Origami Art

OrigamiOrigami is the traditional Japanese folk art of paper folding, which started in the 17th century AD and was popularized in the mid-1900s.

It has since then evolved into a modern art form. The goal of this art is to transform a flat sheet of material into a finished sculpture through folding and sculpting techniques, and as such the use of cuts or glue are not considered to be origami.


The number of basic origami folds is small, but they can be combined in a variety of ways to make intricate designs. The most well known origami model is probably the Japanese paper crane. In general, these designs begin with a square sheet of paper whose sides may be different colors or prints. Traditional Japanese origami, which has been practiced since the Edo era (1603–1867), has often been less strict about these conventions, sometimes cutting the paper or using nonsquare shapes to start with.


Many origami books begin with a description of basic origami techniques which are used to construct the models. These include simple diagrams of basic folds like valley and mountain folds, pleats, reverse folds, squash folds, and sinks. There are also standard named bases which are used in a wide variety of models, for instance the bird base is an intermediate stage in the construction of the flapping bird.

Origami paper

Almost any laminar material can be used for folding; the only requirement is that it should hold a crease.

Origami paper, often referred to as "kami" (Japanese for paper), is sold in prepackaged squares of various sizes ranging from 2.5 cm to 25 cm or more. It is commonly colored on one side and white on the other; however, dual coloured and patterned versions exist and can be used effectively for color-changed models. Origami paper weighs slightly less than copy paper, making it suitable for a wider range of models.


It is common to fold using a flat surface but some folders like doing it in the air with no tools especially when displaying the folding. Many folders believe no tool should be used when folding. However a couple of tools can help especially with the more complex models. For instance a bone folder allows sharp creases to be made in the paper easily, paper clips can act as extra pairs of fingers, and tweezers can be used to make small folds. When making complex models from origami crease patterns, it can help to use a ruler and ballpoint embosser to score the creases. Completed models can be sprayed so they keep their shape better, and of course a spray is needed when wet folding.

Types of Origami

Action origami

Origami not only covers still-life, there are also moving objects; Origami can move in clever ways. Action origami includes origami that flies, requires inflation to complete, or, when complete, uses the kinetic energy of a person's hands, applied at a certain region on the model, to move another flap or limb. Some argue that, strictly speaking, only the latter is really "recognized" as action origami. Action origami, first appearing with the traditional Japanese flapping bird, is quite common.

Modular origami

Modular origami consists of putting a number of identical pieces together to form a complete model. Normally the individual pieces are simple but the final assembly may be tricky. Many of the modular origami models are decorative balls like kusudama, the technique differs though in that kusudama allows the pieces to be put together using thread or glue.

Chinese paper folding includes a style called 3D origami where large numbers of pieces are put together to make elaborate models. Sometimes paper money is used for the modules. This style originated from some Chinese refugees while they were detained in America and is also called Golden Venture folding from the ship they came on.


Wet-folding is an origami technique for producing models with gentle curves rather than geometric straight folds and flat surfaces. The paper is dampened so it can be moulded easily, the final model keeps its shape when it dries. It can be used for instance to produce very natural looking animal models.

Pureland origami

Pureland origami is origami with the restriction that only one fold may be done at a time, more complex folds like reverse folds are not allowed, and all folds have straightforward locations. It was developed by John Smith in the 1970s to help inexperienced folders or those with limited motor skills. Some designers also like the challenge of creating good models within the very strict constraints.


In Kirigami it is allowed to make cuts. In traditional Origami, there was no Kirigami. Kirigami was simply called Origami. Just in the recent century the term Kirigami developed in order to distinguish it from "pure Origami"