April 25th, 2010 by Craftylocks

What is Origami?

Essentially Origami is the Japanese art of paper folding. The word Origami originates from the Japanese words ori for folding and kami for paper. The technique is based on a square piece of paper that is folded into a sculpture. Origami traditionally does not use scissors to cut the paper or any glue.

Origami paper that is generally available in shops is usually lighter weight than copy paper and is white on one side. Traditional paper used for Origami is ‘washi’ paper, wa meaning Japanese and shi also meaning paper, the term is used for paper made in a traditional way by hand. It is tougher than ordinary paper and it is not made from wood pulp but from other various plant fibers.  The weight of the paper will impact on the complexity of folds that can be made, but in general most papers can be used for Origami.


The range of basic folds used in Origami is quite small, just using the simplest ones enables many many Origami sculptures to be made. In my tutorials I use photos to show the transitions or folds as I find it helpful to see an actual sculpture pr model being made to help me understand what needs to be done. In many Origami books and instructions there are a set of symbols used on diagrams to explain what needs to be done. The below are the most commonly used folds with the symbols used.

Valley Fold

The paper folds forward and the fold or crease is at the bottom of a valley. Indicated with a solid or open arrow as the instruction, and a dashed line to indicate where the fold or crease is.



valley-fold2 valley-fold1

Mountain Fold

The paper folds away and the fold or crease is at the top of the mountain. Indicated with a hollow or half hollow arrow as the instruction and a dashed and dotted line to indicate where the fold or crease is.



mountain-fold2 mountain-fold1a

Fold and Unfold

Or making a crease. A line with a solid arrow at one end and a hollow arrow at the other end, or a line returning on itself, means to fold and unfold the paper to make a crease. These arrows indicate using a valley fold to make the crease.

fold-unfold-arrows fold-unfold

Turn Over

Turn the sculpture over.

turn-over-arrow turn-over1 valley-fold1


Spin the paper around, but still with the same side facing up.

rotate valley-fold1 rotate-valley-fold

Now you are ready to try out some simple Origami sculptures

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