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Christine Kirk

Most people pay no mind to pieces of office paper, unless the printer gets jammed.

But Christine Kirk sees a potential masterpiece in every sheet.

On a Tuesday in early 2010, she sat at the desk in her Spring Garden Township home studio. A stack of computer paper - other types are too thick for multiple folds - glue and tape is all she needed to create paper designs similar to those that hung on her walls. Like many crafters, Kirk already had her most important tools - her hands and her creativity.

As she talked, she absentmindedly picked up a sheet and started carefully creasing it to create a pointed corner.

Kirk said creating art out of paper was what she always wanted to do.

During winters growing up in New Jersey, she made piles of paper snowflakes.

She loved art classes and was accepted to the Parsons School of Design, where she studied to become a graphic artist.

She landed a job at Family Circle Magazine in the mid-'80s and after her two children were born, continued to freelance, designing newsletters, pamphlets, logos and book covers. But that wasn't her dream job.

As she played with the scraps from her projects, paper sculptures began to line her walls. She showed her work at a few craft shows and lent some pieces to New Jersey galleries. She dreamed about turning her hobby into a career.

Then, a decade ago, Kirk became pregnant with her third child, and the family moved to York County after her husband, Bill, accepted a job. Her paper art was once again put on the back burner.

Now that her youngest is in school all day and her two older children are in college, Kirk considered another graphic design job. However, she knew it would take her a while to learn all of the new technology. So she decided to follow the dream she had shelved.

"It was now or never," she said.

In the summer of 2009, she created her own business, Paper Meditations. She said the name reflects the Japanese tradition of paper design. Her sculptures use multiple sheets, so it doesn't qualify as origami. Instead, she incorporates some elements of kirigami - cut paper art - into her designs.

Kirk has made other people think about paper with her folded geometric designs.

Pieces she made for family and friends are getting attention. Aaron Chan didn't know Kirk, but he shared a mutual friend who displayed one of her pieces.

Chan, who owns Mitsuru-Ya Japanese Restaurant in York Township, was looking for art to cover his newly renovated walls. He thought Kirk's sculptures were perfect.

"It's colorful and modern," he said. Kirk designed three neon and black pieces for Chan's business.

She said she likes the meticulousness of the work and, luckily, her medium is easily available. Preliminary designs can take her minutes to create, while finished pieces can take days. She said she doesn't really get paper cuts anymore thanks to the calluses on her fingertips.

Lighting her pieces is important because depending on the angle, they can appear flat or three-dimensional.

"It's all about shadows and shapes," she said.

Kirk hopes to show her work in some Philadelphia galleries soon, but right now, she's enjoying being her own boss.

"It's very freeing not to have anyone looking over my shoulder," she said.