Origami is the art of paper folding, and is generally thought of as an oriental tradition. The name is made up of two Japanese words, but can refer to the art of paper folding from any culture. It's a skill that has grown in popularity rapidly in recent years, although it has long been a traditional art in Japan. People of all ages and from all walks of life enjoy origami as it's so simple, easy to access and needs so little in the way of materials.
I was amazed when my primary-school children brought home some origami they had done at school, it seemed so impressive but was obviously easy enough for a child to master. There was a bit of a craze at school in making all sorts of origami art, then I met some Japanese exchange students and realised that they all had great paper folding skills. It's so much a part of their culture that most children grow up doing origami. These lovely students spent a day at my kids? school, demonstrating and helping the children to create their own models. The results were very impressive, and I noticed how the children were quiet and focussed on their work. The students also gave us some books with diagrams showing how to make hundreds of designs.
Create your own Origami
You can begin to create your own origami art with nothing more than a diagram and a square of paper. If you can learn a few basic folds and crease patterns you can make lots of shapes. The possibilities for new shapes are endless as you learn more. You can follow design patterns for a while, and then once you have a range of folding skills, you can get creative and make something unique. It is usually done with paper, but there's no rule that says you can't experiment. You usually begin with a square shape but it can be a different shape. Using origami paper gives good definition to the creases, and this is available in many beautiful colours and patterns, often in your local newsagent or craft shop. Buy yourself a book to start with, but check out the designs suggested on websites. Better still, get first-hand instruction and learn quicker. Lots of the designs are animals, and we enjoyed making little mobiles to hang up and show them all off in style. What a great present it makes too!
Origami is used professionally by artists and mathematicians, and can be therapeutic for people recovering from illness. I can also attest to the benefits in the classroom! But the beauty of origami is its sheer versatility and suitability for a broad range of people. Its calming effects and lovely results mean that this hobby will continue to grow in popularity for a long time. Find us here again for more on the satisfying art of origami.