June's Featured Member~Sarah Whitman of Hanami Gallery

June's featured member is our newest member Sarah Whitman of Hanami Gallery. Sarah is a maker of origami cards, ornaments, and tsumami kanzashi. She impressed us with her beautiful, bright, fun and intricate designs. A trip through her shop is like a walk through a florist. Although we have yet to meet Sarah in person, we are convinced her love of laughter makes her an excellent fit in our group. We asked Sarah to tell us about herself.

Welcome to Arts In RI Sarah. Can you give us a little background on yourself:

I grew up in the Poconos of Pennsylvania. I went to high school in New Jersey and then did 1 year of college at University of Vermont. After listening to too many drum circles I transferred to Syracuse University where I got my degrees in Mathematics and Economics. I have been in art classes since I was a kid, but honestly didn't think I would have a job as an artist which is why I chose those degrees....and here I am not doing anything with them. I have done regressional analysis to determine my target market....nope just kidding.

When did you first become interested in your art form?

Ive been doing origami since I was a kid. I then became interested in modular origami in college and even did an event for Pi Mu Epsilon on the mathematics of modular origami. So, I have always liked working in paper. Two years ago I visited Japan and picked up a ton of craft books one of which was on tsumami kanzashi. To me it was a lot like origami, except instead of folding paper it was silk.

What inspires you?

colors, stuff, and things....hahaha. For my kanzashi some are based off of real flowers, cool colors, maybe a piece of fabric, and scenery. For my cards the inspiration is the paper. I try to showcase the beautiful paper and which origami design can best accomplish that.

Does living in Rhode Island influence your work in any way?

I have had it influence my kanzashi, but not really my cards. I hope in the future to have more Rhode Island inspired pieces~

What techniques do you use the most in your work?

Folding. Hands down its what is done the most. I fold the kanzashi with tweezers and fold origami with a guitar pick.

What do you find most challenging in your work?

Being satisfied with my work. When I am done I am usually picking out little things that I wish were better, but this helps me make better products next time.

How did you find Etsy?

I was referred by a friend of my fiances.

Apart from your Etsy work, what do you do?

I enjoy knitting and just learned to crochet from a Japanese book. Since I have been dyeing silk I have really enjoyed dyeing my own yarn. Although I am sure my family and friends are sick of getting scarfs for Christmas~ haha.

What's your favorite place in Rhode Island?

I live in Providence, but I really enjoy the rural areas in Rhode Island and visiting farms.
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6 Responses
  1. Tracy Says:

    Welcome Sarah!!

  2. Julie Beck Says:

    I have a degree in Math too!

  3. Math rocks the socks! yeah!!! awesome!!! we can be nerdy and do math for fun at events!! hahahaha, though you are probably better than i am!!!

  4. Deborah Says:

    Congrats to you Sarah! You are the BEST! You can do anything you set your mind to! Creating beautiful objects is your calling... You do it well & take much pride in your work! Keep on Dreaming & loving life!.... We love you! <3

  5. Valerie Says:

    Welcome Sarah, I love your shop and look forward to meeting you soon.