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April 2021
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Origami Handbook

This is a correction to a post I did a while back….The book I meant to recommend is by Rick Beech, called “The Origami Handbook – the classic art of paperfolding in step-by-step contemporary projects.”  It is a favorite because it not only includes lots of fun models (among my favorites: a Pecking Crow “action toy”, compartment insert for the masu box, and a lovely page marker), but also lots of photographs and clear instructions. This is a real gem, available on Amazon with many good condition used versions offered at very low prices. Check it out by clicking the link below, and enjoy!

Happy Valentines Day!

Origami Hearts

I know, this is long overdue and late for Valentine planning — my apologies! But if you’re a last-minute type like I am you may enjoy this cute, clever and relatively easy stand-up heart. There are a couple of slightly tricky steps but I’ve tried to make my instructions and diagrams easy to understand….

All you need is a square sheet of paper; easiest to follow the directions if it is printed on one side and white on the other. A 6″ square works great, I haven’t tried bigger … I like 4″ as well but if you go too much smaller the folds get kind of thick toward the end.

Start with your square sheet of paper white (or un-printed, or that you don’t want to show when we’re finished) side up. Fold the sheet in half from the top to the bottom and give it a good crease; be sure that the open (not folded) edge is on the bottom, nearest you. Diagram 1 below shows the folded sheet with bottom edges down, and indicates our next move: the dashed lines indicate where we fold next — bring each bottom corner up to the center of the top edge, fold and crease well. The result should look like Diagram 2 below. As shown in Diagram 3, take each of the upper corners, fold them down to the bottom point and crease.

Diagrams 1 thru 3

Your result should look like the diamond in Diagram 4. As indicated in Diagram 4, next take each of the top layers of the bottom points and fold them up to meet the top point. Crease each one well, as shown in Diagram 5. Now we are going to focus on the right side first: the result of the next step is shown in Diagram 6. Take a deep breath, it’s not difficult if you pay attention to detail. Note that I have labeled some points on the diagram, and that valley folds are marked by dashed lines and the mountain folds are marked by dashed & dotted lines. It is important as a first step here that you reverse the folds that run from the center to point B and from the center to point A (that is, change the valley fold to a mountain fold and the mountain fold to a valley fold). Then swivel point B over to meet point F; as you do so the bottom half of the opened side will come up and you can lay point D down on top of B (which is now on top of F). Flatten everything out and crease all over.

The result should look like Diagram 7 below. Now do the exact same thing on the left side of the model, resulting in Diagram 8. Note that there are two “flaps”, one in each of the upper left and right corners. First take hold of the upper left flap. Gently lift and bring it straight down so that what was the top edge now lies along the center vertical crease, ending at the bottom point. Do the same on the right side. See Figure 9 for what the model will look like after this step. Finally, flip the model over from top to bottom; Be sure your result looks like Figure 10.

Note the diamond shape in Diagram 10. Fold the top point of the diamond down to the bottom point and crease — see Figure 11 for the result. You can now see in Figure 11 that there are two separate squares at the top. Fold the top edge of each square down to meet the middle horizontal crease, and crease well; see Figure 12. Unfold each of these folds; we will use the creases we just made as landmarks for our next folds, shown in Figure 13.

Now focus on Figure 13. Fold the left and right top corners of each square down to the center of the crease we just created as a landmark; crease and keep folded. Then fold the top points down to that landmark crease as well, and crease, as shown in Figure 14. Voila, see Figure 15 — this is the back side of your heart! Fold the top layer only of the bottom point up a bit and crease; turn the model over to see the prettier side, and use the folded point behind to make it stand up. Play with the location of the fold and see how far up or back you want your heart to tilt.

a pretty folded flower heart Put one on a card, make a bunch of them to put around a dining table, sneak one onto someone’s pillow … Enjoy!

Spring Flower in a Vase

Celebrate Spring and oncoming Summer with these cheerful, easy to fold flowers, each with its own coordinated plant holder. For the flowers pictured above, I used small pieces of colorful papers 3″ square. The patterns shown here are from a pack of 300 sheets of floral print chiyogami, which I found at (an excellent online store). The designs for both the flower and the plant holder are designs created by a number of modern origami artists. The idea to put them together was suggested by Michael LaFosse in his fun kit called “Origami Flowers”. (See end of post for a link)

Ready? Let’s get started and fold some of these…. We’ll start with the plant holder. You can start with a square sheet of paper the same size as you will use for the flower, or use one that is just a little bit smaller — it’s a matter of taste, you can play with the results and see what you like the most. If your paper is colored on one side and white (or pale) on the other, begin with the white side up; in any case, the side you want to show at the end should be face down. We’ll start here with paper that is a very pale pink on one side (facing up in the first picture) and deeper pink on the other:

Orient your paper so the points are at the top and bottom and each side, then fold the bottom point up to the top. The result should look similar to the picture below: a triangle shape with your desired color showing:

Next we are going to fold the left point over to the right point, make a nice sharp crease, and unfold:

Now we are going to take the left point of the triangle and bring it up to meet the top point, folding it so that what was the bottom left edge now lies along the triangle’s vertical crease. Then do the same with the right point — bring it up to meet the top point so the bottom right edge lies along the traingle’s vertical crease. The result should look like the picture on the left below. Then we will take the entire model and turn it over, from left to right. The side facing up shoujld be smooth (no flaps), as shown in the photo below on the right:

Next take the lower left edge and fold it over so that it lies along the center vertical crease. Important: as you do so, left the flap on the back side swing out to the right. Do the same thing on theright side. See photos:

Our last two steps: first, fold the bottom point up to meet the top of the edges you just finished folding.

Then turn the whole thing over (see photo).

Note that the middle point that is higher than the rest of the unit is a double layer — next we will make the flower that will fit right in between those layers. Put the plant base or “vase” aside, and take the paper you are using for the flower. With the white or pale side up and the points of the square at the top and bottom and left and right (like a diamond shape), fold the bottom point up to the top and crease. Now you are looking at a triangle shape, as in the far left photo below. Now, as we did when folding the vase, take the left point of the triangle and fold it over to the right and crease (middle photo). Then unfold it so you have a triangle with a vertical crease in the middle, as in the far right photo below:

For our last two flower steps, we are going to take the left and right points and fold them up toward the top point, but not all the way. Bring them up just a bit off center — look at the photos below to guide you. There is no precise point to fold to here — it’s a matter of taste and what appeals to you. When you have folded up both points, your flower is done. For the final step, place the bottom point of the flower into the middle point of the plant holder or vase, as shown below.

For this and other more elaborate flowers, check out Michael LaFosse’s Origami Flower Kit:

Cruising with Origami

luxury cruise ship

Take a cruise, learn a craft — or teach one! Did you know that you can “earn” cruises by speaking or teaching on board? I do so regularly and have had some wonderful adventures as a result. Learn how you can earn free cruises here!

Delightful Origami Santa's


Are these not adorable? This origami Santa was designed by Linda Mihara. I took her class at the 2009 Pacific Coast Origami Conference and thoroughly enjoyed it. However, it was an afternoon class and my brain was over-full from the day’s instructions.  I didn’t get the figure quite right and later could not remember how to make it. Fortunately it is included in John Montroll’s book: Easy Christmas Origami. I purchased the book and worked through the instructions…with more than a little help from my friends. Some people may find Montroll’s diagrams and very limited instructions to be all that is needed, but I’m afraid I need more! 

I now have this guy pretty well figured out and can turn one out in a reasonably short period of time…fortunately, because I plan to use them on Christmas cards this year. I have come up with my own guidelines, landmarks and techniques for completing the figure so that it comes out right and usually will even stand up on its own. 

If you’re up for some fun Christmas origami you might want to purchase John Montroll’s book. It is a bargain on Amazon and is also eligible for Prime shipping.
 In the meantime, I am going to see if I can contact Ms. Mahara and see if she will give me permission to post my own instructions with photos. Please post a comment if you would find that helpful and it will help our case! 
That Is So Cute Origami Book

If you’re interested in some fun, cute and practical Origami crafts for year-round decorating and gift-giving, take a look at my book. It is designed for origami enthusiasts AND beginners, with clear step-by-step instructions with photos — you do not need to understand traditional Origami diagrams to make these models! Just choose appropriate colors and thems for your papers and customize these items for the holidays.

The book is currently available on Amazon for $12.95; I am offering it here for $11.00 including shipping. (State tax will also apply for California orders.) 

Money Origami: Folded Origami Heart

This model is a lot of fun to make and to share… great for leaving an unusual tip for great service, making an out-of-the-ordinary cash gift, or simply entertaining people. The example below uses a U.S. $1 bill:

1.  I like to start with George Washington face up. Use as crisp a bill as you can find, as that will make it easier to fold and make nice sharp creases. Position the bill as shown below (A.), and then fold each of the bottom corners up to meet the top edge of the bill (B.). Crease well and unfold. The resulting creases should look like (B2.).

2.  Next, do the same with the top two corners, folding them down to meet the bottom edge of the bill, as in (C.). Crease folds well and unfold. See resulting creases shown in (C1) & (C2). All these folds are called “valley folds”, as the “peak” is at the bottom (like a valley). The reverse of this fold, which we’ll see in the next step, is called a “mountain fold”….

3.  Now we want to fold each side of the bill back in a mountain fold, at the precise point where the “X” creases on either side of the bill intersect. We will make two folds, with the result shown in (D.); the creases are shown in (D1); ignore the red circles until the next step. Note that the blue crease lines are a combination of dashes and dots, representing a mountain fold. The “X” creases are valley folds. Be sure to crease all folds very well.


4.  Note in figure (D.) that the mountain fold creases point up. With your index finger, poke down just the point at the intersection of your creases on each side of the bill, marked with the red circles in (D1.). The result should look like (E.) and the close-up in (F.) below. Turn your bill a quarter turn to the left as in (F.) and, with an index finger on each side, start to bring the points indicated with the green arrows in (F.) in toward each other, as shown in (G.). Continue to bring them together; as you do, the upper portion of the bill will fold down over them — this should happen quite naturally due to the creases you have made. The result should look like (H.). Repeat this fold on the opposite end of the bill; the result is shown in (I.).

5.  Turn your model so George is once again right side up (J.). Next fold the entire unit in half, from right to left, as in (K.). Note the yellow crease lines shown in (K.); fold the upper and lower right-side corners along those lines, so your model looks like (L.). Using the inner edge of those folds as a guide (indicated by the yellow crease line in L.), fold the top layer of the left-hand point over to the right. The result is shown in figure (M.).

6.  Note that the upper layer of the top and bottom points of the model each have a “flap” on the right and left sides (see N.). Following the indications of the arrows and crease lines shown in (O.), fold the tips of the flaps on each side out to meet the left or right points of the model. Figure (P.) shows the upper right flap folded out to the right point; crease well. The lower right flap is folded to that same point in figure (Q.), and the left side folds are shown complete in figure (R.).

7.   Now we start to have some fun! Take the upper right flap you folded in the previous section, and gently press on the tip to open it up a bit — see the result in figure (S.). Continue to press (as in T. ), bringing the top point down to the center of the model and forming a small square shape. Crease the folds well; the result is shown in (U.). Do the same with each of the remaining three flaps; the end result should look like (V.).

8.  Figure (W.) is the same as (V.). with the addition of yellow crease lines on the upper right square folded in the previous step. Fold the two corner points in to meet in the middle, along the crease lines indicated—the first fold is shown in (X.) and the second in (Y.). Crease well. Do the same on the three other squares; the result should look like (Z.).

9.  Next we do some folds similar to the “squash” folds you did to create the squares in step 7. You are going to open up each of the flaps you just folded in step 8 and squash the top down flat to create a kite-like shape. These flaps are quite small, so it will be useful to use a toothpick to open them up — see figure (AA.). See the completed fold in figure (BB.). Now do the same fold with the remaining seven flaps… The result should look like figure (CC.).Now fold the back of the model back to meet the bottom point and crease. You will be able to see your heart taking shape (figure DD.). You’re almost there!


10.  Finally, fold the right and left points back, and there is your heart (EE.)! Figure( FF.) shows the heart from the back.

Use the heart as is, as a gift or tip. Or put it on the front of a card — use a tiny piece of double sided tape to do that, or better yet a removable glue dot. They are nice to leave as a tip, and you can use the folded piece in the back to “hang” it on the portfolio your restaurant check arrives in, or on a glass, or wherever appeals to you. You can also tuck a quarter snugly in to the front of the heart, held in place by some of model’s points. Some people call this a “change of heart”…..

Have fun!

Origami Lamp Shade (a.k.a. Shadow Column)


This model was originally designed by Tomoko Fuse, one of the preeminent living Japanese Origami Masters. It is a wonderful example of what you can create using only the more basic of Origami folds: “valley folds” and “mountain folds”. The model is an intriguing geometric form in its own right, and it becomes a lovely piece of decor when placed over a light source. The picture above on the right was taken at our last Thanksgiving dinner — we collected greens and branches on a hike and created our own centerpiece with origami vases and these shades.

Personally, I would strongly discourage using this model with a light bulb and would never use it with a candle due to fire concerns. If you even consider using it with a light bulb you must treat the paper first iwth a fire retardant spray!

OK, here is the how-to:  We begin with a rectangular piece of paper that is 14” x 22” or the same proportion. I like to use a sheet that is 7” x 11” both because it is easy to cut from a standard 8.5” x 11” sheet  and because I like the resulting size — it fits nicely over a flameless tea light or a standing Maglite® flashlight (or something similar). It’s also fun to play with different sizes and assemble a collection (smaller ones are quite cute….).

1.   The diagrams for this model are openly available in several places elsewhere on the web; I am including them here along with my photos for additional clarity. Start with your rectangular sheet of paper positioned so that the long ends run horizontally (A.). Fold the lower left corner up to meet the top edge and crease (B.). Then bring the lower right corner up to meet the edge of your first fold (C.). Unfold both of these folds (D.).


2. Now do the same with the top corners, first bringing the top left corner down to meet the bottom edge and the top right corner down to meet the edge of that fold; crease well (E.) and unfold (F.).


3. Now fold the lower left corner up to meet the first diagonal crease (G.); then bring the right lower corner up past the top edge of the paper so that its vertical edge now lies along the edge you just created—see figure (H.). Crease folds well and unfold.


4.  Now do the same thing from the top of the paper: fold the upper left corner in  to meet the nearest diagonal crease; then fold the upper right corner down past the bottom edge of the paper, so that its vertical edge lines up with the vertical edge you created in the previous fold (I.). Crease both folds well and unfold (J.).


5.   We complete our diagonal valley folds by continuing to fold the corners at half-way points throughout the entire sheet, as indicated in the diagram below. Be sure to crease all folds very well, they should be nice and crisp. Then turn your piece of paper over.

6. Note that, now that you have turned the sheet over, your diagonal folds have become mountain folds. Now make horizontal (valley) folds at the intersections of the diagonal folds and crease them very well — see diagram below.

Once you have made your horizontal folds and creased them well, turn the sheet back over (K.). Your diagonal folds are once again valley folds, and your horizontal folds are mountain folds. Before assembling the shade, you may wish to “re-crisp” your diagonal folds… 

7.  Finally, pick up your sheet and bend the ends around so the short ends meet; line them up, overlapping a bit, so that creases line up and intersections lie precisely on top of intersections. Use a bit of double-sided tape or a few glue dots to attach the ends, then be sure all your diagonal folds are nicely indented. There you have your shade!

These would make great, inexpensive yet classy decorations for any event, including a wedding! A parchment-type paper makes nice, crisp creases and also lets  light shine through nicely. Have fun experimenting and share your results!

Origami Cross

This is a simple model created from a single, long and narrow strip of paper. Quilling paper works well if yO_Cross_11_Finalou happen to have  that on hand — it’s often available at craft stores like Michael’s as well as online. But you can use any kind of paper that is available in large enough sheets to let you cut a strip that is 13-15″ long and 1/2 to 5/8″ wide. I like to use paper that is a different color on each side even though only a small square of the “wrong” side shows up in the final model.

I hunted down instructions in order to make these for my classmates at the close of  a recent Bible class at our church. It was enjoyable to make them on All Saints Day/All Souls Day as I remembered the dear people no longer with us who have been so important in my life. That’s one of the beauties of Origami … once you have mastered a particular techniqe or model, it is a lovely, meditative and relaxing activity.

Here are the Origami Cross step-by-step instructions with photos:

I used a piece of paper about 15″ long and just over 1/2″ wide. It has a vine pattern on one side and is green on the other — decorative paper that I bought at Paper Source (one of my favorite stores). We used this paper in several items for my son and daughter-in-law’s wedding this past summer — fortunately I’m  a compulsive saver and kept the long narrow strips left from cutting many smaller pieces from large sheets of this paper…yay!.

1.  Begin with your paper’s primary design side facing up so the long edge is vertical, as in photo 1.   2. Now measure about 5-5.5″ down and at that point, fold the top end of the paper down and across to the left so that it now lies perpendicular to the vertical piece — see photo 2.  Photo 3 is simply a close-up of what the top of the piece should now look like:


Though typically it is recommended that you fold on a hard flat surface, at this point I think it is easier to pick the whole piece up.  4. Fold the arm extending out to the left in photos 2 & 3 back behind the unit and out to the right — as in photos 4 & 5 –  and crease at the point where it is approximately even with the left side of the vertical “stem” :


6. Still holding the unit, fold the arm back across the front of the piece and crease it even with the right side of the stem, as in photo 6 and close-up in photo 7.



8. Now lift what has become the left arm and start to fold it to the right — however, don’t fold it all the way across. Stop so that a short piece still extends to the left — this will be the left arm of your cross. You may want to wait to crease it until you start the next step and can make the two sides even before committing your creases (though photo 9 shows the first crease already made – I used a fairly soft kind of paper so it was rather forgiving…). 10. Fold the right side under and slide it between the layers in the center as you can see in photo 10. Crease when you are satisfied that the left and right arms of the cross are approximately even. The result should look like photo 11.



12. & 13.  Now you have a T-shape, and photo 12 shows a close-up of the top of the T. Grasp the top and fold it down over itself and crease, resulting in photo 13. Note the small loop that is now visible at the center of the “arms”:


14. At this stage, you may want to use scissors to create a point at the bottom of the vertical piece (as in photo 14) to make the next few steps a little easier. )Origami purists would not approve.) If you have not folded too tightly in steps 4 throught 6 this is not be necessary.  15. Lift the bottom of the stem and weave it up through loop at the center of the arms. 16. Draw it all the way through and  17. Crease. The unit should now look like photo 17.


18. Next we form the vertical part of the cross. Take the top point and fold it over and down, weaving it back through the loop at the center of the arms. 19. Draw it down until you reach the point that leaves the upper portion (above the cross arms) just a bit longer than the width of each arm. The result should look like photo 19.


20. Finally, fold the bottom stem under and back up toward the center. 21. Tuck it in between the layers in the center and 22. Crease when it is the right length. (Depending on how long a piece you started with, you may want to trim a bit off this bottom piece).Instructions_Group_9

23. Now turn the piece over, and you have your finished cross.  Make several models — once you are used to the steps, it goes quite quickly and easily. Play with various lengths and widths and see what appeals to you most…


Happy Halloween


OK, this isn’t Origami — but I had to give a nod to Halloween and show off my Halloween Eggs. The nest is made of papier maiche, so at least paper is involved.  And it highlights one of my other passions: eggs! This was a Martha Stewart Project from her October 2004 magazine. You can still find her Halloween Eggs pictures and instructions on her web site. A warning: it’s a lot of work and requires some special equipment (not to mention blowing out eggs)!

Here they are sitting on some of my little sticky-note boxes (box how-to’s coming soon!). Eggs_Row_PostPic_MOd


The pumpkin is my favorite….Egg_Pumpkin_PostPic_Mod
followed by the spider web.


Origami Bowl Instructions


A happy little riot of bouganvillea from my back yard

A happy little riot of bougainvillea from my back yard


 Check my previous post for a discussion of this project — this post provides the how-to. Don’t be put off by the  length of the photo instructions — I have just tried to be very clear for beginners, as abbreviated or graphical instructions have often frustrated me.

Begin with a rectangular piece of paper – the one used in the photo is 8.5″x11″ and that works very well, yielding a bowl or box that is about 4.25″ on a side. If you are using paper that has a design or different color on one side, start with that side facing down. (For the purpose of learning, if your paper is the same on both sides you might want to use a pencil to shade one side and make that the “right” side which begins facing down) — See figure 1. Remaining instructions are numbered below, corresponding with the photos. The “looped arrow” graphic you see at various points means to turn the whole unit over (horizontally).


1-2. With the “right” side down and the paper facing you as in 1, fold the paper in half from top to bottom. End result is pictured in 2.
3.  Now fold it in half horizontally, as indicated in (3); end result shown in 4.

5.  Unfold the fold just made in 4.
6.  Bring the upper left corner down to meet the center; crease the resulting fold as shown. Do the same on the right hand side, as pictured in 7. Resulting unit shown in 8. Unfold the left folded down corner so that it is once again in the upper left, shown in 9.
Take a deep breath and know that the next step is easier than it looks. The diagram in 10 is intended to show that you are going to lift the TOP LAYER ONLY of the lower left corner (note the white dot), and lift it up and over so that it lies on top of the lower right corner (see other white dot). As you do so, and as is shown in photos 11-13,  “squash” the upper portion (the “right” side of the paper facing up) so that the top edge highlighted in red in diagram 10, with the black arrow pointing at it, will now lie down the center fold. Flatten the unit and crease your folds. The result should look like photos 14 & 15. When you get to this point, turn the whole unit over — we’re going to do one more step and then do the same thing on the other side!


  After turning the unit over, lift the top portion of the left side and fold it over to the right (shown in 17)– you should see the folded-down corner now in the upper right, as in photos 17 & 18.

19. Now lift the upper right corner as we did on the left in 9.  As shown in 20-22, follow the same procedure that we did in 11-14: lift the top layer of the lower right corner and bring it over to lie on top of the lower left corner, at the same time bringing the top point straight down and “squashing” it flat so that it lies along the center fold. Lay it flat and crease your folds. Result shown in 23.
Notice that, in 23, the middle of the bottom is split. We want to change that in a very simple way:
24. Lift the top layer on the right and fold it to the left. (result shown in 25). Turn the whole unit over — result shown in 26. Likewise, on this side, lift what is now the upper layer on the right and fold it over to the left, as shown in 27; the result is shown in 28.
29. Next fold the upper layer of the lower right in to the center, and crease.
30. Do the same on the left side. Fold and crease, and then turn the whole unit over; the result should look like photo 31 (see below).
32-33: Now repeat steps 29 & 30 on this side.


34. We’re almost there!  Fold the top layer of the bottom portion (the white section in 34) up to meet the lower edge of the top section (the red print portion), and crease.

35. Fold that folded-over piece up again, this time coming up over the edge of the top section, and crease. Turn the unit over; it should now look like 36.

37-38: Repeat steps 34 & 35 on this side, and crease.

39. Next fold the top point down to the bottom of the unit; crease the  top fold (40).

Finally, pick the unit up and hold it by the two “handles” — the segments you just folded over on each side. Gently pull them apart from each other — it should begin to look like photo 41.

42. Continue to separate each pair of sides, opening up the inner portion of the bowl as you do.

43. Smooth out your creases and voila, you have your bowl!   44. simply shows what the unit looks like upside down….

Enjoy — and post comments with your own clever ideas or questions!