Now I have plenty of room to attach 2 pairs of leaves, or twice as many leaves as I normally would.

Split Ends: More Leaves in Less Space

Jun 26, 2013Filed under UncategorizedTagged: , , , , , , , , ,

I wanted to build another sculpture with extremely small leaves.  I’ve encountered an issue when making such sculptures in the past.  It seems that as I get toward the ends of branches the high-density leaf structure I had planned fails, and I end up with more widely spaced leaves than I wanted.  I thought that perhaps I could split the end of each branch to overcome this issue.  What follows is an explanation of what I did.

Here's a closeup of one of my branch's tips.

Here’s a closeup of one of my branch’s tips.

I cut the tip at an angle so I can glue branchlets onto it.

I cut the tip at an angle so I can glue branchlets onto it.

Here's the branch tip after the branchlets have been attached.

Here’s the branch tip after the branchlets have been attached.

Now I have plenty of room to attach 2 pairs of leaves, or twice as many leaves as I normally would.

Now I have plenty of room to attach 2 pairs of leaves, or twice as many leaves as I normally would.

Here's a picture of the completed sculpture.

Here’s a picture of the completed sculpture.

 

 

 

You can see how I've blended the yellow highlight into the orange highlight.

Discrete Highlights on Trunk and Branch Networks

May 8, 2013Filed under UncategorizedTagged:

When we complete a branch network there are often highlights which seemed to appear spontaneously.  Sometimes these are caused by changes in color of the newsprint below the surface, but more often they are the result of the way paint adheres to exposed hot melt glue.  Acrylic paint doesn’t stick to hot melt glue very well.  It kind of smears across, rather than being absorbed by, the surface.

I’ve often admired these color changes.  To me they make the sculpture look more beautiful and complex.  I had some spare time this week and wondered if I might be able to create highlights deliberately.  I discovered I could, and what follows is an example of creating discrete highlights on trunk and branch networks.  I share this information freely with the hope that it will improve your work as it has mine.

-Benjamin John Coleman

 

I began with an assembly of makigami branches made from newsprint.

I began with an assembly of makigami branches made from newsprint.

 

I painted the sculpture with an initial primer coat of white paint to mask any images or colors that might show through the paint from the newsprint.

I painted the sculpture with an initial primer coat of white paint to mask any images or colors that might show through the paint from the newsprint.

 

I painted the tree with a mixture of dark brown paint.  In retrospect a lighter color might have worked better.

I painted the tree with a mixture of dark brown paint. In retrospect a lighter color might have worked better.

 

I painted orange-brown highlights onto any area of the trunk and branches that I thought might be "stressed" from growth.  In other words, I painted the outside arcs of all the branches and the trunk.

I painted orange-brown highlights onto any area of the trunk and branches that I thought might be “stressed” from growth. In other words, I painted the outside arcs of all the branches and the trunk.

 

This is a closeup of the orange highlight.  Notice that I blended it a bit, working it into the darker brown color.

This is a closeup of the orange highlight. Notice that I blended it a bit, working it into the darker brown color.

 

Next I added a yellow highlight to the orange-brown highlight.  It's just to add some complexity to the color.

Next I added a yellow highlight to the orange-brown highlight. It’s just to add some complexity to the color.

 

You can see how I've blended the yellow highlight into the orange highlight.

You can see how I’ve blended the yellow highlight into the orange highlight.

 

I painted the entire sculpture with a mixture of white, brown and black paint.

I painted the entire sculpture with a mixture of white, brown and black paint.

Notice how the highlights discreetly add to the beauty of the sculpture.

Notice how the highlights discreetly add to the beauty of the sculpture.

The completed sculpture.

The completed sculpture.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is makigami?

Mar 1, 2013Filed under UncategorizedTagged:

Makigami is a new material made from recycled newspaper.  Here’s more detailed information about it:

 

What is Makigami: The Earth-Friendly Alternative to Plastic by Benjamin John Coleman

Complex Paper Floral in Vase

Feb 27, 2013Filed under UncategorizedTagged:

This blog post describes how to create a complex origami bonsai sculpture in a vase.  This vase is made of glass and has a smooth surface.  With little or no friction, how can we create a sculpture that won’t require some heavy medium inside the vase, or fall over in the slightest breeze?  The answer involves a little bit of ingenuity and craftsmanship.

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I molded two vines to the vase. I didn’t need to cover the vase because any makigami rolling solution that got on it could be easily cleaned off the glass.

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I put a plastic bag around the vase to protect it before I attached leaves and flowers to the vine.

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I had trouble figuring out how to get the tall flowering stem to stand up in the vase. I didn’t want to add any medium to the vase. I thought that perhaps some long grass would keep the sculpture stable.

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I attached a makigami base to the bottom of the tall stem.

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You can see that the branch won’t stand up straight in the vase without its makigami base.

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With the makigami base the stem will stand up, but the slightest breeze knocked it over.

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I added three pieces of long grass hoping that they would stabilize the sculpture.

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I discovered that the long grass helped, but didn’t solve the problem. Now a stronger breeze caused the sculpture to fall over.

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This is a closeup of the grass and how I used it to stabilize the long stem.

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I decided to reconfigure the grass so it would act like a spring when inserted into the vase.

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It worked!

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The long grass compresses as the sculpture is inserted into the vase and acts like a clamp stabilizing the tall stem.

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Here’s the sculpture along with its ivy.

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Notice how beautiful and natural looking the ivy is. It looks like it grew around the vase.

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Another closeup of the ivy.

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The completed sculpture.

Author Ben Coleman at Etsy Labs in Brooklyn, NYC

Feb 23, 2013Filed under UncategorizedTagged:

As part of the book release of Origami 101, Ben Coleman was invited to Etsy Labs to do some folding in Brooklyn, New York.  Click the link to view:

http://www.etsy.com/blog/news/2011/make-origami-with-benjamin-coleman-at-etsy-labs/

Author Ben Coleman Appears on NPR’s Studio 360

Feb 23, 2013Filed under UncategorizedTagged:

Listen to the broadcast by clicking this link:

http://www.studio360.org/2009/sep/25/aha-moment-origami/

Large Variations in Leaf Size

Feb 18, 2013Filed under UncategorizedTagged:

Leaf sizeI was doing an Origami Bonsai demonstration some months ago and asked the audience why I vary the leaf size.  One respondant suggested that it makes my work look more natural.  While both my books discuss varying leaf size from the perspective of depth enhancement, this participant made a really good suggestion that i fnally a time to try the other day.

The plant pictured above is a hybrid combination of an ice plant, a cactus, and a christmas cactus.  A typical ice plant has vastly varrying leaf sizes, so I made made squares that greatly differed in size.  The resultant sculpture is quite interesting.  The large variations in leaf size add a lifelike component to the work.

Large variations in leaf size can be combined with depth enhancement too.  To combine these features, assemble your sculpture with the smaller leaves tending to be rear-most and larger leaves tending to be front-most.

Makigami Paper Planters

Feb 18, 2013Filed under UncategorizedTagged:

plantersYou can create marvelous dishes in which to “plant” your Origami Bonsai creations.  Roll some thick makigami stems and mold them around a large diameter tube.  Also roll some unmolded, straight makigami stems.  Use the straight stems as legs, and the curved ones for the surface of the planter.

Use hot melt glue to assemble the curved makigami stems onto the “legs.”  Then apply a coat of wood glue and paint.  You can also experiment with stems that are tapered on both ends for a different look (not shown).

Thorns!

Feb 18, 2013Filed under UncategorizedTagged:

thornsI recently made an Origami Bonsai chess set.  The kings and queens of the sets were very similar, and I wanted something to differentiate them.  I added thorns to the queens by using discarded trimmings of branchlets to their stems.

The picture above is of both queens in the chess set.  The thorns are painted yellow on each of the queens.

Sell on Etsy

Feb 18, 2013Filed under UncategorizedTagged:

You can sell your origami bonsai sculptures on Etsy.  When visitors click the “Buy a Sculpture” option at left they are taken to an Etsy search that looks for origami bonsai sculptures.  Just make sure you put “origami” and “bonsai” in your key words when you list an item on Etsy.

It costs only 20 cents to list an item on Etsy for four months.  The typical origami bonsai receives over 100 views over this period, so if you want to sell one of your creations, Etsy is kind of a “no-brainer.”  When you add an item to Etsy, make sure you include the words “origami” and “bonsai” in the keywords section.  This will allow Etsy to list your sculptures when perspective customers click “Buy a Sculpture” at left and when they click advertisements in Origami Bonsai Electronic Magazine..  If your item is made entirly from Makigami, include the keywords “makigami” and “accessory” to obtain the same benefits from magazine ads.

Click Here to Sell on Etsy