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Origami obsession: Thomson man creates shapes, patterns from pieces of paper

Years ago, Donald Hobbs saw a man sitting in a Chinese restaurant playing with his napkin. And life hasn't been the same since.

"When he finished, it was a bird," Mr. Hobbs said. "I thought it was the neatest thing."

Thus began the hobby of origami for Mr. Hobbs. Origami is the ancient Japanese art of folding paper to achieve shapes and patterns. According to Wikipedia, the term refers to all types of paper folding, even those of non-Asian origin.

"When I first started, I had a wastebasket full of mistakes," the Dearing resident said. "Then once I got the first one right, it became addictive."

Mr. Hobbs' origami is presently on display at the Thomson-McDuffie Library. The glass case is filled with brightly-colored forms including frogs, baskets, flowers, birds and jewelry, each created from square sheets of paper. Mr. Hobbs said four of the creations are made from one sheet of paper, and thirteen of them are made from two or more sheets.

Geometric shapes are more difficult, and also are Mr. Hobbs' favorite, because several shapes are connected together to make one. The star takes him two days to complete.

"It's just real unusual that men with large hands can do that delicate type of work," said librarian Suzan Harris. "We are thrilled that local people are willing to share their talent with us."

Mrs. Harris said she has been doing origami for years, and she hopes Mr. Hobbs will be able to teach a class to children during the summer reading program. Mrs. Harris said the art helps children develop the concept of following directions.

When Mr. Hobbs isn't folding paper, he is baking desserts for local restaurants, including Kent's and Poppa's Barbecue. He said he combines his two loves by making large origami baskets and filling them with cookies for gifts. He thinks teaching children is a great idea.

"I've been teaching my niece," he said. "Anybody can do it. It's fun."

Mr. Hobbs suggests that anyone who wants to learn origami check out books on the subject from the library or a book store.

"And practice, practice, practice," he said.

Web posted on Thursday, October 04, 2007

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