Bringing in Chinese New Year with origami lilies

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Happy Chinese New Year and Kung Hei Fat Choi to all my friends and fellow bloggers who celebrate this occasion! May the Year of the Horse bring everyone prosperity, good health and happiness around the world! I apologise for the lack of updates recently, I’ve been really busy at work and this weekend has been busy for me, trying to finish off the origami lilies and getting ready for CNY.

In my family, it’s customary to have water lilies, narcissus and peonies in the house, but because it’s not as easy to get these flowers from your local supermarket and having to worry about whether or not they’re cat-safe, I decdied to use the origami lilies I was working on with Heather at Yankee Doodle’s help to bring in CNY.

Normally this special day is celebrated with family and friends, first by enjoying a big feast full of various meat and seafood dishes on Chinese New Year’s Eve, followed by a day of vegetarian meals only on New Year’s Day. This is an important practice, especially with Taoist/Buddhist Chinese people as it signifies allowing animals a day of reprieve in the year. Traditions on the day include wearing new clothes (preferably red for good luck, although superstition warns against wearing red underwear as this attracts spirits!), not washing your hair or cleaning your house (this takes away your good luck), visiting family members and giving them your well wishes as well as younger generations receiving lucky money in red packets (or lai see). To celebrate the new year and to signify rebirth and new growth.

While Heather had used hers to make origami fairy lights, I had intended one bouquet to be placed at home, and one as a birthday present to the OH’s mum as a birthday present which fell on Chinese New Year this year (on the Christian calendar, this is 31 January 2014, but on the Lunar Chinese calendar, it’s 1 January 2014). So here’s what I did to get them how I wanted.

Materials:
Origami paper (I got lovely Chiyogami – traditional Japanese origami paper – from hao-dozo-japan)
Paper wrapped wire in (the 10m length I got from kenfraserflorist256 was long enough to make approx. 15cm stems for 55 origami lilies)
Scissors
Sellotape

1. To get started, you’ll first need to cut the very tip of the base of your lily. I would advise trying to cut the very tip (not much) as carefully as you can, the higher up the flower you go, the bigger your hole would be and your wire will come out, you’ll see what I mean in the next step.

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2. For the very first lily I added a stem to, I didn’t want to have to cut lengths and waste any part of the wire, so I threaded the wire through the hole at the bottom and added a knot at the top (where it’ll prevent the wire from slipping out) by curling the ends until it’s big enough to stop at the hole.

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3. I then measured the length of wire I need for the stem according to the vase it was going to be placed in before cutting this length.

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4. Using the length of wire I just cut, I was able to use this as a guide to cut the rest of the wire to the length I needed

5. To secure the wire to the lily on the bottom, I used sellotape to at the point of the wire that I wanted the lily to stay on (the knot at the top prevents the lily from falling off, but you don’t want the lily sliding down the wire either!)

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6. Repeat Steps 4 and 5 until all your lilies are…stemmed

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7. Technically if you’re not using the vase for any other purpose, you could just place the lilies how you like in the vase:

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But because I was using them for my Positivity Jar, I needed them to be easily removed as a bunch, so I arranged them while holding them and secured the stems just under the flowers and at the base with more sellotape:

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8. You can also tidy up the ends by snipping them to the same length at the base:

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Et voilà!

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The bouquet on the table is part of the OH’s mum’s birthday present and is tied with ribbon the family Hunting tartan

From folding 60 origami lilies over a 3-day span, it’s interesting for me to find I learned some important life lessons from this experience:

  • You need to follow each step to get end result: it might seem strange and sometimes life doesn’t go your way, but have we ever stopped to think that each decision we make shapes the path to our future?
  • Folding into quarters in the beginning to get water balloon base: if you skip this step, you won’t get the right shape to get to the next stage. Sometimes you have to build a foundation for the things you want to achieve in life to happen, sometimes it’s as easy as being open-minded to different solutions
  • Folding crease marks to let the petals sit: this isn’t a really necessary step I added to the end after I opened up the lily, but I found it let the petals stay open better this way. Adding a little extra touch to your creations and your projects give an added sense of satisfaction that you did everything to the best of your abilities
  • With each origami design, you learn steps required, some of which are used in various designs: like with learning any new skill, you start from the beginning and learn how to be good at what you do
  • Recognise your mistakes and fixing them: along the way, somehow the design won’t seem right to you and you can identify the markers/indicators that tell you what’s wrong with it (ie there’s a protruding ‘petal’ part of the kite or your balloon base isn’t sitting straight) and you can rectify this by going back to the previous step and improving your design, and indirectly, your way of thinking

So how does this all apply to the meaning of life? It’s all about recognising the mistakes you’ve made and avoiding making the same ones again and again. It’s about realising how to improve your inner peace and self to be happy with what you’ve got in life and to improve your skills. Life is all about learning, building relationships with others and feeling you’ve got a purpose to achieve: to better yourself and to find a purpose to work towards. Each stage of life involves meeting certain goals, but just because you don’t meet them doesn’t mean you’ve failed. You can still try and achieve them at the next stage or your priorities might change. It’s all about what you want to achieve. Origami folding is an activity that lets your mind be free of your troubles for the 5 minutes, or however long you decide, to spend on achieving perfection in your paper creations. It doesn’t help you resolve the issues you’re experiencing, but it will give you a clearer mind to think things through in a calm manner.

The reason why I decided to use my Positivity Jar as a vase instead of finding an empty one is also a reminder to me that my positive thoughts and memories, and other pieces of wisdom and advice I’ve collected since the new year started, fosters growth and well being. Positive thoughts means not dwelling on the negative aspects of life, learning from your mistakes and learning to be a better person, for the world and for yourself. Symbolically, each piece of paper in the jar is part of the soil that provides nutrients for the flowers to grow; aesthetically, it’s a visual symbol that thoughts on paper can also bloom into beautiful flowers (ie your personal growth). It is also a reminder that we can always improve our thoughts and actions to foster positivity in others which in turns enhances our inner peace and self satisfaction for having done good for the world, even if it was helping out one person in need that day.

There is no path to happiness: happiness is the path

Buddha

I’ve also been busy putting together the fabric for my midi skirt project, oen of which is now finished and I’m quite pleased with the end result and can’t wait to wear it soon! Because it’s knit jersey, it’s a medium weight fabric so it’s thick (and heavy!) enough to wear for winter with tights and knee- high boots, and for autumn it’ll also be nice to wear with flats. I imagine for a slightly cool summer with flats would also work with the knit jersey midi skirt, otherwise I’ve still got my pink marbled one to make!

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Fabric and lining I bought and cut for my midi skirt projects. I’ve made the knit jersey midi skirt already (check patterned knit jersey with grey lining, on the left)

I’ll post more details about my finished jersey knit skirt later, I’m also excited to be revealing the adjustments I’ve made to this skirt which differs from my original polyester circle skirt that I made a while ago!

What do you think about my origami lily bouquets? How did you celebrate CNY?

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