Ever created something out of nothing more than a simple sheet of paper? How about a plane or a crane? Maybe something even more impressive…
Origami has been around for centuries and can still be seen all around us. Everything from Christmas decorations to cute flower and tulip arrangements can be made from paper.
Our tutorials include simple diagrams, step-by-step instructions, video aids, and more to make this joyful, meditative practice easier for experienced practitioners, beginners, and even kids to follow.
Origami.org is your one-stop-shop for origami tutorials, common questions, new ideas, and everything you want to know about this historic practice. If you want to learn how to transform folding paper into a genuine art form, you’re in the right place!
What Is Origami?
Origami is the Japanese art of folding paper. It literally translates as “ori” (folding) and “kami” (paper).
Sounds simple enough, right? Sometimes, but there’s a whole world to explore. Enthusiasts know the potential of this craft is far from paper thin. For enthusiasts everywhere, the ancient, fascinating art of folding paper is more than first meets the eye.
With a long history of talented experts making inventive folded objects and constant innovations, the field has brought some truly breathtaking wonders to life – our website is the perfect place to learn about it.
Types of Origami
Origami’s long history has naturally led to several branches developing. It began as a ceremonial offering and continues today as a hobby for children and those who enjoy accessible crafts. It is regarded as an incredible fine art and can be extremely useful when you need to decorate or make a sincere gift.
Beginners and Kids
Many shapes are very easy to learn. This can help introduce mathematical concepts to kids and help beginners learn how to create interesting and impressive sculptures.
Original origami was traditionally done as an offering for ceremonial purposes. This style is called origata. It continues to be incorporated into certain Japanese religious ceremonies.
Today, paper folding has established a global following and is consistently showing new levels of creation. The modern practice includes a range of jaw-dropping creations composed of innovative materials and applying groundbreaking techniques.
Miscellaneous and Creative
People don’t need to purchase special paper to use this technique in everyday life. Everything from post-its to gum wrappers and more can be utilized to make amazing folded pieces.
With just two basic folds: the mountain and valley, Pureland is a simpler style for learners than the more challenging types. However, to some, using only these folds poses a greater challenge.
This style is relatively new, emerging in the 1970s to give those with limited motor skills better access to the craft.
A far less formal expression of folding paper is street origami, in which casual items like a dollar bill or a simple wrapper may be used. Chopstick wrappers are a popular option in Japan.
Artists create animals like fish or cranes and other unique forms using whatever paper they have on hand.
Expert and Modular
For those who like a challenge, advanced levels add planes and complexities to construct truly amazing pieces of folded art.
Wet Folding Origami
Wet folding uses stronger paper and incorporates sizing, which gives the paper even greater durability upon drying. Size is the term used for a hardening liquid adhesive used either externally when a piece is finished or much sooner, when it’s pulp.
Wetted paper allows for additional freedom, letting folders create more precise and organic-looking curves. It also retains its form and shape better, which comes in handy with especially delicate elements of a model.
Still shapes made from folded paper are stunning on their own, but action origami brings motion to the models. Parts of a paper animal may extend or retract, for example, as if wings are flapping or limbs are flexing.
When many identically folded paper sheets are joined together in a larger model, it’s called modular origami. The smaller pieces don’t need to be complex – the execution of the full article is the real challenge.
A major distinction with this type of paper folding is that glue or thread is typically used to keep the pieces together.
Tessellation is a newer form, where paper pieces are linked together using twist folds, applying a repeated pattern. Some influential names in this expressive form of folding are Shuzo Fujimoto and Ron Resch, each of whom have explored these unique linking fold patterns to discover their potential.
This modern branch is rapidly growing in popularity and its practitioners sometimes use computer programs and internet-based technology to generate fold patterns and project results.
Famous Origami Artists
People have long enjoyed or heard about paper figures and animals. Designing a paper plane, elephant, or crane is straightforward and produces gorgeous results. The legend of the paper crane is especially iconic.
It’s believed to bring good luck and guide the departed to the afterlife. According to tradition, if someone folds 1,000 cranes, they will be granted one wish.
The tale of the origami crane comes from a young girl who died of leukemia in the 1950s following the Hiroshima bombing. Her goal was to complete the task and use her wish to cure herself. She wasn’t able to finish, but her memorial is now the site of thousands of paper crane wreaths, and her story provides hope for healing and peace in Japanese culture and beyond.
A major contributor to the widespread accessibility of origami was Akira Yoshizawa, the “Grandmaster of Origami.” Yoshizawa pioneered wet folding and aided in the standardization of paper folding patterns, utilizing dashed and dotted lines to show the types of folds and arrows to indicate flips and steps.
Robert J. Lang is another accomplished paper-folding expert. He has used this amazing technique to create an array of inspired works. Lang is an origami artist and mathematician known for creating incredibly lifelike folded form exhibitions.
His ideas are notably influenced by both scientific and artistic inspirations, and his origami models of certain forms and figures have even been used to advance folding panels on structures in space.
History of Origami
Initially named “orikata,” meaning “folded shapes,” paper folding traditionally hails from Japan. However, its roots lie even further back.
Before it arrived in Japan about 2,000 years ago, a similar practice first started in China as a ceremonial tradition. While the Japanese practice remains the most famous today, this knowledge spread down the Silk Road to the Arabic world and eventually to Europe, where it gained traction in Italy and later Germany, amongst other countries.
By 1880, in Japan, the name was changed to “origami,” meaning “folded paper.” In the West, the modern style consists of a blend between traditional and German styles.
Benefits of Origami
Folding paper is calming and has positive historical associations. It’s decorative and readily available and is a thoughtful gift to make for a friend. With just a square, people can elevate an image to a whole other plane.
Helps Kids Learn
Educational paper folding has existed for a very long time. It’s especially applicable to geometry lessons, but also aids with brain development during early childhood. Folded paper practice helps kids to exercise important cognitive centers for motor skill refinement.
Moreover, paper folding can support understanding more complex concepts, including problem solving, error correction, and visualization. Following origami diagrams and guides is great practice for kids to imagine the outcome of a project.
Reduce Anxiety in Adults
Many find origami to be an excellent mindfulness practice. Mindfulness has many positive impacts on the mind and body. Creating ideas from a square sheet helps countless adults feel less stressed.
Origami projects have been helping people for thousands of years. It’s a quiet, calming activity that encourages patience. Best of all, some folds can be learned in under an hour!
Origami Instructions and Tips
Usually, instructions use simple diagrams and easy-to-follow steps. Origami paper is recommended for the best results when following an origami tutorial. However, regular paper will do in a pinch.
Most people are surprised at the awesome shapes that can be made with just paper, no scissors, tape, or glue needed.
Even though regular copier sheets are frequently used, especially with kids, there is a special type of paper that works best. Lightweight, white-on-one-side origami paper comes in various sizes. Foil-backed sheets are also a popular option.
The Japanese name for traditional origami textile material is washi. It’s made from natural bark fibers and is tougher than alternatives. In Japan, a variety of artisan folding papers exist to this day.
Many find that using the proper materials makes the practice much more gratifying. Kami squares are the cheapest, most accessible paper sheets available today.
Kami is a great option for kids and beginners to get started with origami practice.
Origami artists also use bone folders to enhance the sharpness of the creases in a project. Tweezers and rulers can also be used. Materials are constantly evolving as artists continue to innovate.
Even though origami has existed for many years, today’s standards and patterns are less than a century old. Using a key and origami instructions, all ranges from beginner to expert can discover the ins and outs of this simple, beautiful craft.
Easy origami animals are especially popular for beginners. Most of them use a specified base, such as the square base or bird base.
Several basic folds are used in creating origami figures and animals. For example, valley and mountain folds are opposite versions of the same fold.
Valley and Mountain Folds
Valley means you fold paper towards you, and it’s denoted using dashed lines. Mountain folds are made away from you and are usually indicated with dots and dashes. Arrows are commonly added as well.
Precreasing, or unfolding a crease to prepare for later maneuvers, is another common technique used in paper folding.
Squash and Base Folds
Another common fold is called the squash. As the name implies, this involves squashing the plane for a compound action fold. Precreases are typically used to execute a squash fold properly.
With just these few basic folds, origami crafters can create a versatile base to build more complex creations.
So many shapes can be made from simple pieces of origami paper. Each project usually has simple origami instructions with a helpful diagram to demonstrate.
From a plane to a swan to an elephant and beyond, a plain square of folding paper has a lot more potential than it seems.
Here are some fun origami model ideas:
- Christmas ornaments
- Hand fan
This list of common origami shape ideas is far from comprehensive, as the awesome projects that can be made are truly limitless.
If you’ve ever been curious to learn origami, you may be delighted at the fun and freedom this art form has to offer – and origami.org is the perfect place to start your journey.
With our simple, step-by-step instructions, anyone from beginners to more advanced folders who seek crafts that are a bit harder can use diagrams to make virtually any picture possible.
Easy origami instructions, guides to materials, models, and diagrams, and background information are all at your fingertips, supported by pictures and first-class easy origami ideas. Soon you’ll learn to fold paper to create the coolest origami figure imaginable!
This hobby requires almost no money to get started, and you can do it anytime, anywhere. Check out our tutorial page for inspiration!
Learn how to make origami animals and models properly at origami.org. What are you waiting for? Transform an idea into a stunning 3D artwork with our superb resources and helpful community!
Frequently Asked Questions
What does the word origami mean?
Origami can be broken down into two parts: “oru,” meaning “to fold,” and “kami,” meaning “paper.”
What are 3 types of origami?
Three major types of origami are single sheet, action, and modular.
What are 5 basic origami folds?
Five basic folds in origami are: mountain, valley, squash, pleat, and rabbit ear.