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Mui-Ling Teh

Art and Words from the Heart

 
 
 
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Origami

(Last updated 2015/01/11)

 

(This page is intended to share about my background in origami. If you are interested in making purchases, please see the shop page.)
 

"I hope God likes chocolate!" by Mui-Ling TehBack in elementary school, a teacher of mine read to our class the story of “Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes”; based on a true story about a girl who was infected with leukemia, and folded paper cranes in hope of recovering. While Sadako Sasaki was in the hospital, friends and family saved scraps of paper for her to fold paper cranes out of. One day Sadako’s mother brought a piece of paper saved by Sadako’s sister. Sadako took the paper and said “Mmmm, smells like candy. I hope God likes chocolate”. Everyone laughed including Sadako. After hearing that story I began having an origami obsession.

My passion for origami came back at around the beginning of April 2008. One day, I took a random strip of paper and cut myself a square to fold a crane; and because I was daydreaming I didn’t pay attention to how small the paper was. After completing the crane I realized I had folded something very small, and used the crane to created the work known as Born from the hand.

 

"Born from the Hand" by Mui-Ling TehThe folding of the crane wasn't difficult; photographing it, on the other hand, proved to be a challenge. After various attempts to get a photo that looked decent, I realized, more than ever, that photography is an art. First, I needed to create a good composition; I tried various combinations of hand poses and crane placements, until I finally settled with the presentation of my hand framing the crane. Secondly, I needed to take the photo well. It was one thing to work with a small subject and an ordinary lamp; in my initial trial shots my crane often came out too bright. Additionally, I was using a compact camera with no tripod, and taking macro shots on my camera required both the camera and subject to be extra still. I had to use one hand to hold and shoot with the camera on macro mode while keeping it still, while keeping the other one still in front of the camera with a very light and delicate crane sitting on it; having good control of both hands was difficult. There were further challenges with this particular photo, including the fact that sometimes the crane fell off my hand as I took the picture. Occasionally new ideas introduced new challenges, but overtime I practiced and got a better hang of photographing my miniature origami; I  used whatever props I had, and whatever backdrop I could set-up as I did not (and still don't) have a photo studio - most often I placed a piece of clothing over a box to use as a background. Coming up with ways of presenting my origami was like designing sets for a play, and was lots of fun - photos like these were very much an art. As I took more photos of my origami and played with the settings of my camera, I got a better understanding of what worked best.

"Born from the Cell" by Mui-Ling Teh

"Born from the Hand" was folded entirely by hand; and since then I continued to fold a series of miniature origami; sometimes with the assistance of tweezers depending on the size and complexity of the model. My earliest pieces mostly consisted of basic set-ups of my hand holding my origami; the smallest to date being Born from the Cell, folded from a piece of paper measuring 3x3mm - this photo needed to be taken through a magnifying glass to be made out clearly through the simple lens of my compact camera. On the first attempt that crane took about an hour to fold. As of 2010, I have been able to fold "Born from the Cell" in 20 minutes, while "Born from the Pinky" takes me 5 minutes as of 2013.

During the time that I began folding miniature origami, I didn't know of anyone else who did it; though a few months later learned that there are other origami artists who do miniature paper folding - some who have done even smaller than my smallest. By then however, I was already no longer attempting to create the smallest models and was more focused on creating conceptual photos with my origami as opposed to basic set-ups; which sometimes required me to fold bigger to work with other subjects I had in my photos.

All my origami photos were taken with simple compact cameras; more can be read in the Photography section.

In my earliest works, I often included my hand in the photo to show a comparison in scale, but overtime I came up with creative ways of presenting my works with household items to create stories out of them. Sometimes a photo will be basic, sometimes humorous, but most often they will be poetic; having deep meaning or an underlying story to them.

 

 

 

"Born from the Hand" by Mui-Ling Teh

Out of a daydream you were born from the hand,
And began a journey in your creator’s land.

 

"Fly" by Mui-Ling Teh

Hand in hand let’s fly together,
Where dreams and happiness live forever.

 

"3cm Family Swim" by Mui-Ling Teh

Lets go outside to play
And have some fun today!

 

 "Arctic Playground" by Mui-Ling Teh

Snow on the ground like cold white sand
Turn into ice for winter wonderland!

 

"Red String of Fate" by Mui-Ling Teh

I feel my heart being pulled when we are not together,
Longing for the day we are with each other.
The thread between us will never break;
Our destinies are tied by the red string of fate.

 

"Wish" by Mui-Ling Teh

May every seed fly its way to you,
Upon its wings may every wish come true.

 

(Note: A few have thought that "Wish" was created out of Photoshop, but it is actually an unedited photo. Read more about the creation of this image in my description here.)

 

 

See my miniature origami calendar here

Miniature origami calendar by Mui-Ling Teh

I would be happy to switch around images or make custom calendars upon request.

 

 

In 2010 I lost a collection of my miniature origami,
and produced another calendar in tribute to those lost works

"In memory of my works lost... on January 7, 2010" calendar by Mui-Ling Teh

My collection was kept inside of a Kinder Surprise container that fell out of my knapsack during one crazy day at school. Confusing it for garbage, the custodians swept it up and threw it away.

 

The incident was a devastating one, but it also inspired me to come up with artworks big enough to appreciate in real life, while retaining the quality of miniature folding:

 

"Freedom" by Mui-Ling Teh

We were all once stardust; we came from the sky.
Some of us stayed on the ground; others learned to fly.

 

"Timeline" by Mui-Ling Teh

I was not born with these lines,
They accumulated with time.

Everything begins clean and neat,
White as a brand new sheet.

But overtime life collects stains
After years of learning pain.

But we learn to stand after falling on our knees.
From fresh new sprouts we become trees.

 

"Together we lift" by Mui-Ling Teh

A little bit at a time
Can bring a successful climb.
And with an extra hand
We’ll rise over the land.

 

 

I also take pictures using standard size origami; I have done various experiments with acetate folding and have also come up with a few designs of my own.

 

"Glow" by Mui-Ling Teh

"Folded Cup" by Mui-Ling Teh

"Serenity, the Firefly Spacecraft" by Mui-Ling Teh
 

Miniture red origami crane and maple leaf in a bottle by Mui-Ling Teh, with the message "Always Together" written below on a yellow label. Origami design by Mui-Ling Teh. The crane and the leaf are made out of one paper.

 

Miniature white origami ballerina by Mui-Ling Teh, hanging on a needle in a bottle; with the word "Dream"  on a yellow label below.

 

 

 

I have also folded with copper tape, as well gummy candy!

 

"Ninja Star" by Mui-Ling Teh

"Origummy" by Mui-Ling Teh

 

 

 

See more examples of my origami here

Or see original pieces of origami have for sale here.

 

Miniature origami in bottles by Mui-Ling Teh

 

 

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All content here is © Copyright Mui-Ling Teh, All Rights Reserved, and may not be used without my permission. Any site using my images against my conditions have not sought proper permission and should be reported or brought to my attention immediately.

 

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