By Charlotte McCauley
When Mak Furuta was a child, his mother would give him paper at restaurants to keep him busy and out of mischief.
Once in Mak’s hands, the paper transformed. It could become anything from a flying crane to a five-inch, woven tetrahedron.
Mak’s hands and imagination are the only tools he uses to make his works of folded-paper art. He a self-taught maker of origami, the traditional Japanese art of folding paper. Two of his favorite things to create are cranes and elephants. He even uses innovative substitutes for paper such as tin cans and maps.
Mak not only works with origami, but also plays the cello and piano, draws, and works with clay. He enjoys all art forms, because they are a means of self-expression.
Mak feels that origami has changed the way he looks at the world. “Origami makes me see things in 3D, understand how things are made, and the way they are put together,” he said.
His desire to learn more about origami was part of the reason he decided to create a club strictly for people who like to fold paper. In 2011 Mak founded a group called the “Atlanta MeetUp Origami Club.”
Mak wanted “a group where new folders, advanced folders, and people of all ages could get together and fold.”
About 40 people joined the group, which meets at the Whole Foods in Buckhead.
Mak enjoys teaching people his craft. He especially likes teaching children. “I like seeing them smile,” Mak said.
At Whole Foods, Mak was featured in the store’s “Local Artist Spotlight.” He designed and decorated an entrance for the grocery on West Paces Ferry. His creation included origami bees and flowers.
You can also see Mak every Saturday at the Peachtree Road Farmers Market in Buckhead. He sells his work there alongside local artist and farmers.
It was there that Mak was noticed by Mason Poe, creative director of IQ Ad Agency. Poe got Mak involved in a promotion project for a paper company. He is creating a time lapse, stop-motion of himself creating a gigantic origami piece.
“Mak is the Shawn White of origami,” Poe said. “He can really do anything. It’s amazing to watch.”
After graduation from North Atlanta High School, Mak hopes to study Industrial Design or Engineering at Georgia Tech. And he plans to continue to practice origami.