Becketwood Cooperative
An Active, Independent 55+ Community of Owners in Minneapolis

Origami Tree

by Carol Masters, Becketwood Member

Note: This blog was originally published in 2016, but we wanted to share it with you again!

Original Origami Treeboys admiringDid you know Becketwood’s Origami Tree turned 21 this year? Each year’s intricate ornamentation seems lovelier than the last. In the early years of its formation, Origami Minnesota members spent regular hours in the craft room folding the constructions.


A notebook on a table nearby contained a picture of the first tree in 1994, along with more photos, newspaper articles, and Origami Minnesota newsletter items about the tree. The newsletter is no longer in publication, but a local group still meets (link above). Becketwood’s notebook is worth some time browsing (next year?), or you can just enjoy the petite paper sculptures in their various shapes and bright colors.

In December 1995, The Highland Villager described the tree as “decorated entirely with artfully folded paper angels, stars, Santa, chains of paper cubes, and … kusadama balls.”

Kusadama 2

Kusadama balls are made up of forty tiny pieces of paper folded into pleated cones, joined together. In earlier times, the balls were filled with aromatic herbs and hung over sickbeds to drive away noxious spirits.

The name origami is taken from Japanese ori meaning "folding" and kami meaning "paper," and refers to the art of paper folding often associated with Japanese culture and practiced since the Edo period (1603–1867). Traditionally a flat square sheet of paper is transformed into a finished sculpture through folding techniques, but modern practitioners are less strict about these conventions, sometimes cutting the paper or using nonsquare shapes to start with (Wikipedia). Some famous paper folders in history were Leonardo da Vinci, Houdini, the English poet Shelley, and Lewis Carroll (did he fold a Jabberwocky?).

Unicorn 5

A mythical creature that is part of the Becketwood tree’s history is a winged unicorn made by an Origami Minnesota member and father whose little daughter died (her composition about the unicorn is included in the notebook). He has memorialized his child through the little sculptures in many places around the world. In Becketwood, the miniature unicorn hangs inside a globe.

Many stories surround the collection of ornaments, garlands, and shining “presents” on and beneath the tree. Becketwood member Mary Walsh was instrumental in working with Origami Minnesota and still is central in organizing and maintaining this exquisite gift to Becketwood.



Holiday Pun

submitted by Howard Bergstrom, Becketwood Member (author unknown)

Each year, just before Christmas, a large hotel in a certain city annually sponsored an inter-city chess tournament. The chess team from a neighboring city won more than half the time, and they were very proud of it. One time after winning they were drinking in the bar then came out into the lobby and were bragging loudly.

Finally the hotel manager came out and shouted, “We can’t have you chess nuts boasting in an open foyer!”

Leave a Reply

  • carol bechtel January 5, 2016, 4:29 pm

    Thanks, Carol! For those of us too lazy to sit down & read the book near the tree, this is the perfect introduction. Well written, too.

  • Sonja Walker January 6, 2016, 6:01 pm

    Thank you. I’m inspired and will go back and look in detail. Oops, hope it is not down yet.

  • Barbara White December 26, 2016, 4:05 pm

    Carol, this information is so interesting. I am sending a copy of the blog to my family in Seattle, who saw the tree two years ago when they were here at Christmas. Mia and Ali (13 and 11) were entranced. The girls have made origami with their parents. My son lived with a Japanese family in Kyoto one year.