville, according to the Census.gov website, there are X (which I assume means 0... I just looked, it means "not applicable") percentage of Asians currently living here. So I count for nothing? LOL

At most I see another Asian person every other month (or so) usually at the grocery store. If I drive an hour into Grand Rapids I may see one Asian person while I'm there. But not every time. It's kind of like being a unicorn, but Asian. In the Midwest :)


I also find myself wanting to promote multi-culturalism. I've learned so much about how to be a Midwesterner! For starters I've learned how to make Ebelskiver and planted tulips because the Danish and Dutch cultures are well represented in this area. Fred suggested I also needed to learn how to make an entire meat and potatoes meal on a BBQ grill. So I did. I shovel snow like a boss, learned to make creamed corn with the bagfuls our neighbor gives us each year, learned to garden, bake pies, and climbed "The Dune."

So this is a chance for me to give back and share some of my culturural heritage with the people of West Michigan. I immediately confirmed "yes" I would like to participate. Partly because I know for a fact that many people here in Michigan who come to ArtPrize are avid paper folders themselves. And quite a few people have asked me to teach classes. So to host a complimentary workshop at an Asian Festival seems like a great idea!

Activities that day will include:
- Martial artists
- Lion Dancers
- Singers
- Cultural Dancers
- Karaoke Contest
- Band & DJ line up
- And more...

I hope you can attend. It should be both fun and from what I'm seeing on the Facebook Group's wall, quite delicious and entertaining!

CLICK HERE to follow the official event page on Facebook.

Click this link to follow Participant's Group Page which asks:

Participants:
This is where you come in. Help us make the Asian festival become Amazing! Suggest below on unique / great Asian performers/acts plus contact info if you have it.

Also looking for off stage performers. Asian street performers of arts, dance, cultural performance, calligraphy, sports exhibitions (like sepak takraw), etc.

Sponsors:
If you are interested in being a sponsor you can join the GRAF2017 Facebook group and ask to have a packet sent to you.



This post was originally published on my work-only blog Tinygami.wordpress.com.
For lifestyle + origami updates this (I Found the Place) is the blog for you.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The new me

The other day I was talking to my friend Dana on the phone. He said something like "Remember when you used..." about how I used to go out and do more things when I lived in California and would then blog about them. I'd been feeling the same way. It made me realize there was something else I hadn't done for a long time, which was to update the fun and flirty cartoon self portraits I used to use across my websites and social media platforms for branding and marketing purposes.

So I made a new me...


She's not wearing lipstick and she doesn't color the greys out of her hair. Except for tweezing her eyebrows, and occasionally getting a hair cut/trim that's her, I mean me, the current real me.


I started making cartoon-me back in 2009 because I absolutely hate to have my picture taken. The only thing that ever really changed was the length of my hair so I'd update the cartoon internet-wide and on my business cards to reflect what I currently looked like at any given time. LOL


I also update the masthead on this blog. The sandhill cranes are from this picture I took a couple of years ago when I was driving down the highway and saw many cranes feeding out in a field. I turned off and was lucky enough to get this shot.


I used to have a lot of fun creating the self-portrait style cartoons not just for myself but lots of other people too! Maybe I'll take it up again someday or occasionally add the option for one in my Etsy shop. If you'd be interested in commissioning one just let me know. You can probably twist my arm a teensy bit to take a break from my folding to design a cartoon just for you :D


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