San Francisco-based artist Lilli Lanier (@lillilanier) has recently delved into woven origami works. They amaze me on so many levels, and she doesn’t even use glue! In addition to her own amazing work, she has also worked as a teaching artist for the past 15 years. I have always been fascinated with folding paper. While watching the 2010 Winter Olympics, I made a paper quilt with folded up pages of a discarded drugstore paperback. After having survived several moves, it suffered water damage one fateful winter five years later. I loved the piece but always considered it a bit of a failure because I used glue to put the pieces together; it felt like cheating. Lilli’s woven origami works are a feat of patience, thoughtfulness and colour.
How did you transition into geometric acrylic paintings, and then to this exploration into woven origami art?
I have been doing both the geometric paintings and the woven origami art for years. Each body of work informs and inspires the other. All of my work starts out in my sketchbook as rough drawings and sketches of things I notice in my day to day life. Often times I am inspired by shapes or patterns that come up in my students artwork, leaves, flowers and trees or things I see around the city. I then make a series of sketches and color studies. Then I decide if I should make the final piece in origami or paint it on canvas.
What is your process in creating layers and dimensions in the origami quilts? How does weaving play into the work?
What I enjoy most about the woven origami pieces is that they are assembled and woven together without any type of glue or adhesive. The paper weaves and interlocks into itself to hold it together. Sometimes I take the pieces apart to rearrange the color scheme and I love the fact that it is just paper, the simplest material you can find, cut, folded and woven together. I start with large sheets of paper that I score and cut down into 1/16ths or 1/64ths, then fold again and assemble. The process of weaving is very meditative and therapeutic for me.
How do you approach colour?
Each piece is inspired by something found in nature or my environment. I have hundreds of different shades of origami paper. Each shade of paper has a number and when I look at a sunset or a leaf, or whatever my inspiration may be, I write out a number pattern based on my origami color palette.