Origami, how to get started in the words of a former beginner

Posted on March 17, 2012 by


By Leah Rodriguez

What can a piece of paper become? Some might say nothing besides placing text on it or placing a copy of a photograph in black/white or color. I visited a local bookstore about a year ago in search of a new form of Art that I could make in which I would not need too many materials to get started. I came across two Origami books: one book on general basic Origami and another on Fashion Origami.

The first part of the word Origami which is “ori” means folding. The end of the word Origami which is “gami” means paper. The art of paper folding is Origami. Paper was invented in China in the first century A.D. and it was transported to Japan by Buddhist monks in the sixth century A.D. The goal of Origami is to take a flat sheet of paper and create a 2- Dimensional or 3-Dimensional piece of artwork. The basic form of Origami paper is in the shape of a square. It has four corners at 90 degree angles. Also, it has four sides all of the same length.

Now you may be wondering about Paper, what type? One of the most readily available papers and useful choices is computer paper, which is unlined. It is light weight, white in color and great for repeating a crease if a mistakes occurs. Most local craft stores sell precut origami paper in packets of 25-55 pieces of paper.

The precut origami paper comes in the shape of a square. The size of the square comes in a variety of sizes such as 4 ½”, 5 7/8”, 6” and 8”. It is colored on the front side and white on the backside, patterned on the front side and white on the backside or metallic on the front side and white on the back side. Also, it comes in a variety of styles such as patterned, colors, foil and fluorescent. A 5 and 7/8” package of 40 sheets of Origami paper costs $2.99 to $4.99 depending on the store.

However, there are two other types of paper that may be more readily available to some; wrapping paper and recycled paper. Wrapping paper is lightweight, sometimes patterned and more readily available commercially. Recycled Paper can be any type of paper that had already been used such a page from a magazine, flyers, newspaper, sheet music, letters and napkins.

One may believe that they need to buy 50-150 sheets of Origami Paper to start off but each Basic Level to Intermediate Level Origami piece uses only one sheet of paper. Basic Level One Origami is usually everyday objects we see in life and have a small amount of steps to get a finished product; usually between 5-9 steps.

Intermediate Level Origami may be everyday objects that are a bit more complicated to make such as a tulip or party dress may require 15-20 steps. Many present day Advanced Origami makers first plan their own unique pieces using advanced mathematical equations to figure out how to put the pieces of Origami paper together to make an Origami piece even before physically making the first crease in the piece of Origami paper; this type of Origami is called Modular Origami.

A few instruments that maybe used to make origami are a bone folder, ruler and ballpoint embosser. The ruler maybe needed to accurately measure out small fractions of a length precisely to obtain a cleanly folded final product. The bone folder allows you to make deep creases in origami paper. The embosser allows you to make creases on the origami paper in conjunction with the use of a ruler on pieces that are three dimensional.

Akira Yoshizawa of Japan invented a key of symbols which included dashes, dots and lines to help people to fold the origami pieces.  These symbols along with diagrams help people make the Origami piece.   A few of the 13 common symbols used in the directions to make Origami pieces are below.

I have to say so far my preferred type of Origami is Fashion Origami. I thought creating a gorgeous coin purse was thrilling. Currently, I am trying to replicate an Origami plate with Sunny-Side Up Eggs and Bacon. You the creator of Origami pieces must get to know your paper, a good idiom is to be one with your paper.

I recommend two books for beginners level Origami: The Joy of Origami by Margaret Van Sicklen [2005] and Fashion Origami: fold dazzling fashion designs by Eva Steele-Saccio.

A few local stores I have found origami paper at are C.C. Lowell on Park Avenue, A.C. Moore in Lincoln Plaza, Michaels in Millbury at The Shoppes at Blackstone Valley and occasionally at Barnes & Nobles in Lincoln Plaza.

Also, I recommend visiting the website of the following Origami groups for further information on Origami: International Origami Centre, Nippon Origami Association, The Friends of the Origami Center of America, West Coast Origami Guild and The British Origami Society.



Valley fold- fold the paper forward



Mountain fold- fold the paper behind




Existing Edge or a Crease that was made

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