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How To Do Origami

Learning how to do origami is a great hobby because it requires very few supplies and boasts a wide range of difficulty levels. This means that it is simple for someone who is a novice to gain experience and still have room to grow even after they have mastered many folding styles and projects.

Origami is an ancient paper folding art that has been practiced for thousands of years. It actually began in China, but migrated to Japan. Paper was not readily available to everyone at the time, so only the wealthy made origami. Japanese origami’s most famous piece is the crane, sacred to those in Japan. Today, origami can be less like Japanese origami, in that unique paper and shapes make the project more contemporary rather than traditional.

The History Of Origami

How To Do OrigamiOrigami started out as a Chinese paper-folding art in the first or second century. As a rare commodity, paper folding was only for the rich. The Japanese took the art of origami and evolved the craft by using it for gift giving. Paper might have been folded with a strip of dried fish or meat. It was considered a good luck token. Also, the Shinto Noblemen would celebrate weddings by wrapping glasses of sake or rice wine in butterfly forms that had been folded to represent the bride and groom.

For centuries there were no written directions for how to do origami or folding origami models. The directions were taught to each generation and then handed down to the next. This form of art became part of the cultural heritage of the Japanese people. In 1797, How to Fold 1000 Cranes was published. This book contained the first written set of origami instructions, which told how to do origami – specifically, how to fold a crane.

The crane was considered a sacred bird in Japan. It was a Japanese custom that if a person folded 1,000 cranes, they would be granted one wish. Origami became a very popular form of art as shown by the well-known Japanese woodblock print that was made in 1819 entitled “A Magician Turns Sheets of Birds.” This print shows birds being created from pieces of paper.

How To Do Origami – Getting Started

Learning how to do origami is easier if you know a few basic terms. A bone folder is similar to a letter opener but with smoother sides, and originally was made from a whale bone. It is used to give the fold a nice crease. Origami squares are the squares of paper used to make the origami. The origami pattern refers to the folding instructions for any given piece.

Origami does not have to be expensive. When beginning, you can avoid buying origami papers by practicing with pieces of scrap paper. Simply cut the scraps to size and away you go! A bone folder can be substituted by using the top side of a thick butter knife. Be sure the top of the knife is smooth, so as not to tear or scuff the paper.

There are discount stores that sell origami papers and pattern books at reduced prices, and many of the larger art store or craft stores have sales. Libraries have origami books available that contain free patterns for how to do origami, which can also be found on many online origami websites. On the other hand, if you purchase premium papers, the cost will certainly rise. Premium papers include most types of handmade, hand printed papers and imported material. If you choose to take a class in origami, there may be an expense involved in that as well.

How To Do Origami

Step One

Pick a project or pattern that you want to complete. Planning can’t begin until you have decided which project you want to focus on so make sure you’ve decided that first. You may want to research several folding instructions for a particular project, since some may be on a more beginner or a more advanced level.

Step Two

Organize the materials you will be using so that they are easily within reach. Be sure you have your chosen project pattern ready so that you can easily read the instructions while you fold the origami squares. If you are cutting your own origami squares, begin by measuring them to size, then cut them out and set them aside. You will then want to organize the tools required for the project. Although most projects don’t need anything more than paper and your hands, some of them might suggest a bone knife, or a ruler.

Step Three

Review the pattern before you begin to fold, so that you are sure you understand the instructions. In origami, there are specific types of folds and instructions as to whether you fold to the left or the right. Reviewing ahead of time helps prevent any mis-folding while working through a project. Take your time and be patient as not all origami projects progress in a logical manner. Some of them even seem to work backwards at times, but hang in there and follow the directions through to the end.

Step Four

After you have completed your first origami project, it’s time to clean up. Many hobbyists store their origami squares by color so that they are easier to find; it is also smart to keep the paper away from moisture and dust at all times. Slide them into large plastic Baggies or plastic tub containers. It’s a good idea to store left over paper scraps in a box as well, in case they are needed for future origami projects.

Tips and Tricks

The following tips and tricks can help you learn how to do origami and get the most out of this beautiful and interesting art form…

  • One tip that anyone learning how to do origami should keep in mind is to keep a clean workspace. It’s very disappointing to begin work on a project, using a special origami paper, only to have dirt, dust, glue or moisture ruin the paper before you have even begun.
  • Be sure to use the correct tools and take good care of them. If you are cutting your own origami squares, keep paper cutters and scissors sharp so the edges of your origami paper are clean and smooth.
  • Another helpful tip includes using a self-healing mat. These mats resist cuts and repair themselves! They also serve as an excellent work surface, as they help hold the papers and prevent them from slipping while you fold them.
  • Have patience with your project. Taking the time to perform each step in the pattern properly will insure a beautiful piece when completed!

Ways to Grow Your Origami Hobby

There are multitudes of origami patterns available, from easy and quick projects to more difficult pieces. Completed origami projects can be given as gifts, or used as decorations for scrapbook pages and note cards. It’s possible to even grow your hobby into a business. Below are a couple of ideas for expanding your origami hobby…

  • Once you learn how to do easier projects, making sure each piece is properly folded and aligned, it’s easy to move on to a more detailed origami piece. There are many ideas and patterns available online.
  • For the more adventurous and skilled, there are large-scale origami projects, such as folded paper lampshades, that offer a challenge to the artist but result in a beautiful and useful item.
  • You can teach others how to do origami, or you can sell your creations at craft fairs and farmer’s markets

Related Origami Resources

Origami.com – this site has tons of examples of how to fold various origami projects.

Origami-Instructions.com – this site features even more great examples of how to fold origami and outlines a great range of papers and techniques.

Origami-Club.com – great resources for categories and styles of origami.

Related YouTube Videos

Check out the following videos to learn even more about starting this hobby.