How to Make an Origami Carp

Written by kat black
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How to Make an Origami Carp
Because they are capable of swimming upstream, koi have come to symbolise perseverance in many Asian cultures. (Medioimages/Photodisc/Valueline/Getty Images)

Since the 17th century, origami has provided creative outlets for both children and adults. Practitioners of the Japanese art of paper folding create elaborate designs for animals and objects. One traditional origami animal is the carp, or koi, an animal symbolising transformation, perseverance and courage. Many origami carp designs exist. This design is one of the simpler ones, suitable for children and adult beginners.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy


  1. 1

    Place your square piece of origami paper, oriented like a diamond with a corner pointing up, in front of you.

  2. 2

    Take the left-hand corner and fold it over to meet the right-hand corner. Run your thumb along the crease. Then, unfold the paper.

  3. 3

    Fold the top corner down to meet the bottom corner. After creasing the fold with your thumb, unfold the paper.

  4. 4

    Make a kite fold by taking the bottom left-hand edge of the square and folding it towards the centre line. Use your thumb to crease the paper, but only from the bottom to the centre line.

  5. 5

    Unfold the kite fold. Repeat the kite fold with the remaining three edges of the square. In each instance, take care not to crease above the centre line. Unfold each kite fold before proceeding to the next one.

  6. 6

    Curve the bottom and top left-hand kite folds up. Use your left thumb and index finger to pinch the folds together where they meet at the centre line. Fold the top of the pinched area down and press the paper down firmly so that it rests flat. Repeat this process with the kite folds on the right side.

  7. 7

    Flip the paper over, from right to left. You should have a long, thin diamond shape.

  8. 8

    Fold the top of the diamond down to just below the centre line and crease the fold with your thumb. Repeat with the bottom of the diamond, bringing the corner to just above the centre line. Your paper should now be in the shape of a hexagon.

  9. 9

    Take the left side of the hexagon and fold it over to meet the right side. Press firmly with your thumb to create a crease.

  10. 10

    Rotate your paper so that the straight edge is on the left and so that the flaps point downward.

  11. 11

    Hold the paper in your left hand and pinch the bottom edge closed. Reach into the centre of the paper with your right index finger. Grasp the point and slide it out gently. This point becomes the carp's tail.

  12. 12

    Turn the paper so that the long, flat edge is on the bottom. The tail should point slightly upwards.

  13. 13

    Locate the triangular flap on the side of the paper facing you. Fold the edge to meet the central line of the paper. This fold creates the carp's fin. Then, make the fin on the other side of the carp.

Tips and warnings

  • Although this goes against the style of traditional origami, you can apply glue to the inside of the carp so that it can stand up by itself.
  • If you are preparing this origami carp with children, provide wiggly eyes and paint for the kids to decorate their fish. This type of decoration, however, would be frowned upon by origami purists.
  • For more ornate, yet traditional, origami carp, use metallic origami paper.

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