Kumiko Morse dresses in her traditional Japanese yukata and wears her own origami flower hair pin. Photo by Adam Finkle

It’s like this: You’re at the mall, you see something shiny, and you revert to your pubescence. “OMG, it’s so cute!” You know it’s a waste of money, you know it’s junk, but it’s so you—and cheap. Two months later, every stone on your once-shiny chunky necklace has fallen off.

Instead, this Valentine’s Day, shop local and small (like one-person small) for jewelry. DIYers cut the mall (and cheap plastic) out of low-price jewelry purchases. You’re also guaranteed one-of-a-kind pieces, sans snot-nosed teen mall employees pushing feather earrings. 

Kumiko Morse, a Craft Sabbath regular, draws on her Japanese heritage for her line of origami earrings, bracelets, rings and more.

Originally from Hiroshima, now living in West Jordan, Morse learned origami as a kid and started selling her work as jewelry four years ago. “Cranes are the most popular,” she says, “and they sell fast, so I feel bad when people ask for cranes and I don’t have any left.”


A sampling of Morse's jewelry includes her popular origami crane. Photo by Adam Finkle

Morse’s workspace is set with washi paper ready to be folded and a Japanese TV show playing on her laptop. She coats her origami in two types of liquid (which she keeps secret) to make the paper hard. “This is my therapy,” says Morse, who also works at a therapeutic preschool for children who have behavior and emotional issues. “This is what I do to relax and be in my own world.”

And if her break from reality doesn’t result in what you like, she’ll make it.  “When I get custom orders, I want to make what my customers want, and I want to make sure they are paying for what they really like,” Morse says. “A lot of sellers have their customers pay right when they order, but I don’t make my customers pay until they see photos of the finished products. If they want to cancel the order after I make stuff, I don’t mind.”

Find Morse’s work at etsy.com/shop/KumikosOrigami.

More Local Craft Jewelry

PeachTreats

Widening the holes in your ears has somehow caught on. Fill the gap with a stunning piece from PeachTreats, which makes earrings specifically for gages. etsy.com/shop/PeachTreats

Asana Natural Arts

Butterflies flaunt some of nature’s finest artwork, and Zell Lee uses their wings for necklaces, earrings and more. If butterflies aren’t your thing, she’s also been known to use beetle wings, four leaf clovers and porcupine quills. Unlike many other handcrafters, she has a brick-and-mortar shop. 907 E. 7905 South, Sandy, asananaturalarts.com

Oh My Good

Aubri Pearson sells jewelry that will be the talk of your next dinner, like this necklace, which she upcycled from two antique necklaces. etsy.com/shop/ohmygood

Back>>>Click here for more stories from our Jan/Feb 2015 issue.