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Origami Instructions - Getting Started

The birthplace of origami is still a mystery. Paper was developed in China in the first century A.D., and Buddhist monks brought it to Japan by the sixth century A.D. However there are not many written records from that time, so it is not known whether origami first began in China or Japan. However, no one will argue that Japan developed origami to a high art form. The word origami is Japanese: oru means "to fold", and kami means "paper".

Many grownups remember making origami items as a child. It was often a case of watching as another youngster showed how to make a paper airplane or something similar. After a while, we develop a set of origami instructions in our head, for making several airplanes, boats, animals, water balloons and other toys.

As it turns out, there are only so many ways to fold paper. Developing a "language" of folding helps simplify passing on origami teachings. Terms like "mountain fold" and "valley fold" are used over and over again. Basic fold patterns such as "square base" and "bird base" can be used as starting points for many different origami pieces. From the basic building blocks, an effectively infinite number of origami items can be made.

Special origami kits are available. These contain squares of paper, often colored on one side only. This helps to enhance the three dimensional effect of the item being folded. The paper is also very thin, allowing it to be folded many times. Origami items can also be made from scrap paper, such as standard printer paper. This is often best for paper airplanes, due to its weight and size: larger airplanes (of a given design) generally fly better. True origami is made from one piece of paper without using scissors, glue or decorative items such as markers. However, remember that the goal is to have fun, so use what you like.

The effect of origami as kids is to teach us creativity, patience and following a process. As grownups, paper folding is a great stress reliever and an effective way to bond further with our kids. Whether you'd like to make a simple paper boat or fold an elephant out of a dollar bill, origami is a fun, simple and inexpensive hobby. So get a piece of paper and start folding!

If you'd like to know more about origami, including how to fold specific items, visit our site at

This article may be reprinted if proper credit is given and all links left intact. Copyright©2005

Andre is a contributor to


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