Orizomegami: Gifts to Dye For

Learn the tie-dye-like Japanese art of folding and dyeing rice paper, known as “orizomegami,” for wrapping up a special gift.

Different symmetrical patterns will emerge, depending on the way you fold and dye your rice paper. Once the paper dries, get wrapping!

My love affair with dyeing happened suddenly, and took me by surprise. I’d been gifted an indigo dye kit, and one afternoon I decided to try it. I enjoyed the methodical process of setting up the dye bath and binding and tying the fabric. It was exciting to envision how the folds and shapes that I made would translate into patterns. This new way of working with dye seemed to combine everything that I love about making art: the meditative process, the unexpected patterns, and the deep, soulful colors the dyes can bring to a simple piece of cloth or paper.

There’s something satisfying and almost miraculous about teaching someone to dye for the first time. It doesn’t matter if you can’t draw or you’re not “crafty.” Almost everyone can wrap rubber bands around cloth and fold fabric with the same level of confidence. I’m always amazed in class as I watch students delight in their results and leave with the courage to move forward and experiment.

Dyeing also lends itself well to working together in groups, and the collaborative energy naturally leads to laughter and solidarity. This feeling of community and of finding success with a new craft is something that brings me back to teaching and to working with dye again and again. Gather together with friends and family, or even children, to try your hand at dyeing wrapping paper for gift-giving this new year. This calming, creative outlet is a great way to de-stress, while offering a personal touch to your gifts.

Make Your Own Orizomegami

For this colorful project, you’ll learn orizomegami, the Japanese art of folding and dyeing paper. I offer two variations of this project, which is an easy, versatile way to play with pattern and color combinations.

Make sure you have lots of extra rice paper on hand — orizomegami is so fun to make, you won’t want to stop once you start. Leftover sheets of paper can be used for collages, book art, or any other paper craft.

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