I had another resurgence of origami earring making not long ago – mainly because I finally found a great way to display them.
I started making earrings long ago, probably when I was about 14. I used to go on massive bead-buying binges, visiting a shop without a plan and walking out with hundreds of dollars worth of feature beads – mostly glass, wooden or plastic. I always stocked up on lots of essentials too – earring hooks, different lengths of wire with loops in the end, lengths of chain, etc. etc. etc. This was about the time that the shop Bizzaarr Beads started taking over shopping centres. But I totally started making jewellery before everyone else. Promise. So there.
Anyway, after a few years of wasting all my pocket money on making hundreds of earrings for my own collection (and also selling some at shops and markets, and giving them to all my friends and family as presents) I had a realisation. This had to stop. Also, I’ve just remembered that this was while I was in high school, where we weren’t allowed to wear anything but studs or sleepers so I must have only worn my handmade jewellery on the weekends – that’s only two days out of seven. What a depressing thought to look back on! (I wear a different pair of earrings everyday now.)
I had always been keen on making origami paper cranes, since our Japanese family friends came to visit and taught us to make them. We made a thousand paper cranes as part of our primary school’s Japanese program once and I spent a lot of my time teaching other kids how to make them.
So one day when I was complaining about the price of beads, someone suggested to me that I try making tiny paper cranes and using them instead. The idea worked pretty well, and people seemed to like it. During later high school and uni my crafting dropped off a bit but when I decided to get back into it, I went straight back to these cranes. They always seem to be a winner, although I have dabbled in making other styles too (check out these little diamonds I made out of an upcycled children’s book recently).
The difference with using paper cranes instead of fancy bought beads is that the pieces are truly handcrafted. I spend far more time on making these kind of earrings, which means I make less of them and each pair is really special. It also means I spend less money on the initial outlay – the average paper crane the right size for an earring is made from one sixteenth of a piece of normal size square Japanese origami paper. That’s a lot of cranes with a little paper!
People are amazed that I can make them so small but it’s just something I’ve been doing forever. I used to keep lolly wrappers in my pockets for those moments when I was bored at school and I’d fold paper cranes out of them just for fun. Yeah so maybe I was a kind of weird kid. Whatever, it’s paying off, right?!
I’ve been intending to put my creations in some shops for a while now, but haven’t had the right “cutting corners style” displays until recently. The thing is, I didn’t want to spend more on the display than I do on the actual earrings. But using upcycled materials had so far only given me dodgy-looking results.
This was until I chanced upon a car-boot sale in Torquay this Autumn. A lady was selling a whole box – a whole box – of old wooden restaurant table number stands. I got the whole box for $1. What a steal. Dad helped me work out a nice pattern of holes to drill in it, which I turned into a far more mathematical experience than he expected, and I can now fit nine pairs of earrings on each stand.
My next project is to create some signs to go with them then visit a few shops to do some deals.
Do you know any shops in Victoria that you think would be keen to try selling some of my origami earrings?