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Origami Units

Updated on September 15, 2014

Unit Origami

Unit Origami is a favorite set of folds for me. Based in Mathematics, unit origami is precise and logical. Tomoko Fuse is a great creator of many wonderful Origami units.

Her book Unit Origami was the first one I ever purchased. I have taught some of these forms to Jr. High school students and they have enjoyed them.

In some cases you can create something as small as a three-unit piece, and up to many-multiple units. The model pictured here is the Sonobe Star. Oh, and she is my favorite!!

Origami multiples

The nice thing about the unit origami is that with the repetition of building each of the parts, you can actually get very good at building. Sometimes it's the unit origami that gets memorized. Really, after folding 25 of one thing, you might remember it after a while. Generally the folds for each bit are quite simple.

My art teacher said that after making 99 mug handles, you will finally get it right. Good thing that origami is not so picky.

Faceted Octahedron - by Denver Lawson

This is a unit I just learned, and it is made up of 6 fortune tellers (you know those things we made when we were kids and you chose colors and numbers?) There are a few tricks to it, but it makes a very sturdy and interesting piece.

Tips: Each fortune teller is made with two pieces of paper sandwiched together. This helps it lock in place. The inside piece of paper does not show, so you can use yucky stuff, but one way to make the edges really crisp is to crop that inner sheet just a bit smaller than your design paper.

Little Turtle - by Tomoko Fuse

This unit is made by putting together several "turtles". I've taught this one to many students. Each part is easy to make, and once you've folded a few they start to fly from your fingertips. The model shown here is a 12 unit, or you can go big and do the 24 unit. This series you can do a small 4 unit piece, but it's not my favorite.

I like to use a heavier paper on these models, it just makes them that more solid. The one shown here is paper that I decorated with a paste paint. (and that's another fun project for another fun web-page)

Decorative Cubes - by Lewis Simon

With this one you start with the standard square sheet of origami paper, and then it becomes "ribbons" that are put together. Many people will do this model and then link several units together to create a chain of them.

Trying to Figure this One Out

Unfortunately I don't know who designed this one, and I didn't even fold it. A friend of mine gave it to me and I don't have the heart to take it apart to figure it out. But this is a good example of using some different paper to fold with.

If anyone knows who's fold this is, please let me know so I can give credit where credit is due. I will keep looking through my vast library of books in hopes to find it.

Cuboctahedron - by Tomoko Fuse

This form is what Tomoko calls "intermediary stage". From this form you can create expanded models. One of those is illustrated below, and other forms include:

Compound Cube and Regular Octahedron

Truncated Octahedron

Regular Octahedron

All quite a mouth full I say. Mixing plain colored paper with vibrant patterns make these models look playful and fun.

Cuboctahedron and Cube - by Tomoko Fuse

One of the variations of the intermediary Cuboctahedron.

This is amazingly solid done with origami paper...although this one pictured here has probably seen it's day. Many of the models I show in my blogs have traveled with me for years as I exhibit in schools. I will likely be updating these pictures soon so that I can show some nicer samples.

Octagonal Star - by Tomoko Fuse

This one takes many units and is very delicate, but I quite like it too. 26 pieces in this one. I made this one, and a teeny weeny one too...

Unit or Modular Origami Books

Here are some of the great books available to learn this great craft. My favorite of course is Tomoko Fuse "Unit Origami".

My Other Origami Sites

If you like the unit origami, try some of these other sites.

Now that you've taken a look at some of the different units you can construct in origami, please let me know what you think. I will keep updating this lens with new creations as I come across them.


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    • profile image


      4 years ago

      I can say that your unknown one is probably made with sonobe units.

      It's a 12 piece construction, and the shape is a Stellated Octohedron

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Awesome lens! I want to make the Cuboctahedron! I need to learn the basics and practice first! :D

    • aerome profile image


      8 years ago

      Very interesting and nice pictures. I've lensrolled this to my 'Modular Origami' lens ; -)

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I like these units and this lens, very nice work.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I've just gotten into doing origami. I've done a few multi-unit ones, but there are always more to do! :)


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