How to Make Things Out of Folded Paper

Updated February 21, 2017

Creative paper folding can be used to create hundreds of different decorations, as well as jewellery, boxes, cups, toys and other items. This paper folding technique, called origami, was originally developed in Japan. Many origami designs are simple, which makes it easy for beginner folders to become familiar with the art. However, paper folding can still be tricky. There are a few key things to remember or learn before you decide to tackle your first paper folding project.

Become familiar with some of the basic origami folds. Throughout most origami instructions, you'll be asked to mountain and valley fold. This indicates the direction in which the paper is folded. You may also be asked to create inside or outside reverse folds, squash folds and petal folds. When you have become familiar with these folds, many origami diagrams will make more sense.

Learn the ways different folds are represented in paper folding diagrams. For example, a valley fold is indicated by a dotted line. Knowing this will help you interpret the diagrams.

Study some of the basic origami bases. Bases, such as the waterbomb base, bird base and frog base, are used as a starting point in many origami designs. Studying these bases, as well as other common bases, will make the origami diagrams easier to understand. These bases will also give you practice with some of the common folds.

Find a simple origami diagram. There are hundreds of diagrams available in books or online. Choose a diagram that is marked "beginner" or "easy" for your first attempt at origami. Difficult origami diagrams use more advanced folds and techniques, which can make folding very frustrating if you've never tried it before.

Select a paper with which to create your origami design. Many paper folding diagrams suggest a certain type of paper such as a flexible paper or a stiff paper. Other diagrams suggest size or colour of paper. Selecting a paper that matches the instructions will most likely give you a better final model.

Study the diagram you've chosen. Looking through the instructions before you begin folding will give you a better idea of the shape you're looking to accomplish at each step. Becoming familiar with the diagram also makes things easier when you're folding and reading at the same time.

Practice folding the diagram. Don't be discouraged if your first few attempts don't look perfect. This is a chance for you to become more familiar with the folds and instructions in the diagram.

Fold neatly. Make every fold precise and make the creases sharp. Neat folding makes for a neater final model.

Use these techniques to move on to more advanced paper folding. After you are comfortable folding complex models, you may want to start designing your own.

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Ann LaPan travels exuberantly in body and mind via planes, trains, automobiles and superb literature. A webmaster, website designer, graphic artist, accountant and musician (Jill of all trades, master of a few), she writes Today’s Horoscope for Shooting Star