Origami enthusiasts across Hong Kong have been organizing monthly meet-ups to share their love of the traditional Japanese art form, which involves folding a single sheet of paper into various decorative shapes and figures.
Created by government employee Matthew Wong, the group provides a welcoming and inclusive space for individuals of all backgrounds and ages to connect, exchange ideas, and indulge in their shared passion for the minimalist craft.
During his university days, Wong started using Instagram to share his creations with others, but found himself wanting to connect even more with individuals who felt a similar fondness for the art form.
In July last year, Wong organized a small gathering with others in his community to give them the chance to learn how to fold new origami patterns, share their latest creations and exchange tips and techniques.
At first, the gathering drew only a handful of participants, but it quickly gained momentum as word spread. By the third meeting, over 60 members were taking part, attracting new creators from a range of different backgrounds.
Each gathering starts with a dedicated volunteer teacher who gives a hands-on tutorial and introduces participants to new techniques by guiding them through the creation of a specific origami model.
Beginners are encouraged to take their first steps into the world of origami, while more experienced folders can showcase their expertise by helping those around them.
After the teaching session, participants unveil their latest origami creations and exchange ideas. They take turns explaining the inspiration for their latest designs, discussing the challenges they encountered during the creative process and sharing the techniques they employed.
Regular attendee Ken Lin, a 15-year-old high schooler, first discovered his excitement for origami in 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic.
After coming across an origami book at home, he was driven by curiosity to recreate the various designs he found within its pages and quickly became enthralled by the craft.
He eventually befriended Wong through Instagram and, two years on, Lin has become a skilled origami artist. He often serves as a volunteer teacher at the meetings.
"To me, origami feels like magic," Lin says. "From a single, unassuming sheet of paper, you can create complex designs."
It has also helped him hone his problem-solving skills and improve his mathematical abilities, which he says has been useful in his studies.
TC Wong, who has been practicing the art form for decades, is another notable presence at meetings. At 60 years old, he has worked as Hong Kong's only full-time origami artist since 2010.
His fascination with origami began through reading craft books in childhood like many other Hong Kong kids who picked up the hobby, but he never dreamed of making it into a career one day. He had been working as an electronics and computer engineer in a factory on the mainland but switched careers upon his return to Hong Kong.
It was tough going at first, but with family support, TC Wong was able to pursue his calling. He now makes a living by running origami workshops and selling handcrafted paper creations.
As the community of origami enthusiasts continues to grow, host Matthew Wong hopes to cultivate a new generation of origami enthusiasts.
"Ultimately, I want to spread the word about origami in Hong Kong and let more people know about this art form, so that origami will become as popular as other common hobbies," he said.