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Lewis Winchell Biebigheiser & Origami

Z6----2 DAYTON DAILY NEWS May 10-11, 1982
Your Neighborhood

   Area man has designs on origami

      Eight years ago Lew Biebigheiser’s fingers danced over linotype keys at the Dayton Typographic Service.
       Today , the same fingers of the Dayton resident make origami , which are Japanese folded paper designs.
         “ Origami originated in Japan around 56-60 A.D.” Biebigheiser, of 828 Meredith St. said. “ I got
interested when, as a linotyper, I was setting type on a story about a Japanese fellow who folded paper. I
became interested in it and looked up information on origami. It is considered an art form.
           “But I had trouble getting the information. Finally, a five minute walk from here, I found a book shop
which sells both origami paper and books ( on the subject.)”

        BIEBIGHEISER, ( who’s known as “Papa-Lew” to grand-children and friends) does most of his work on
the kitchen table in the house he shares with his wife ,Mary.
         On his dining room table there was a stork with flapping wings. He had a black and white penguin and
a black and white dressed nun. He had dogs, two Japanese flowers resembling tulips ( “it took me two months
to master the fold on these flowers”) and small flowers, as well as small objects which could be used as nut
cups ---all folded by hand.
        “The paper I buy especially for origami is supposed to be square but often it isn’t, and I have to trim it,”
Biebigheiser said. “I always carry scissors around with me. But I never use scissors or paste in my work. It’s all
         One reason “Papa Lew” may be so dexterous is because he is a former magician.
 “But I had to stop magic shows 20 years ago, because of arthistis in my hands,” he said.
          Biebigheiser does sell some of his creations and has given demonstrations for many groups. Recently
has was at the Farmersville Elementary School Art Circus.

         “THE YOUNGSTERS WERE really interested,” he said. For awhile, he did origami in the Harmony
House, a neighborhood house which was started after the Dayton riots of the 1960’s.
          “I was asked to show some retarted people how to fold paper. They weren’t allowed to use scissors or
anything. They did very well,” he said.
            And origami, Biebigheiser said, takes patience.
           “I found that out when I demonstrated it to a nursery school. I had the children making coasters. I
thought the children were much older, they did so well, and was amazed when the director told me the
children were two-years olds,” he said.
           “Making something from origami takes “from two minutes, such as a bud to three hours.”
     The three -hour project was a two masted, full-rigged sailing ship, which Biebigheiser said he did “to see if
I could do it. But I didn’t do it quite to my  satisfaction.” 
            The Biebigheisers often eat at the Metro Gardens Senior Citizen Center  “and I fold a lot while I’m
waiting for service. Then I don’t notice whether it’s slow or not,” he said with a laugh.

      BIEBIGHEISER ADMITS that two animals defeat him-- a horse and a cat. But one time on WKEF-TV,
while the station was still affiliated with ABC, he was demonstrating his craft and he made a peacock---the
symbol of a rival network NBC, with which WKEF is now affiliated.
      I must have been psychic,” he said.
      A native of New York City, Biebigheiser was reared in Morristown, N.J. He graduated from high school
in 1932.
     “There was no way for me to go to college, though I wanted to. I hitchhiked around the country----went
to the Chicago World’s Fair. I lived for a month in Montreal, working in a restaurant for a Scot who spoke
only French,” he said. he also worked on a newspaper in Winston-Salem, N.C.  for nine years before coming
to Dayton in 1956.
      Biebigheiser has two children from a previous marriage, as does his wife, and they have two children of
their own, plus 13 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren “scattered all over the United States,”
Biebigheiser said.
      “I spent two weeks with one of our children and spent a lot of time showing one of my granddaughters
origami. She said it helped her a lot when it came to trigonometry.”-----
By Ellen Hawk, Dayton News special writer.