What is Origami?

Origami is the folding of paper into a beautiful 3D sculpture. In fact, by the end of this, you will be making something yourself! Your beautiful creation can then either be used as a decoration, a toy or a container. But origami isn’t just therapeutic or artistic, in fact, it can also improve fine motor skills, brain development as well as logical, mathematical and technological thinking skills. Engineers sometimes use origami in their projects. So, origami is definitely for everyone!

After doing some research (which you should do too), it seems that this craft took the world by storm. It is a craft well over 2000 years old, although this can’t be proven because paper does deteriorate over time. In the past, traditional origami was made for ceremonial and symbolic purposes in the Chinese and Japanese culture. But the Japanese culture soon welcomed the art of paper folding in more practical forms such as screens, mats, umbrellas, etc. Korea also had some play in origami and they even have a game which uses origami discs. Back in Europe, they were into napkin folding, which showed the nobility of a house until porcelain was made. Luckily, many of the concepts and techniques that shaped the napkin folds were stored in Fröbel’s Kindergarten system, which shapes origami today. Friedrich Fröbel was the German who invented this system which states that you use two-sided paper and no cutting, sticking or marking was allowed on the origami. 

This art has many names, just like the brinjal or the eggplant, or is it aubergine? Anyway, it was formerly known as orikata (folded shapes), but the Japanese seemed to consider origami to be more sacred than that. When ori (to fold) and kami (paper) are together, gami (God) replaces kami and the word origami is formed. But this art has many names in other languages, such as Jong-I Jeobgi (Korea) or Papiroflexia / Pajarita (Spain).

Types of Origami

There are many types of origami. Here are a few:

MODERN ORIGAMI: I made up this term for all those animals / people / chairs / toys that you always see and think “Oh! That’s definitely origami.” This is considered to be true origami. This is the modern origami that uses no cuts and no glue.

PURELAND ORIGAMI: Developed by John Smith in the 1970’s, this is origami where only simple folds with obvious destinations are used. These help with the inexperienced and those with limited motor skills. This is the easier version of iconic origami.

STRIP FOLDING: This is a combination of folding and weaving, an example of this would be the Chinese Lucky Star.

NAPKIN FOLDING: As the name suggests, you are literally folding a serviette. This can be a perfect addition to your dining table or a functional item at a picnic.

MODULAR ORIGAMI: Origami that is made up of many identical pieces that form a complete model together, such as an Electra.

ORIGAMI TESSELLATIONS: origami where you fold a sheet so that it makes a repeated pattern of bumps or dents, like the skin of a pineapple. This is quite a popular version of origami at the moment and the Herringbone Tessellation is a great example.

TEABAG FOLDING: developed by Dutch artist Tiny van der Plas in 1992, its original purpose was to embellish greeting cards. You use a square piece of paper with a symmetrical pattern printed on it; then you fold it so that they lock into place and produce a physical representation of the pattern on the card.

KIRIGAMI: this is the Japanese term for paper cutting; in traditional Japanese origami, it was often used. These are your paper dolls and snowflakes.

ACTION ORIGAMI: simply put, origami that can move. Strictly speaking, it is origami that needs to be pushed or pulled in one part to move another. However, some believe that this does include origami that is able to fly or needs to be inflated in order to be complete. An example of this is a traditional Japanese flapping bird.

WET-FOLDING: developed by Akira Yoshizawa, this is an origami technique, similar to paper mâché with one sheet of paper, that produces more realistic and gentle curves to the paper sculpture. The paper is wet with a sizing which should be hard when dry, but soften when dissolved in water (it often contains a plant starch of some sort). It’s then applied to the paper while the origamist is folding their paper or after they have reached the final stage.

So now that you know more about how beautiful and amazing origami is, and you know that I promised to show you how to make something yourself, now is that time! However, I have a few tips for you before you begin. Firstly, practice on white paper and have a stash of different types of card and paper. Secondly, make soft folds first and then go over those folds to make them harder, just like a drawing, and for the same reasons too. Finally, REMEMBER TO PRACTISE (and good luck)!

Sweety Bag Instructions

Designer: PAUL JACKSON       Difficulty: EASY         Type: PURELAND

You will need a surface to work on and a square sheet of paper. The one in the pictures is 15cm by 15cm.

STEP 1: Fold and unfold the paper in half, horizontally and vertically.

STEP 2: Fold the top edge to the half way line and turn over.

STEP 3: Fold the top corners to the middle line.

STEP 4: Tuck the bottom corners under the “shirt collar”.

STEP 5: Make sure that the slit is running vertically. Fold from top corner to bottom corner.

STEP 6: Put your thumbs into the slit and gently pull it open. You might have to press here and there to get the shape right.

STEP 7: Voilà! Fill your bag with your stash of sweets or cake or leftovers or that necklace that broke (what a pity) and you haven’t had time to fix it.

Modular Origami

When you get more confident, you can try the Modular/3D Origami I mentioned earlier. An example of Modular Origami is this Egg I created below:

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