Jo-Ann McBride makes money out of a little bit of money.
The 62-year-old Mount Vernon resident knows how to fold and twist dollar bills into all sorts of shapes: elephants, frogs, roses, hearts and animal figures. Her most challenging figure was a giraffe, but she figured it out. But McBride wanted to do more than just make interesting objects out of origami folds.
“I learned by trying and mimicking the folds shown on the Internet but I modified them,” McBride said.
Until five years ago McBride had always sent cards to her mother-in-law on birthdays or Mothers Day and included dollar bills with the cards. McBride wanted to find a more interesting and fun way to send money. She looked up “money” and the Internet and found a $20 bill in the shape of a heart. But McBride’s mother-in-law didn’t want to unfold it. So McBride sent her a heart made out of a one dollar bill which was never unfolded and spent.
Now McBride makes hearts or stars out of dollar bills, and sometimes a quarter is tucked within the fold. McBride’s repertoire of folds includes a shirt with tie, an elephant, a dress.
McBride was once a computer programmer and is now a dedicated crafter. And her craft is labor intensive.
“I have about 55 unique folded shapes including a lot of hearts, which take the longest to do. But it is fun,” says McBride. “At first the heart took me two hours, 40 minutes to make, with 41 folds. Now I have it down to 22 minutes.”
Other crafters may crochet or quilt. McBride folds.
Whenever she is sitting down and she has a few minutes, her nimble fingers are folding and creating unique gifts.
McBride almost always uses the one dollar bill because people are reluctant to unfold and spend the dollar and prefer just to enjoy the gift as it was received. Gifts made out of 10- or 20-dollar bills are unfolded and spent. She uses dollar bills because they are made of fabric as well as paper, which is why you can wash dollar bills and they stay intact.
“After folding the dollar bill, I iron it, then put it in a book while it is still warm. Then I put a weight on the book, to press it. Often I’ll include a quarter in the folded shape. When I watched the video demonstration, I kept thinking of other ways to fold. It’s just a matter of having a little bit of a twisted mind,” McBride said with a chuckle.
She calls her little plastic gift bags “Gift with a Twist” and always includes a poem. Her poems are happy, uplifting thoughts that bring a smile. For the past three years McBride has participated in local craft fairs.
McBride says she’s not in this for the money. So why does she do it?
“Doing this has many benefits. It keeps me sane. And I love it when people look at the small things I make and say WOW. When I’m folding, I can still watch television and not feel guilty because my fingers are busy.”
Then McBride adds, with a smile, “I consider it a dietary aid, because while I’m folding, I can’t eat. I can’t even snack. In a couple more years, I’ll lose 70 pounds.”