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Cut paper artist Teri Suzanne: ‘a pair of scissors is the superhero of utensils’

by

Staff Writer

Name: Teri Suzanne
Age: 68
Nationality: American
Occupation: Bilingual art/edutainment/fine motor educator, cut paper artist


1. When you think of Japan you think of … Mount Fuji, ofuro (baths), safety, the smell of tatami, shoji, shinkansen, hanabi (fireworks), exceptional food, washi (paper), wind chimes, cicadas, rice fields.

2. What’s your favorite Japanese word or phrase?Otsukaresama” (“Thank you for your hard work”). Whatever time you finish work, it’s a warm and considerate phrase to say to co-workers and staff.

3. What’s your favorite phrase in any language? A phrase from “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupery: “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” Discrimination and stereotypes blind our vision; our hearts, if we listen and feel, have the ability to “see” what really matters.

4. Any likes/dislikes? I like Japan, long walks on beaches, creating, watching kids create and scissors. I dislike raw tomatoes, snakes, discrimination and child abuse.

5. You once worked in TV, voice, stage and commercials in Japan. Is there anything from those times some of our readers might remember? Hopefully, they remember the Bilingual Family Theater and Family Disco productions I created and produced at the National Children’s Castle’s Aoyama Round Theater for 15 years.

6. You are well respected as an educator and consultant in Japan. What was your proudest moment in either of these roles? I was once named creative consultant for Japan’s first children’s floor total renewal project at Nihonbashi Takashimaya Department Store. It was an imagination vs. architectural challenge.

7. You have developed a paper-cutting method that enhances a child’s motor coordination while also developing creative thinking and problem-solving skills. Why scissors? We think with our hands. A pair of scissors is the superhero of utensils, a “cut above fine motor genius” that helps kids to focus, create and hone bilateral coordination skills.

8. At what age did you first become fascinated with scissors? I was 3. I loved sitting on the floor, making things, cutting out castles, kings and queens.

9. What can young children primarily learn from using scissors? Creative osmosis: using scissors and their hands, kids can learn basic pre-K skills, even math, language and literacy. As kids cut, they focus, think, learn, remember and experience creative freedom.

10. What is the most intricate thing you’ve ever seen created with a pair of scissors? Lifelike 3-D animal sculptures by Calvin Nicolls (Canada), exquisite psaligraphy by Karen Bit Vejle (Denmark), sensitive creations by Hina Aoyama (Japan).

9. What is the inspiration behind the name Terigami? Origami means to fold paper. Kirigami means to cut paper. Terigami, therefore, refers to a unique cut paper art/edutainment/fine motor system that uses no lines or templates, and combines tearing, folding, gluing and freehand scissor-cutting technology.

10. Does part of the Terigami course involve safety? Terigami’s scissor education includes scissor selection, proper holding, usage, cleaning, storage and right- and left-handedness.

12. What is your own favorite model/style of scissors? I love my 37-year-old, large, lightweight left/right scissors with worn down blades made by Meity.

13. Name three uses for a pair of scissors that don’t involve cutting paper. There are scissors for cutting quail eggs, bonsai and fabric. On a TV special, I held huge gold-plated ceremonial pair of scissors used to cut topknots of retiring sumo wrestlers. By the way, kids’ scissors are for paper — not clay, straws or string!

14. What’s the most exciting/outrageous thing you have ever done? Climb the Sydney Harbor Bridge — 134 meters above sea level — with my daughters.

15. What’s the strangest request you’ve ever been asked in your line of work? I hid in a chilly gondola that was elevated several stories high. As Mrs. Santa at Takamatsu’s Dream Illumination, amid musical fanfare, fireworks and smoke, I popped up and waved to 10,000 onlookers below. It was a giggly joyful adventure.

16. If you could have dinner with anyone from history, who would it be? Santa Claus. I want to ask his views on parenting, education and how we make the world a kinder place.

17. What song best describes your work ethic? Elvis Presley’s “I Believe,” which includes the lyrics, “I believe that somewhere in the darkest night, a candle glows.” Collectively, we must be the “glowing candle,” and believe, protect and preserve what we hold dear.

18. What do you want to be when you grow up? I want Kermit the Frog to invite me on to “Sesame Street.” I’d cut numbers for the Count, cookies for Cookie Monster, letters for Big Bird and a surprise for Elmo.

19. Do you have any words of advice for young people? Save and use money wisely. Show kindness in whatever you do. Integrity and trust are more valuable than gold. Respect differences. If we were all the same, life would be boring.

For more information on Teri Suzanne, visit www.terigami.com.