Make Origami the Japanese Art of Paper Folding

Make Origami
Origami, the Japanese art of paper folding, is as impressive as it is intimidating. How do you turn a piece of paper into a beautiful bird? Start by learning how to understand the symbols in origami diagrams, then practice some of the most common folding techniques. When you’re ready to fold your own shape, pick one that uses the popular preliminary base that’s easy for beginners. Ready, set, fold! Become an absolute expert.

Method 1 of 3:Making Basic Shapes

1. Fold a heart
Fold a heart for a romantic craft. A simple paper heart makes a great Valentine’s Day decoration or a homemade card for a loved one. It only requires easy folds so it’s perfect for beginners, and it also teaches you the pyramid base.

Decorate the heart with markers, glitter, or stickers when you’re finished if you’re using it as a valentine or other type of card.
Make lots of small hearts and hang them on a string to drape around your house as a cute garland.
If you’re a beginner, stick with origami paper, which is thinner and easier to fold.
Choose metallic foil paper or gift wrap if you want a more glamorous craft.
For sturdier shape, use thicker card stock.
Try thinking outside of the box for materials. For instance, you could use napkins, tissue paper, or even newspaper pages for a fun challenge.

2. Make a fortune teller

Make a fortune teller for a fun game to play with your friends. Start by folding the paper in half both ways. Then fold the 4 corners in towards the center of the paper. Flip it over and fold all of the corners to the middle again.

Write 8 fortunes on the inside of each corner. Open the corners on the side where they look like triangles. Each corner will have 2 fortunes.
On the side where the corners form little squares, write 4 different things from the same category. For example, if you pick colors, write “red,” “blue,” “green,” and “yellow.” You could also use animals, seasons, types of shoes, etc.
To operate the fortune teller, pinch underneath the corner flaps with your index fingers and thumbs. As you open and close your hands, so will the fortune teller.

3. Learn the popular waterbomb base by making an origami balloon
Learn the popular waterbomb base by making an origami balloon. This base is used in a lot of intermediate and advanced origami designs, so it’s a good one to master. Once you make the base, do a few more folds and then inflate the balloon to form its shape.

You can also fill the balloon with water.
To make a waterbomb base, crease a square piece of paper along both diagonals and then in half, unfolding in between each new fold. Bring 2 opposite edges together so that the paper collapses into a triangle.
If the paper doesn’t collapse easily, you may need to re-crease the folds.

4. Create an origami airplane

Create an origami airplane for a boredom-busting toy. Meet the more advanced, cooler version of the paper airplane. Fold a standard airplane shape, or mix it up with a jet or hang glider.

Once you’ve folded your plane, it’s time for take-off! Throw it in the air just like you would throw a football and watch it soar.
Host an origami airplane contest with your friends. See who can make the plane that will fly the farthest.

5. Try folding a star

Try folding a star if you want a unique decoration. One of the most common shapes for beginners, the star looks a lot more difficult to make than it actually is. Cut a piece of paper in half, then fold the 2 pieces separately before taping them together to form the star shape.

Attach your star to a stick and place it outside, like in a garden, to watch the wind spin it around like a pinwheel.
You can also use a star as a festive topper for a present.

Method 2 of 3:Folding Flowers and Animals

1. Create an origami lily
Create an origami lily to make a beautiful bouquet that will last. If you love the look of flowers but hate how fast fresh ones die, fold paper ones instead. The lily is a common origami shape that requires a few advanced folds, so make sure you’re comfortable with beginner shapes first.

You can attach your lily to a pipe cleaner stem or add paper leaves to make it look more realistic.
Group a bunch of lilies together for a lovely centerpiece or even for a wedding bouquet.

2. Practice making a lotus flower
Practice making a lotus flower for an authentic Japanese blossom. There are many types of origami flowers you can fold, but lotus flowers are particularly popular in Japan. Each of these flowers requires a series of blintz folds.

Mix and match paper colors for an artsy effect.
You can decorate the flowers with glitter or paint after you fold them for extra embellishment.
Once you’ve mastered 1 shape, try a more advanced variation or another shape. You won’t improve if you never push yourself.
Origami takes lots of practice. Start a daily origami routine and try to practice for at least 10 minutes every day.

3. Fold a jumping frog

Fold a jumping frog if you want a craft that you can play with. The fun doesn’t stop after you’re done making this frog. If you fold the body of the amphibian properly, your frog will be able to jump in the air!

To make the frog jump, set it on a flat surface and press down on the back of its body. Release it quickly to watch it spring up.
This is a great activity for young kids, who will love playing with their finished frogs.

4. Make a paper crane for an elegant origami creation

Make a paper crane for an elegant origami creation. Cranes and swans look incredibly graceful and delicate when folded out of paper. Using just mountain and valley folds, the swan is well-suited for beginners. The crane is slightly more advanced.

You can keep your birds as flat shapes or, if you want them to be more 3D, gently pull the head and tail apart further.
You can also blow air into the bottom of the bird to inflate them slightly.
Stringing paper birds together makes a sophisticated garland or piece of wall art.

5. Try folding an origami dragon

Try folding an origami dragon if you’re comfortable making bird shapes. The dragon builds off the base that you use when folding birds. Once you’ve created the body just like you would a bird, add folds to create the tail, wings, and head.

Get creative with your dragon! Make a horn, add spikes to the tail, or embellish the wings with tiny pleats.
There is a more basic version of the dragon if you’re a beginner.

Method 3 of 3:Reading an Origami Diagram

1. Look for a symbol telling you which side of the paper should face up

Look for a symbol telling you which side of the paper should face up. Traditional origami paper is colored on 1 side, and blank on the other. The first image in a diagram should have some type of symbol letting you know which side to start on. For example, if you should start with the blank side, you might see a square piece of white paper with a shaded corner turned up.

Another common symbol is a circle with the top half shaded and the bottom half white. That indicates that the colored side of the paper should be facing up.
Starting with the correct side prevents you from having a shape that’s made from the blank side instead of the colorful one.

2. Determine the type of fold to make based on whether a line is dotted

Determine the type of fold to make based on whether a line is dotted. You’ll see different kinds of lines on an origami diagram. If the line has a combination of dashes and dots, fold the paper away from you into a mountain fold. If the line is just dotted, fold the paper towards you into a valley fold.
A straight line indicates a crease that was formed by a previous fold.

3. Follow the arrows to know which direction to fold the paper in

Follow the arrows to know which direction to fold the paper in. Besides the basic right and left arrows, diagrams also include more complex arrows to guide your folding. For example, an arrow with a line that goes to the right and then back to the left means to fold the paper to the right and then unfold it.

A “fold and unfold” direction may also look like a line with an arrow at both ends. Fold the paper in the direction of the normal arrow, then unfold it towards the hollow arrow.
You might also see a line that curves, almost making a circle, and points back to where the line started. This indicates a mountain fold.

4. Find special arrows that signal when to rotate or flip the paper over

Find special arrows that signal when to rotate or flip the paper over. If you see an arrow that loops over itself, you know to turn the piece of paper to the other side. Arrows that form a circle indicate to rotate the paper a specific degree or number of turns.

If you’re supposed to rotate the paper by a certain degree, like 45 or 90, the number will be inside the circular arrow.
Sometimes there will be a fraction inside the arrow, instead of a degree. For example, if it says “1/4,” you’ll make a quarter turn.

5. Repeat specific steps when you see arrows with lines on them

Repeat specific steps when you see arrows with lines on them. Some arrows will have smaller, perpendicular lines going through them at the end of the line opposite from the actual arrow. The number of lines on the arrow signify how many repetitions to make.
For instance, if there’s 1 line, it means to repeat the step on 1 other side or flap. If there are 2 lines, repeat the step on 2 other sides or flaps, and so on.