We hope to introduce you to all the great Etsy sellers to be found right here in Toronto. Here at the T.E.S.T. blog, we plan to interview them all. This is the 46th in our series with Gavin of FoldItCreations.
Tell us about yourself and FoldIt Creations.
I was born an raised in rural Newfoundland, studied visual arts at Concordia University in Montreal and recently moved to Toronto via South Korea where I was working as an English teacher for a few years.
FoldIT Creations came about fairly serendipitously. While teaching at an elementary school in Seoul, my students would often bring me origami gifts they had made; roses, hearts, cranes, fish and little boxes that opened. I marveled at how tiny they could make them, but never thought I had the patience to do it myself.
In 2011, I travelled to Tokyo to spend Christmas with a friend. As a gift, she gave me my first set of beautifully printed Japanese chiyogami folding papers and I was instantly hooked.
Back at my desk in Korea, I folded obsessively on winter break and posted pics of my creations on my facebook. An auntie of mine from Ghana saw what I was doing and requested that I make her some earrings - just like that FoldIT Creations was born.
FoldIT Creations specializes in handmade wearable paper art using premium quality Japanese chiyogami paper combined with semi-precious stones and metals.
How did you become involved in jewellery making?
One of my best friends is a jeweler and has been doing it in various capacities her entire life. I've spent countless hours with her in her studio watching her work and learning about stones and crystals. I've always had a fascination with what she does, but never saw myself as a jewelry maker. I got into this completely by chance and ended up really loving it.
What inspired you to utilize origami in such a unique way?
As I said previously, it was my auntie who had suggested it to me. I enjoy the process of origami; taking a single piece of paper and folding it into an endless number of possible forms. However, I am also a believer in practicality. I like making things that have some type of practical value, so origami as jewelry gives these paper creations another way of being enjoyed beyond just something pretty to look at.
You've travelled all around the world, how have your travels inspired your designs?
I have always been kind of obsessed with textiles and patterns. When I was in Africa, I would often visit the fabric markets to purchase wax batiks and mud cloth. I never knew why I collected them because I couldn't even use a sewing machine; I just really appreciated the motifs and colors. Later, when at university, I began incorporating patterns and textiles into my drawing and paintings. I think this is why Japanese chiyogami appeals to me so much; the designs and patterns originally come from kimono printing but have been applied to the paper industry in recent years.
How do you find the experience of on-line selling, compared with selling person-to-person?
I feel that selling online is a little more challenging than selling in real life. There is a lot of competition online, especially with origami jewelry, so it is hard to set yourself apart from all the others and really stand out. There is no direct tactile customer experience with your product on Etsy, which I think is important in selling jewelry. People want to know how it looks on them, how it feels and see the quality of the materials used in its construction. With online sales customers have to trust the pictures you provide and if you don't have good pictures, you don't make good sales.
What is your favourite shape to fold?
Oh! That's a tricky one... A lot of my favorite things to fold can't be made into jewelry because they are too complicated and cannot be made on a small scale. In terms of jewelry designs, it changes every week. I learn a new design, fold it obsessively until it is imprinted into my head and I'm sick of it, then move on to a new design. At the moment I am really into modular origami designs; many separate pieces that are cut and folded independently then interlock to make a sturdy geometric shape.
Check out the other items available from Gavin in his Etsy shop! You can find more of his work on his blog and Facebook.
Interviewed by Danielle of BakedSoapCo in January 2013 in Toronto.