Michael Shall is a paperpusher. And a paperfolder. For more than 25 years he's been busily folding everything -- dollar bills, sheets of sandpaper and even extra-heavy, double-thick brown wrapping paper -- and teaching the ancient art of origami.
When Shall was 10, he folded a perfect strawberry, and got it right the first time. He approaches his work with the enthusiasm of the missionary. He says origami can set you free.
"Fold till you drop" is his motto. Dinosaurs, angels, cranes, flowers, lobsters, the Statue of Liberty, a 15-foot Christmas tree. Would you believe he folds a mean Richard Nixon? "If you can dream it," he says, "you can fold it."
Origami comes from the Japanese "ori," meaning "to fold," and "kami," meaning "paper." Says Shall, "The language of origami is based on the concept of mountains and valleys, which are the only two ways a piece of paper can be folded."
Can you cheat? Shall doesn't. "No scissors, no glue," he insists. "I'm pretty much a purist," though he will occasionally use tools rather than fingers on especially difficult paper.
Shall will be in Washington tomorrow for an origami holiday workshop at the Meridian House International, 1630 Crescent Place NW, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Reservations are on a first-come basis, and the price is $30. Participants should bring a bag lunch (coffee and soft drinks will be served). For information, call 667-6800.