Paste Paper, 3D Origami, and Calligraphy - Candy Wooding of My Paper Arts

Because I constantly find myself pinning the handmade box and envelope tutorials that Candy Wooding shares on My Paper Arts, it's high time I devote an entire post to her beautiful creations. (2018 edit: The site is no longer available, but if you are on Facebook, follow Candy's artistic pursuits via her page, Candy Wooding.)

paste paper triangle favor boxes
triangle favor boxes


Candy utilizes hand painted paste papers in many ways, and I don't mean just these sweet favor boxes that hold a single truffle or chocolate bar.

Truffle Box DIY
truffle box

 Crown Jewel Heart Box DIY
crown jewel heart box


You might be familiar with the traditional paper craft called 3D origami that kids of all ages do to make swans, Minions, and the like. Candy, on the other hand, uses the same folding technique to create elegant Earth Spirit Vessels, often in subdued colors, on a commissioned basis. I asked her to tell us about them.

Earth Spirit Vessel - Broken Wing
Broken Wing


My Earth Spirit Vessels are made using a technique called 3D origami or modular origami or Golden Venture origami. The technique originated in China and was popularized in the US in the 1990s when Chinese refugees, from the ship The Golden Venture, were imprisoned in the US as illegal immigrants. While in prison, they combined their traditional Chinese modular paper folding with materials at hand, such as magazine covers, to make birds and other traditional Chinese forms.


Burl Wood Base inside Earth Spirit Vessel
burl wood base


When I started working with modular origami, the vessel shape just happened. The more I worked, the more I became entranced with this form. My first vessels were made from brown toned papers, which gave the feeling of earth. I wrote sayings, prayers and quotes about the earth on some of the papers before folding them to become part of the vessel. That's where the name Earth Spirit Vessel originated.


Forest Tapestry Earth Spirit Vessel
Forest Tapestry


Because the vessels took so much time to make, I searched for an archival paper that wouldn't fade over time and found Hahnemühle Ingres, a text weight, colorfast paper that I now use for my vessels. Since each one takes anywhere from a week to three months to complete, I want to make sure it will last a lifetime. Sometimes I will paint the paper with archival paste and pigment (paste paper) before making it into a vessel.


Old Faithful Earth Spirit Vessel
Old Faithful


Each Earth Spirit Vessel is made from hundreds of pieces of hand folded paper. Within 25 of the papers are hand calligraphed quotes, inspirations and prayers relating to Mother Earth and Nature. Once folded and made a part of the vessel, these are not meant to be seen or read, but to be embodied into the spirit of the vessel itself.


 Ocean Currents Earth Spirit Vessel
Ocean Currents

I have made Earth Spirit Vessels containing as few as 288 pieces of folded paper to as many as over 1,400 pieces of paper. Each Earth Spirit Vessel comes with its own documentation including a photograph of the calligraphy on the 25 pieces of paper. The photo is taken before I fold them into the body of the vessel. Here is an example of one quote.

 Earth Spirit Vessel Calligraphy

I hand glue each piece so that the vessel will keep its shape. I can make vessels without glue, but then their shape can be manipulated and it is easy for them to become misshapen or come apart if one is not careful. So far no one has ever wanted me to make a vessel without glue.

River Bend Earth Spirit Vessel
 River Bend Earth Spirit Vessel


The process of making an Earth Spirit Vessel is almost like a meditation. I fold the papers and write the calligraphy while at my drafting table where I can look out at the mountains and forest here in Oregon. It is extremely contemplative and makes me feel so grateful and blessed. I build each vessel, one row at a time, gluing each piece individually after adjusting the shape of the row. Lastly, I make the bottom of the vessel out of burl wood that I get from It's A Burl in Kerby.


Paste Paper Lotus Flower 


Candy dedicated 2011 to what she called her Lotus Flower Project. Each day she made at least one lotus while recovering from a broken ankle. She credits the zen quality of concentration with touching some inner quality of her soul.

Paste Paper Envelope

Last month she committed herself to sending a handmade and hand calligraphed envelope and letter each day, as April is National Letter Writing Month. I was one of the lucky recipients of her efforts... my mail-lady was impressed and so was I! (of course it looked even better before I photoshopped out my address. :)) 

Paper Covered Pencils


One last thing to show you... she loves to wrap pencils with specialty papers. Something ordinary becomes less so. She often uses her own decorative paste papers, but puzzle fanatics especially love these The New York Times crossword pencils.

Ann Martin
Ann Martin

This is a short biography of the post author and you can replace it with your own biography.


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