Sunday, September 28, 2014

First four days review of ArtPrize 2014

The first two days of ArtPrize I came to answer questions about my work. The past two days? I've been folding cranes onsite giving live demonstrations then giving them away. Artist's are allowed to sell their work as long as the ArtPrize logo is not printed on it. I contacted the ArtPrize support desk to ask if I'd be breaking any rules by giving away the cranes I'd just made. I was given a green light that that would be ok so now I sit and fold cranes all day long. But here's the really cool part. The best part. . .

Gifts I've received by people attending ArtPrize!

Several visitors have walked up and asked for pieces of my origami paper. . . Then they make me origami! In return I give them one of my cranes. I suspect this may be a whole new form of interactivity that doesn't typically occur at the competition with the visitors making art and giving it to an artist :) I'm seriously just tickled to bits when someone takes the time to make me a something!

What has become an incredibly popular part of my 4000 Tiny Origami Cranes exhibit is the "Petting Zoo." Do you see it? It's to the right of my entry.

Here's a closer look and why people are loving it.

Quite a few visitors have now told me it's the only entry they've come across that encourages them to touch part of a display.

The funniest part is that kids are not the ones touching the mobiles. It's been adults. They walk up, reach out, touch the mobiles then see the "Please do not touch" signs and are often mortified that they just touched one in front of me. One woman even said "I'm a grown up! I know better! I just couldn't help myself!" LOL. It actually makes me happy that people want to connect with the cranes in a tactile way, I just worry about damage to the very fine fishing line that the mobiles are suspended from if someone were to hold onto a strand and pull too hard.

So Day 1 I went and registered to receive my artist's badge. I'll admit I didn't wear it that day. It seemed so large and conspicuous. My friend Dana told me on the phone "There's a fine line between effective marketing and looking like a dork." But he encouraged me to wear the badge and do whatever I need to do to help people discover my work so now I wear it every day.

I could never bring myself to ask people to vote for me. But if they tell me they just did. or are going to, or take postcards to give to other people they know I sincerely thank them then tell them that I really appreciate it as I only know nine people in the state of Michigan and only half of them come to ArtPrize so I need all of the votes and exposure I can get. LOL

Venues in the three mile ArtPrize district will have these sandwich boards in front of them so it's fairly easy to spot venues even if you're not using an official map. If you have kids I encourage you to bring them here if not this year then next year. This event reminds me so much of Maker Faire where exposing kids to so much creativity can only stimulate their imaginations.

On Day 1 I made a beeline to the Fountain Street Church to see the entry "Just Listening." One of the three artists who collaborated on this sculpture is someone I met while posting my updates on Instagram (she's truthinart) the past few weeks. A few days later Ruth Tyszka stopped by the Grand Central Market and we were able to meet in person for the first time.

From her artist's statement:

"Just Listening is a visual commentary on American ideals regarding the National Security Agency’s (NSA) electronic data surveillance and collection programs."

"Three accomplished artists with backgrounds in the law, healthcare and the arts, come together to deploy art and technology in an intriguing sculptural statement about the systematic use of technology to collect information on Americans and worldwide."

I encourage you to go see it. The detail work is incredible!

I also took just a moment to visit the Sitelab. I'd also been following the progress of their installations on Instagram. They feature many different artists so it's somewhere you can see a lot of art in one location.

And these huge race cars parked at an intersection really conveyed the spirit of public art. I was parked right beside them at a red light and thought it was cool that some of the art you don't even have to walk to to see.

I've met several other artists over the past four days. One of the first was Randy Jackson. His photograph "American Woman / Stars and Stripes" is hanging at the shop right next door to the Grand Central Market. I appreciated he took the time to introduce himself and ran next door for a quick peek at his entry.

And a favorite person I've met so far is go-getter Richard (Dick's) Bourgault. A retired psychologist who picked up a paint brush for the first time last December, this is Dick's first time participating as an artist in ArtPrize. In less than a year of painting! Awesome! The paintings are his entry "Lady in Red." He's also a musician and photographer, a true renaissance man.

Where to eat at ArtPrize? The Grand Central Market & Deli

Being hosted at the Grand Central Market has made meal breaks a breeze. Wonderful because I barely have time to sneak in eating let alone going to get food. They make a multitude of sandwiches, ready-to-heat deli food, and incredible pasta salads (I love the veggie 4-P's) inside.

And during lunch have street eats cooked right out on the sidewalk. You order outside, get a receipt, take it inside to pay for it and get it stamped, then come back out and pick up your food once it's ready.

Though I almost never eat pork anymore I asked for a recommendation and the Pulled Pork with BBQ sauce, bacon, smoked mozzarella cheese, and caramelized onions was the specialty sandwich of the day. So I tried it. And loved it.

So far I've been staying most of the day. I can say that morning's are the hardest time for people to notice my cranes in the window. The reflection on the glass makes them hard to see. By afternoon and into evening they pop and many people say they were just walking by and saw them and had to come in.

BTW, if sixth graders could vote I think I could have captured their swing vote. A woman came in yesterday and told me the sixth graders at the school she works at came on opening day and could not stop talking about the Tiny Cranes. Because of their rave reviews she had to come down and see them! :)

To see the Tiny Cranes in person visit:

Grand Central Market & Deli
57 Monroe Center Street NW
Grand Rapids, MI

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

ArtPrize: Installation of Tiny Cranes completed

They're in! Earlier this afternoon Fred and I loaded up both cars and headed to the Grand Central Market and Deli to install my Tiny Cranes entry!

In Fred's car were two things he'd made for my installation:

1. The structure from which I hung the cranes. It's a Japanese torii, the gateway you'd find at the entrance to or inside of a Shinto Shrine. It symbolizes that you are entering a sacred space. I love it! I'd planned to simply buy shelf brackets, get a 12" x 4' board and drive nails into the interior facing edge to hang the cranes. Instead I have an elegant and meaningful display structure. I love it! I can't imagine a more perfect way to have presented them.

2. He also made me a table to put slightly in front of my installation to create a protected area beneath the cranes so nobody would accidentally get tangled up in them.

In my car were the cranes themselves. In my head I'd figured out a way to transport them that would protect the cranes, structures they hang from, and the fishing line attached to the structures. It required rolling the fishing line onto a cylinder and fixing everything in place for transport. Four boxes, cylinders, paperclips, and some wire and I had it all figured out!

The cranes made the 45 minute drive to Grand Rapids no problem!

Next Fred mounted the torii to the window frame. Then I hung the cranes. The entire process took about an hour and a half. Unfortunately I did get a parking ticket. Happily it was far less expensive than parking tickets in San Francisco. The last time I got one they were $50. Now? My friend posted on Facebook she just got one for $83! The ticket I got tonight was a mere $20. So, it could have been worse.

A parting shot as we left the venue. Tomorrow ArtPrize officially opens at noon EST. I'm planning to be there though I'm not sure if I'll be hanging out near my cranes or wandering the city looking at art. Maybe I'll do both :)

Tonight was all about celebrating. To enter the competition, secure a host, make my entry, and complete the installation? That called for some Ben and Jerry's Chocolate Therapy ice cream. Hoping I have sweet dreams tonight so I get up bright and early to attend ArtPrize for the first time both as an artist and an art lover!

To see the Tiny Cranes in person just visit the Grand Central Market and Deli at:

57 Monroe Center St NW
Grand Rapids MI 49503

It's located here:

And looks like this:

Sunday, September 21, 2014

My ArtPrize entry is done!

I have, in the past, had a problem with people assuming things I made by hand were purchased ready-made. In an effort to not let confusion reign with my ArtPrize entry I made a build journal that photo-documents the process of creating the structures the four sets of miniature 1000 origami cranes are hanging from. I'm having them printed as an 8x10 photo build journal and hope to leave it at the Grand Central Market (where my cranes will be on display throughout ArtPrize) in case anyone is interested in how the pieces were constructed.

Here's an online version for those of you who aren't going to be able to make it to Michigan to see the Tiny Cranes in person.

Each set is approximately 8" wide and 30" long. The window they will be displayed in is 48" wide necessitating the small diameter of each structure the cranes are hung from.

It all began by cutting apart larger pieces of paper into smaller pieces to make the miniature size I specialize in.


Spring began as a bag of vine that I ordered online. After hand weaving it into a wreath form I folded two sizes of origami blossoms to create the wisteria cones and four sizes of paper leaves. In total there are five wisteria cones that grace the wreath to evoke spring that I added to the structure after hanging the origami cranes.


Summer began with a search for bamboo plant stakes at the end of summer. It took a few tries but I finally located some at the Greenville True Value hardware store. I measured them, cut them down to size with my teeny tiny hacksaw, then fastened them together first with fishing line, then wire, then covered with raffia to create the arbor.

I added vine and small flower blossoms I'd folded from paper shaded in pink, yellow, and orange. After dividing out the 1000 origami cranes and hanging them I realized that while delicate and pretty the piece lacked the lush abundance of summer. So, I folded more flowers.

The second set of flowers I wanted to emulate the clusters of flowers found in the fabric used in kimono prints. Two styles combined with the original blossoms and I was more than pleased with the end result.


Autumn looks simple enough but the structure is comprised of 10 separate pieces of branch that I suspect is actually roots, not branches. Either way the wood had been sand blasted of its bark lightening it to a color as light as pine. Wanting to create a feeling of autumn I opted to stain the wood a darker brown before assembling the structure.

The tiny maple leaves were cut by hand using small craft scissors from fancy, washi, origami paper then meticulously glued to the branches one by one by applying a dab of glue with a straight pin to the branch then attaching the leaf to the glue before it dried.


I knew I wanted a different type of vine for the winter cranes and found it in California before I moved to Michigan while shopping at the Soquel farmers' market. Along with organic kiwi fruit, there were bundles of fresh kiwi vine for sale. I purchased a bundle, took them back to the trailer, soaked them in a bucket and began trying out different woven designs. The finished piece used 3 or 4 sections of branches connected together with fishing line to hide the start and end points.

Next I made Swarovski crystal branches using fine gauge wire and several shades of blue Swarovski crystal beads. After attaching them to the structure it was time to hang my final set of cranes.

In total I have no idea how many hours it took to make the four sets of cranes. My best answer is "a lot." I am thrilled they're done and am looking forward to installing them in the next two days in time for the opening day of ArtPrize.

I have to say it kind of boggles my mind that they're done. Despite the rough start to the year, spending the summer living in Greenville has done a lot to turn things around for me. Being here in the beautiful countryside I've found peace.

I commented a while ago on Twitter that when I was young angst fueled my creativity. Now that I'm older I've found tranquility is essential for me to tap into my creative side. I'll close this post by saying that I'm happy that I found the place where that can happen :)

If you want to see more images CLICK HERE to visit my ArtPrize profile

Saturday, September 20, 2014

My ArtPrize postcards are on their way

I thought it might be helpful to create a take-away card that visitors to the Grand Central Market & Deli can take with them in case they want to tell anyone they know to come see the tiny cranes. This is what I came up. They're 5x7 postcards that do include my email and phone number, I've just removed them here so the spam-bots don't harvest them and add me to even more spam lists than I'm already on.



If you visit ArtPrize and want to take one of each by all means feel free. I can always order more if needed.

In the future I'd like to create a product line using images like these on greeting cards, prints, and t-shirts. And for years I've dreamt of producing an origami book that features the four seasons DIY tutorials so that others can make them too.

One of the things I love about origami is that it's inclusive of anyone who can use their hands. Geography, age, gender, ethnicity, none of that matters. Yes, it's definitely nice to have access to beautiful origami paper but the truth is you can make a crane from any piece of paper from newspapers, to copy paper, to the inner silver metallic paper that chewing gum comes wrapped in. As an art form it has far fewer boundaries than most mediums.

Of course some are what I would call masters. I've met several on Instagram. Once I'm through my project and ArtPrize I will have to do a post and feature several of them here on the blog for you to enjoy. Their work is amazing!

And if you'll be in Grand Rapids Sept 24th - Oct 12th you can come see my entry in person at:

Grand Central Market & Deli - website
57 Monroe Center St. NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

ArtPrize Update & Michigan's Sandhill Cranes

Remember when I flew out to Grand Rapids in March/April of this year to visit the ArtPrize district for the first time? And I saw Sandhill Cranes both in the country and flying over the highway while driving to the city? I also tweet a bit on twitter that I hear them calling from the marsh in the mornings and they do fly-bys over the house but until now I'd never gotten a picture of them.

I think this was a family. The juvenile is the one without the red head.

But just the other day I was driving in the countryside while on an errand and guess what I saw in a field? Sandhill Cranes! I was so excited. I didn't pull over on the highway (because that wouldn't have been safe) so I made the first turn I could and guess what? There were three at the far end of the field. I wish I'd had my 300mm zoom lens with me but this was taken with my 140mm. Still, I'm thrilled to have both seen them up close and to have finally gotten a picture of them!

It just feels so right that there are cranes here as I hang my 4000 miniature origami cranes for my ArtPrize entry.

I'm still documenting the process on Instagram . . .

So if you're curious you can follow my progress there.

Spring is done. The finished piece is approximately 8" wide by 30" high. The strands of cranes themselves are 24" long.

Now I'm working on summer. . . It's a lot more work than you might imagine. In brief steps here's the process:
  1. Find the right origami papers to use
  2. Cut the paper into 1000 1.5" squares with a metal edge ruler and X-acto knife
  3. Fold the cranes
  4. Divide the cranes into colors and patterns. This is so that they are evenly distributed within each strand. 
  5. Divide the cranes into as many small piles as there will be strands
  6. Begin hanging the cranes. This is perhaps the most thought provoking part of the process. I make sure that no two patterns or solid colors end up side by side. I also make sure the cranes themselves are facing different directions so that two consecutive cranes aren't perfectly aligned.

And in case you'll be in Grand Rapids September 24th through October 12th this is where you can see my tiny cranes on display in the window on the far right. They'll be at the:

Grand Central Market Deli - website
57 Monroe Center NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49503