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Getting started with Origami

Updated on March 15, 2011
Some Origami Figures and Paper
Some Origami Figures and Paper

Very easy hobby to start!

The art of Origami is often considered to be Japanese and while the word itself is Japanese for "to fold paper" the actual art of paper folding originates well before the Japanese refined it.  It is believed by some that the ancient Egyptians started the art of paper folding by using papyrus and it is known that the chinese invented paper and the art of paper folding.

But when we think of origami we think of the japanese style and for good reason. The japanese raised it to the status of art form that it now holds and this is mostly due to Akira Yoshizawa who raised it from obscurity beginning in the 1950's.

Regardless of where and how it started it is now a vibrant art form and a wonderful pursuit that can be had with just a simple square of paper.

Some Quick Rules

You can do anything you want with a piece of paper. You can fold it into any kind of a shape and technically you can call it origami. But if you want to do it in a traditional way you should follow these two simple rules: Start with a square of paper and never cut the paper!

That's it!

The beauty is also in the paper

 As a beginner you are anxious to start making beautiful litle creatures, flowers, and other things out of paper. And this is terrific but you might also want to consider the paper. It makes a big difference in the final result.

Regular printer paper or notebook paper is very adequate for making basic origami figures and shapes but if you want to make something really special you should get some paper that is made specifically for origami.

About the Paper

Typical paper for origami is thinner than printer paper. This makes it much easier to fold and makes it a lot easier to get multiple folds out of. Once you start making intermediate figures and shapes you will have difficulty with printer paper. The thinner origami paper will take folding much better.

And, Origami paper comes in a wide variety of colors and patterns which makes the end result much more attractive.

Real Paper!

And, the best origami paper is made from the fibers of various plants. It has a luxurious feel and is a bit thicker than normal paper. If you are looking for the best paper you should look at something called Washi Paper. This is handmade from the bark of japanese trees and shrubs.


There are also names for styles of patterns in the paper. Yuzen paper had textile patterns on it and Chiyogami had repeating wood block patterns.

Shinwazome Paper - This is thick textured that has embossed and raised patterns. It is paper that is often described as luxurioius and it often is embossed and detailed with gold highlights.

Let's start with an Origami Bird

 The video shows you step by step how to fold an attractive origami bird. This is an excellent fold for a beginner because it is only modestly challenging but it comes out great and you can stand it up when done. With this project you will learn some of the basic folds of origami like the mountain fold and the reverse fold.

The Origami Bird

Let's try something a bit more challenging

Moving Origami

This is a very popular branch of origami and the basic concept is that the final product that you make moves in some way. Often times these project vary from the basic rules of one sheet of paper that is square and has not cuts in it. But there are some terrific folds you can make that stay within the rules. The Origami flapping bird is a good example of this.

The following video tutorial shows you how to make an origami flapping bird. And all you need is a square of paper.

Once it is complete you pull on the tail and the head and the wings flap.

Make the Flapping Bird

Getting Creative

Once you have learned a few basic origami folds you have a good idea of the basics and from here you can expand out and try your own folds. It can be a challenge but have fun with it.

And one of the secrets to origam is to start with the base of something and transform it into something else. You can start making one of the birds in the tutorials above and half way through the process try varying your folds to make something totally different.



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