Origami Bonsai, Paper Jewelry, and More by Benjamin Coleman

Several years ago Benjamin Coleman of Rhode Island was gifted with an origami book that changed his life. He had found success in the business world, then turned to teaching math as a creative outlet, but felt something was missing.

Benagami silk technique pink columbine in Makigami pendant

The book brought back memories of a favorite childhood pastime, making origami Christmas decorations with his father. Once again Ben found himself enjoying the process of folding paper, all the while marveling at the dual aspects of complexity and simplicity.

Benagami Shadowcaster origami windswept bonsai tree

Ever since accidentally creating an original, perfect flower from an origami eagle pattern in 2006, Ben has been devoted to making bonsai botanical sculptures from recycled paper... he calls them Benagami.

Shadowcaster close up

Ben sells his creations via his Etsy shop, Benagami, and he's put his teaching skills to use by writing Origami Bonsai, a how-to manual, so anyone can learn to make beautiful origami floral arrangements.

Ben's invention of Makigami is especially intriguing... it means roll-paper in Japanese and is the technique he enlists to make bonsai branches. Newspaper is soaked in a water-based mixture and then rolled into stems. When dry, the stems are assembled as branches, painted, and adorned with flowers and leaves.

Benagami/Makigami teardrop ornament

Makigami works just as well for other items too, such as his curved pendants, ornaments, and these stylish napkin rings...

and bracelets, which can even double as drapery tie-backs!

But Ben has another use in mind for Makigami that's especially fascinating. If you're like me and think sadly about the number of plastic objects we repeatedly throw away, Ben says that manufacturing disposable items, such as pens, razor handles, and toothbrushes of Makigami, would save a tremendous amount of natural resources.

A Makigami pen decomposes within three months of being discarded, whereas a traditional plastic pen takes 450 years! And it requires just 1/10 the energy and 1/1000 the petrochemicals to make, in comparison to the plastic model. Considering over 100 billion plastic pens are manufactured annually, Makigami pens certainly sound like a win-win solution.

Contact Ben via Benagami for more information.

Ann Martin
Ann Martin

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  1. Wow, what wonderful work! Thank you so much for sharing this. I'm very intrigued by Ben's creativity.

  2. Hi Ann!!!

    You introduce us so wonderful artists that I really don´t have enough words to say thank you!!!!
    It´s a wonderful origami work. Thanks a zillion for sharing with us.

  3. Amazing work, love the trees, and the idea that we should use the technique for pens and stuff is wonderful I will be checking out his site too!

  4. I love Ben's artwork, great concept, especially the chess set on etsy. It's amazing what can be made with humble paper.


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