The Origami Lady teaches kids how to shape paper with their imaginations
Ginger Brakke Shaw, known in Utah as the “Origami Lady,” wants to extend the Christmas season in Summit County.
Shaw will teach attendees of all ages about the Japanese paper folding art and lead them in creating their own from 1-2 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 27, at the Summit County Library Kimball Junction Branch.
“We will make candy canes – which they can’t eat, because they are made of paper,” Shaw said, laughing. “We’ll also make angels and a Santa Claus.”
Depending on how much time is left, Shaw may teach the kids to make a star, a starbox or a present box as well.
“Generally, kids will walk away with three; possibly four things, and if the kids are young, I hope parents will stay and help them,” she said. “No one will have to bring anything. I supply all the materials.”
Shaw’s interest in papercraft started when her older brothers taught her how to make paper airplanes.
“When I was a junior in high school, my sister dated a boy from Japan who taught me how to fold a crane that flaps its wings,” she said. “My friends would ask me to make them these cranes. There wasn’t anything really special about me, but I could fold paper. So I started doing that and it became a fun way for me to stand out a bit in a crowd.”
Shaw also took her talents overseas to Europe on a year and a half-long mission.
“I would fold paper birds for children on the buses, and that would strike up conversations about myself and (it) broke down the barriers between us,” she said.
For the past 15 years, Shaw has created an origami tree titled “Holidays in Origami” at the Festival of Trees, the annual holiday event that benefits Primary Children’s Hosptial. She has also folded cranes and other objects for weddings and special occasions.
“I have also created my own items – witches boots, ghosts, reindeer with pipe-cleaner antlers, rocking horses and things like that,” she said. “Throughout my life, I have taken time to learn how to fold more than 200 objects, and began to share those with more people.”
Shaw enjoys the nearly meditative state she gets into with origami.
“When I make 1,000 cranes for weddings and other events, I forget what I’m doing while my fingers make a fold,” she said. “I can make a flapping bird in 28 seconds.”
Shaw also uses that craft in her day job.
“I’ve been a school teacher in Murray for 32 years, and I love children,” she said. “I teach them origami because it brings me such joy and pleasure that I want to share it with them. I don’t have any of my own, but I tell my students that they are my kids.”
The Origami Lady enjoys seeing her students catch on to the folding.
“There is something that I call the ‘a-ha’ wave, when the kids go ‘Ah! I did it!” she said. “I also love seeing the children light up when I make a bird that flaps its wings.”
Shaw started her business 25 years ago and takes her classes to many libraries around Northern Utah.
She also does after-school programs and works locally with Jeremy Ranch and Trailside elementary schools.
“Origami has brought so much joy to my life,” she said. “Over the years, I have learned to keep paper with me at all times, just in case I need to fold something for someone.”
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