Origami is the art of paper folding. The word origami came from the Japanese language, where ori means to fold and kami means paper. While it is thought to be originated from Japan, the art also roots from the Chinese who invented paper about 2000 years ago.

In Brunei, origami is not as widely practiced but it can be seen in Japanese expos and events. Today in Voices in Brunei, we met with Nurhayati Mustapha, who creates 3D origami figures and conducts lessons of the art in her spare time.

Her interest in origami started four years ago, when she saw a colleague fold a piece of paper into figures. “When I was working at the Narcotics Control Bureau, I saw someone folding paper to create a swan. I was amazed by the transformation, so I asked her to teach me some techniques to create the origami figures. Soon, I found myself doing more research and challenging myself with the more complicated methods of origami,” said Nurhayati.

The 3D figures are mostly made out of normal A4 printing paper. This is different compared to the traditional origami where they use thin pieces of paper called kami or koly, and even paper-backed foil which is thicker.

“I use two types of paper – the normal A4 papers cut into squares, and a thicker type of paper that is used for bigger projects such as flowers. For me, using these types of paper is easier to be shape and model to specific characters,” she added.

It initially took her about three hours to make an origami vase from scratch, but after a lot of practice, simple figures takes her about three to five minutes to be completed. However, the more complicated figures such as a shoe, or the Eiffel Tower takes about an hour to three hours to be done.

The art of origami is cannot be without its own challenges. When she first started out, she expresses how time consuming it is as the process can take hours of your time when done wrongly.

“It can be frustrating when you don’t get the process right the first time. I had to consult a tutor to see what I did wrong, but from there I started to learn and with time, it did not take long for me to finish one figure,” said Nurhayati.

Now Nurhayati is able to cater to different types of designs that ranges from the basic vase to the more difficult shoe. She also give lessons to people who want to learn the craft. Her figures are a popular choice for door gifts at birthday parties. The paper folding process can help develop thinking skills or problem solving in children.

“For those who want to try out origami, the key is a lot of patience as you are constantly faced with some trial and error during the whole process,” she said. Nurhayati further expresses that she foresees a surge in paper made items such as vases, stationery holders and picture frames.

For more origami figures created and sold, you can check out her Instagram page.

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