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How to make Origami Balls - Step-by-step Guide
Origami - Fold Paper Balls
This web page will teach you how to craft several different types of balls out of folded paper using different origami techniques. I put the paper balls order of relative difficulty level.
Each level will also have links to related sites and recommended reading if you want to make things other than balls.
We are going to learn to make the following paper balls:
- Inflatable paper ball - waterbomb base EASY
- Spike ball - modular kusudama MODERATE
- Magic expanding ball/wheel - wizardry HARD
Basic foldsClick thumbnail to view full-size
Basic Origami Folds
Just so we're clear, these are some of the basic folds you'll want to be able to do before you can tackle even the easiest of the paper balls.
You need to start off with a square piece of paper. If all you have is 8.5 inch by 11 inch paper, you can fold it and cut it down. Take the top of the paper and fold it inward so that the top is flush against the left side of the page. This makes a square composed of two right triangles and an extra rectangular wedge at the bottom. Cut that wedge off and you've got a square: the basic building block in origami!
Valley Fold: When people talk about folds the direction matters. A valley fold forms a valley (the space between two mountains) by making two ends of your square join above the fold like in the diagram to the right.
Mountain Fold: The mountain fold is going to be the opposite orientation of a valley fold. It's an upside down valley fold. This doesn't matter with just one fold by itself, but it becomes very important later on because the orientation of the folds in relation to each other will completely determine the overall shape and resistance of the paper square.
Accordion Pleat: This series of creases is mountain valley mountain valley mountain valley mountain. It shows how the folds start to work together. See how different it would be if you made it valley valley valley as opposed to valley mountain valley?
Blintz Fold: This one requires a little more effort but it's important to a lot of designs. You fold the four corners inward to meet in the middle of a second concentric square. If you're not good with words or geometric descriptions, see the full-sized diagram above by clicking on the small thumbnail all the way to the bottom right underneath the image, and it should make a lot more sense.
Inflatable Waterbomb Paper Ball
Inflatable Origami Waterbomb
This design uses just one square (almost all origami designs use square sheets of paper) and can be inflated at the end of assembly to create a sphereoid box. It's not going to be perfectly round and it's more accurately described as a bulging box than a ball, but it's still a lot of fun.
This ball will have a small opening in the end which makes it perfect to use as a paper lantern (3 to 5 inch squares can be made to fit snugly over a set of Christmas lights, or you can make a huge ball and put an entire small string of lights into it as long as the paper is thick enough to resist catching on fire).
You can also make these into crafty water balloons. You can even fill these paper bombs with substances that are hard to put into a balloon like shaving cream, toothpaste or egg goo (eww). Normally you wouldn't have the pressure it takes to inflate a balloon slightly while putting toothpaste into it. But you can fill this paper ball with anything gooey and icky and bombs away!
Description of the waterbomb origami ball
The waterbomb base method for making an origami ball is just a little more complicated than the traditional origami bases (e.g. kite, frog, bird, fish) You'll probably be able to do it just by watching the video above and copying.
If you're into words over images though, this is a verbal description of how to fold the square of paper into a ball. You have to fold 2 perpendicular valley folds down the diagonals of your square. Then fold 2 perpendicular mountain folds across the middle of the square.
These creases can be compressed through the squash fold. You'll have an isosceles-right triangle (a triangle with a 90 degree angle and three sides of different lengths). with four isosceles-right triangular flaps.
Beginners Origami Guides
- How to Origami for Beginners
This is a great site with a nice bubbly aesthetic and some good ideas for people just beginning with origami. They've got a gallery, how to guides and much more.
Assembling the Paper Spike Ball without Glue
Modular Origami Kusudama with Glue
This kind of ball takes more patience because it is constructed from MANY folded squares. Each square is folded into a similar shape that fits in with the other squares to form a geodesic sphere or ball.
Some people use glue. Even though that's kind of cheating, a lot of people just care what the finished product looks like so you can make your own decision. The modular kusudama without glue make each piece to have pockets and tabs. That way the tabs fit into the pockets of adjacent pieces so everything can be very snug and tightly fit.
Advanced origami links
- Math of Paperfolding
This wikipedia article details some of the mathematical concepts that go into folding paper. These notions are especially important with modular folding because it's so dependent on tesselations and symmetry.
- Geometric folding algorhithms
More on the geometry and math of folding paper. This website has some cool errata from a book that details all the different ways to find symmetry, links and whatnot in paper designs.
Magic paper ball
These are designs that simply exceed my capacity as a paperfolder or or even understanding of the laws of physics. I've included some video links but I have never been able to make these successful. Good luck. You'll need it unless you're some kind of wizard or paper god.
How to make the magic ball
- How to make the magic ball
You might be able to decode some mystic paper folding secrets from this forum as others have claimed they found diagrams or English instructions tucked away here
Other crafty paper links
- Paper roses - How To
This isn't strictly origami, but it's a beautiful paper craft guide to making a rose out of paper.
- Folding Paper
This is another hub that looks at the art of origami and paper-folding. It's got instructions for the basics like paper airplanes and some of the cooler traditional base designs like frog base, kite base, etc.
- Complicated Geodesic Ball
This is a flicker photo of a really complicated ball design. If you ever get really ambitious, you can make a ball composed of tons of papers that form triangular faces like the Epcot dome.
Origami clubs and organizations
- British origami society
This is a group of people based out of the United Kingdom who are all about folding paper, but they have members around the world who check up on and contribute to the ever-expanding galleries.
- Origami USA
This is the largest group of folders in the United States. They are a great place to get new ideas based on what's happening in the world of origami today.
- Origami Forum
This is a sweet forum where people are very willing to share advice and they'll keep helping until you figure it out and send them picture proof! Good place to go once you've mastered the top part of this site.