By Josh Saunders
Incredible origami artist folds mesmerizingly tiny cranes with bare hands that are only HALF AN INCH – a fraction of a fingernail tall.
Stacie Tamaki, 52, Greenville in Michigan, USA, believes her miniature masterpieces help others to find inner peace for a few moments and realise anything is possible.
She was seven-years-old when her grandmother taught her the Japanese paper folding art, since then she has made over 27,000 pieces.
After entering a 19-day art competition in 2014, she decided to make a business selling her magnificent miniature wonders – including Bonsai trees with origami leaves, 1000 crane mobiles and more.
The dexterous miniature origami artist, can fold paper cranes measuring a minuscule quarter of an inch in her hands and without any assistance in as little as five minutes.
With other creations, such as the frogs and turtles on half inch paper, she uses tweezers to make the intricate folds, taking up to an hour and even then, only every third attempt is a success.
Stacie said: “The smallest I have made is from half an inch of square paper, I don’t use tweezers for the cranes of this size but do need it for the frogs to make the bends in their tiny legs and feet.
“Even with tweezers the frogs still take up to an hour and only every third one is right. Using the tweezers doesn’t necessarily make it easier, it’s hard judging the pressure on the paper.
“With my bare hands if I’m folding cranes from half an inch of paper, as long as I have good light which is very important, I would say it takes about five minutes.
“I like to make a moment for people and for them to realise ‘oh my gosh’ it’s paper and so small.
“The moment people realise what they are looking at, their faces light up and jaws drop, they hit the person next to them because they are so shocked.
“If they have never seen one before, they are shocked by how small they are – even the photos and written descriptions don’t prepare them for seeing one in person.
“Even though it’s just a piece of paper, it’s about being able to show others something they wouldn’t have thought was possible.
“For them that may trigger them to think about what else is possible for themselves, their children, the world.
“I realised my hope for world peace is very idealistic and it’s better for me to focus on individuals and helping people find their own inner peace, as that creates peace in the world.
“All I need is one tiny crane put in the palm of a person’s hand for them to find peace in the world at that moment.
“I used to show the scale of my creations by putting the piece beside a ruler, then I was using American coins but realised everyone all over the world may not know the size of a penny or a quarter.
“I tried to figure out other things, I made a bunny rabbit and put it next to a single grain of brown rice and turtles next to coffee beans to give a more universal sense of scale.”
For the tiniest creations, which she makes without tweezers she needs her good lighting, perfectly cut paper and her reading glasses.
She believes that her focus and ability to produce such small creations could stem from having better than average eyesight.
Stacie said: “Odd I have had better than 20-20 vision for most of my life and not known, when I went to the eye doctor a few years back because I felt my vision had gotten blurry.
“They did all the tests and told me I had 20-20 vision then, so it must have been better before.
“Maybe that’s part of what helped me work with such a miniature medium, before my vision was so sharp.
“The paper has to be cut absolutely square, in that scale the end result won’t come out correctly if it is not.
“From there it is over 15 separate folds but only seven steps, many are repeated multiple times, so it’s less confused and complicated.
“For me it’s harder to fold something on the standard 6×6 paper than it is to fold with smaller paper.”
Stacie was first given Origami books as a child but maintains her Grandmother’s lesson with the art at the age of seven was one of her most poignant memories.
Now she sees her creations as a way of honouring her ‘gentle spirited’ family member.
She said: “She passed away when I was ten-years-old, but I have two very fond memories of her – one of her picking up bumblebees and letting them crawl on her hands.
“She was not afraid and encouraged me to pet their fuzzy little bodies while they fed on clover, I did and never got stung.
“I also remember the day she taught me how to make a paper crane with a sky-blue piece of origami
paper, while sitting on the front porch on a warm summer’s day.
“She was a wonderful role model and even though I only knew her for ten short years, origami is my most tangible connection to her.
“I love folding that tiny cranes are a way for me to honour her memory.”
After learning to make cranes and other creations, Stacie says she would only show-off the skill as a ‘party trick’ making two or three a year.
In 1995, she decided to fold 1,000 cranes to fit into a small glass display case and from there after entering an art competition, decided to start her business a year ago.
Stacie said: “I fold every day, I can fold cranes or other pieces for seven hours straight, but with thicker paper after 20-30 minutes if I don’t let me arm rest I can get tendonitis, so have to stop.
“For ArtPrize total I have taken 15,000 miniature origamis over the course of the four years I have competed there.
“I have given away over 1,000 each year, addition to those that I literally fold and giveaway there each day for the 19-day duration of the event each autumn.”
Stacie now sells her wears through Miniature Origami by Stacie Tamaki online and on Etsy.
Additionally, she also teaches the skill to others and uses it as a way to raise awareness of Japanese culture.
She said: “I encourage people to try origami, there are resources and books they can check out at the library, as well as videos online.
“I sell my pieces in local shops, on the internet and am also hired to give presentations about my work and do live demonstrations of folding.
“Making miniature origami is not a unique ability, the most unique thing about it is that I ever thought to try.
“When I started it was important for me that every single crane was perfect, somewhere along the line I had an epiphany that the intention is more important.
“That’s my new mantra now, I remind myself intention is more important than perfection.”
To see more of her work visit: www.stacietamaki.com.