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Uncovering the hidden beauty in paper

by Christine Galeone

Have you noticed that artists and artisans seem to have a different way of looking at the world?  They can look at a block of ice and see a complex sculpture. They can see far beyond the surface into a world filled with hidden possibilities. 

Lisa Shea, an origami artist, can see a delicate, vibrant world in a single piece of paper, and, then, she brings the most beautiful parts of that world to life. “I can take junk mail, discarded flyers, bills and all sorts of other paper surfaces and use them to create beautiful ornaments and home décor,” said Ms. Shea. “I could have fresh flowers every week of the year simply by folding a new batch from items which appear in my mailbox.”

Exploring the hidden world of paper has led the Sutton resident to be part of some unique adventures. One that was particularly meaningful involved a dream Japanese-themed wedding that the “Today Show” had created for a couple in 2008. The “Today Show” hired her to create the décor. And she said there were precise requirements for every item. 

“For example, the struts on a bridge were created by strings of origami cranes, and the strings, therefore, had to fit precisely into the bridge to create a smooth visual appearance,” recalled Ms. Shea, who noted that she and her boyfriend worked hard for weeks to ensure everything met the specifications, before they drove the origami décor to New York City and set it up. She added “We then got to watch the wedding live the next day on TV. That was quite exciting!”

But Ms. Shea, who’s also an author, said she enjoys all of the projects she works on. “I create ornaments for holiday celebrations. Flowers for weddings,” she said. “A large number of people contact me at the last minute, desperate, for a first wedding anniversary present, since that is the paper anniversary. Each new opportunity gives me a chance to bring joy to a person’s life.”

In addition to bringing people joy, she hopes her origami art will inspire people to think about what’s important in their lives. “Origami helps to remind us of how ephemeral our world is,” said Ms. Shea. “How our time here on Earth is fleeting. We should treasure every day. We should look around us and realize what is truly precious.”

To her, one of those things is sharing her talents with others in different ways. And the Blackstone Valley Art Association is currently providing her with the chance to do so in Grafton.  The BVAA holiday pop-up shop, which is located on the Grafton Common through Dec. 17, will feature many of her origami earrings, ornaments, mobiles and flowers. She has also been enjoying giving origami demonstrations. “One of my favorite ways to enjoy origami is to help others learn the craft,” said Ms. Shea. “Folding origami is fairly easy to learn – and it can then create a lifetime of beauty and joy…”

For more information about Lisa Shea and her origami art, please visit her website, www.lisashea.com/artwork. If there’s a Blackstone Valley artist or artisan who you feel should be featured in this series, please email your suggestion to Christine Galeone at [email protected].