Sometimes the stars align and you come across people who you just know are the real deal.
A few months ago (and I can't remember how) I stumbled across the instagram account of @origami_est, otherwise known as Esther Thorpe. I cooed over her beautiful origami creations and prowled her website only to find that she is not only talented in the art of creating, but she also gives the proceeds of her makes to Stop The Traffik - the charity I've been really involved with over the guts of the last decade (and somehow managed to end up in Brazil with last year...more on that here).
Having dabbled in some basic origami myself, and because it is a really gorgeous unique craft (I'm much more of a paper craft girl, myself), I asked Esther if she would mind doing a little interview with me. I love to see people coupling their creativity with worthy causes and using the medium of craft to be an activist is one of my favourite things. She happily obliged and I'm so glad:
Tell us a bit about your fine paper folding self, Esther!:
Well, a year ago my husband, Ben & I moved to Deal, a small seaside town in Kent, for Ben’s work (he’s a vicar! - yes I’m a vicar’s wife!) And before moving I was teaching 5 & 6 year olds full time while making origami on the side. BUT when we moved I suddenly had a vast number of people contacting me & doors opening, so I decided to commit to origami-est fully. We made a spare room into a little workspace & I now work from home with the company of our house rabbits, Hugo & Florence.
I'm a huge fan of origami and your creations are so beautiful, how did you get into origami and what is it you love about it?
I have always been obsessed with making things, especially using paper. Even when I was preschool I remember endlessly making paper homes for my cuddly toys. When I was at school I was all about art, design and maths! Which never seemed to make sense to a lot of my teachers but when I went to university to study Graphic Design, it quickly became evident that origami marries all 3 things together! Throughout my degree and since, I have enjoyed stretching myself with more & more complex models and still find so much satisfaction transforming 2D square sheets into something even more beautiful!
What has been your favourite creation so far and why?
This is probably the hardest question to answer. I think a lot of creatives would agree with me when I say, it’s always my latest model. I love that my creations evolve and to celebrate where I’ve come from but at the same time I often cringe to see things I’ve created even just a few months ago. At the moment I am really excited about an exclusive collection of origami I am constructing for SMUG’s Christmas shop. There aren’t any new models featured but they are all in stunning ‘SMUG’ themed colours & there are slight tweaks to the way the models are hung.
Oooh, sounds gorgeous, can't wait to see them! Have you ever dabbled in other crafts? Whats the one craft you wish you could master?
I do dabble in other crafts, but not as often as I’d like! I really enjoy lots of crafts, like sewing, felting and decoupage BUT my real love is jersey yarn (available from Wool & the Gang). I enjoy using it for crochet but at the moment at a very basic level! I would love to master this and using the yarn to knit!
I love that you donate profits to Stop The Traffik, a charity close to my heart - what inspired you to do that?
I first heard about Stop the Traffik about 7 years ago, when they first started to mark the bicentenary since the abolition of slavery. I was shocked to hear the reality that modern day slavery is so prevalent. Since then, I have always supported them & really upped my support a few years ago, as a result of seeing Stacey Dooley’s BBC documentary: Sex Trafficking in Cambodia. My heart is just so broken for those trapped in slavery.
When (about 2 years ago) my friends started to suggest they actually wanted to BUY my origami creations - something I’d initially just been doing to decorate my own home or to give to friends and family, It just seemed right to marry the two passions together. To me, the great thing is that through my little business, people are becoming more aware of human trafficking & that’s just as important as the monetary gifts Origami-est is able to give.
Too right! I really really love that - so inspirational. Now, for all of us beginner origami warriors, what tips/resources can you recommend for getting us started well?
I always highly recommend Sok Song’s book CREASE & FOLD. There’s a great range of more basic to complex models & generally a more contemporary take on origami. I would also really suggest just experimenting with folding different papers & buying beautiful paper whenever you see it (otherwise you really will regret it!). When practising new models I will always use recycled papers from old magazines, so I’m not too precious if I go wrong. AND invest in a paper guillotine, then you are never limited to what papers you buy, you can just cut it down to size!
Thank you so much Esther, for sharing your passion and creativity with us. Don't forget, if you want to get your hands on some of Esthers much loved creations, you can do so in her online shop (what a brilliant treat for someone special AND give to an amazing charity!) and keep up with her new makings on her Instagram, Twitter and Facebook page!
*Photos by Laura Hutchinson Photography for Origami Est