Posts Tagged ‘workshop’


I love walking on the carriage trail at this time of year because of what’s unfolding…literally. Is there anything more intricate and beautiful than the process of a bud opening into a leaf?

Nature’s origami, the most elegant geometry, has inspired origami designers around the world. One of them, Tomoko Fuse, has created many beautiful designs for containers. She’s famous for her boxes and other modular designs, but I’m also very fond of this leaflike chopstick holder she invented. It’s one of many fun—and surprisingly easy—projects I hope to introduce to willing folders in my Origami Containers class at Cedar Lakes Crafts Center this August.

Check out the Road Scholar website for more information, and join me at Cedar Lakes Crafts Center near Ripley, WV this summer!


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These are just two of several origami envelope designs you’ll learn in “Origami Containers,” the workshop I’m leading at Cedar Lakes Crafts Center this summer. Join me for a week of gentle folding in good company. Then, next winter, you can send your friends holiday greetings in these exquisite handmade envelopes.

The class is scheduled for August 17-22, 2014, and I’d love to fill it up in advance! This is a Road Scholar (formerly Elderhostel) class. With prices starting at $487, it’s a remarkably good value for a week that includes tuition, a comfortable lodge room, and plenty of good food. All this in a picturesque place chock-full of West Virginia hospitality. Get all the details at the Road Scholar website.


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Instead, make it into a handsome, sturdy origami box! This one was made from eight of last year’s calendar pictures. For me, this is the most satisfying way of recycling: making something beautiful-but-outdated into something beautiful and new.

If you’d like to learn how to make this box, along with many other fascinating origami containers, start planning now to take my weeklong class, “Origami Containers,” at Cedar Lakes Crafts Center in Ripley West Virginia. The class is scheduled for August 17-22, 2014, and I’d love to fill it up in advance! This is a Road Scholar (formerly Elderhostel) class. With prices starting at $487, it’s a remarkably good value for a week that includes tuition, a comfortable lodge room, and plenty of good food. All this in a picturesque place chock-full of West Virginia hospitality. Get all the details at the Road Scholar website.


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No pictures today, but I’m posting a poem I wrote—yes, sometimes I write along with my students—during a weekend writing workshop at Tygart Lake State Park, November 8-10. We were a group of nine writers, and we had a great time. Not to mention good food and a nice hike in the woods. I hope some new folks will join me next spring or fall at Tygart Lake State Park.

The prompt that elicited this poem was one I have often used with very young writers: “Write a poem to anyone or anything: your dirty sneakers, your alarm clock, your great-great-grandfather, your dog, your big toe. Address the subject of the poem as if it were here with you and could hear you.” We often talk about the reasons for writing such a poem: you might want to say something to someone who’s gone, express a long overdue thank-you, or complain about someone or something anonymously. Writing a poem of direct address is the equivalent of writing a letter that goes unsent…unless, of course, you write it to a real person and send it to them. In the case of this poem, I decided to give a copy to my doctor, who seemed to find it amusing.

To My Intestines

Looped and wound about within me,
what a patient friend you’ve been.
Since those first few months of mother’s milk
you have accepted what I sent you,
masticated but hardly masked:
donuts and coffee, Junior Whoppers,
foods of every color and culture
from fiery Asian curries to noodle kugel.
Once, for fourteen diet-driven days,
nothing but GrapeNuts and fat-free yogurt.
Once, a quart jar of dill pickles.

I think of you hardly ever,
disregard the way you go about your business
mostly (not always) in silence, in darkness.
No breaks, no vacations, and few
complaints about being the one
who always has to do the dirty work,
whose groans of labor are the butt of jokes.

I saw a picture of you once, after
the indignity of a colonoscopy.
I’ll tell you, and it’s true:
I thought you were beautiful,
a sinewy channel of pink, not unlike
the coral coilings of a slot canyon
I traveled though in Arizona.
O secret and circuitous tunnel,
O pipeline winding through my flesh and bone,
O necessary viscera,
I honor you.

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This is another fabric box, a Tomoko Fuse design (she’s the best!), made from two cotton “fat quarters,” as those 18 x 21-inch pieces are called at the fabric store. I enjoyed choosing the fabrics because there were so many with small patterns, perfect for little origami projects. This box measures about three-and-a-half inches square and is very sturdy. A great container for earrings, soap, keepsakes, or small gifts.

Learn this design and several other boxes, along with various envelopes and other containers, at my Origami Container Workshop at Cedar Lakes Crafts Center in Ripley, WV. The class runs from April 22-27.

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Here’s another fabric box we might try during the Origami Container Workshop at Cedar Lakes Crafts Center. This one is a Masu box, an ancient and traditional Japanese design that is truly elegant in its simplicity and utility. I love the way it looks in this luxurious fabric, although the thickness of the brocade presented a bit of a challenge.

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Two views of an origami box in fabric

At Christmastime, my friends Faith and Vicki gave me some wonderful squares of fabric from vintage feed sacks. (They came from Diane Gilliam’s Etsy Shop, by the way.) Today I bonded eight pieces to paper and folded my favorite origami box with them. The folding was a little bit more demanding than paper, and the fitting-together slightly more demanding as well, but the finished box is a treat—and remarkably sturdy! If my students seem up to it, I will add a project like this to my upcoming Origami Container Workshop at Cedar Lakes Crafts Center April 22-27.

Learn more about the class and register by visiting the Road Scholar website.

In the next few days, I’ll be adding more pictures of origami containers we’ll be constructing during the workshop. Cedar Lakes is beautiful, peaceful campus for craft workshops, and Road Scholar workshops tend to be good value for a reasonable price. Tell your friends who might be interested!

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Without a doubt, the picture above has generated more interest than any other thing I ever posted. In fact, I have found this very photo on other people’s blogs, even on origami instruction pages, never attributed to me. I guess I am flattered. And I suppose this sort of cyber-migration is better than having some embarrassing Facebook photo show up in an employer’s personnel file. Actually, I don’t think there are any embarrassing photographs of me, unless one considers that I should be embarrassed by some of my haircuts.

But…on to the real point of this post: I will be teaching my first actual weeklong workshop on ORIGAMI CONTAINERS at Cedar Lakes Craft Center (in Ripley, West Virginia) from April 10-15, 2011. We’ll begin with simple envelopes and progress to the modular square boxes shown above. (I will not be teaching the hexagonal box. It still gives me fits to fold it sometimes, and I’m not quite ready to try to teach it.)

The class is sponsored by Road Scholars (formerly known as Elderhostel) and is open to adults (any age, not just over 50!). If you are interested and want to know more, please visit the Road Scholars website, where you can read about the class and Cedar Lakes Craft Center, find out prices, and register.

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This is a typical morning sky at Ghost Ranch in New Mexico. That flat-topped mountain on the left is Pedernal, one of Georgia O’Keeffe’s favorite painting subjects. Needless to say, this landscape is still among the most inspiring, and not only for painters.

Each October, for the past few years, I have had the privilege and joy to lead a workshop at Ghost Ranch. It’s happening again this year, from October 10-16. “Read-Aloud Writing: Shapely Short Essays” is the title of the workshop, and that’s what we’ll be writing: short, shapely pieces that are meant to be read aloud. The class meets every morning for a week, and afternoons are free for writing, hiking, thinking, visiting with new friends.

And, each October, I am amazed by the quality of writing that emerges. There’s something magical about the camaraderie at Ghost Ranch, the awesome landscape, the collaborative process, and perhaps the students’ willingness to revise, revise, and revise some more.

Last fall, in fact, I thought that some of the essays my class wrote were so good that, when someone suggested publishing a chapbook, I agreed to edit it. The resulting booklet, published by Village Books Press (Cheyenne, OK), turned out beautifully, as you can see:

The fine cover photography (and Photoshopping) are the work of one of the class members, William Graustein, who also took this picture of our group:

Can you tell that we bonded? I can’t speak for the students, but I would have to say that this one of my all-time-favorite experiences as a workshop leader. I won’t promise a chapbook every year (in fact, it WAS a lot of work), but I do promise you’ll meet some fine people and do some writing of which you can be proud.

There’s something about Ghost Ranch. If you have a yearning to write short essays, to spend a week with a congenial group of fellow writers, and to experience the place that has inspired Georgia O’Keeffe and so many other people, I hope you’ll check out the Ghost Ranch website and search for “Read-Aloud Writing.”

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