Origami in a Nutshell

What is Origami?

Origami is paperfolding. The word comes from the Japanese oru meaning 'to fold' and kami meaning 'paper'.

So it's Japanese then?

It is generally regarded as Japanese, although it is very likely that other cultures independently evolved their own paper folding tradition.

How old is it?

Probably as old as paper! There was certainly a tradition in Japan (and probably China and Spain) as far back as the 16th century, but this was likely to be simple traditional models handed down from mother to child.

It was only in the mid-20th Century that origami became the creative art that we know now as Akira Yoshizawa revolutionised the form.

To find out more about origami and its history, visit the writings of the acknowledged origami historian David Lister

What are people who 'do' origami called?

There is no set phrase and people have discussed the topic at length. The preferred choices seem to be 'origamist', 'paper-folder' or simply 'folder'.

Do you need special paper?

No. Special origami paper is available which has particular qualities that make it more suitable for folding, but almost any paper will do. Many folders don't stop at paper and will fold card, acetate, stiffened fabric, wire mesh, sheet metal .....

Does it have to be a square of paper?

No. There is a 'purist' tradition that states that models should be folded from a single uncut sheet of square paper and no glue. This is actually a modern viewpoint. Early traditional models were often cut. Glue is somehow less acceptable than cutting!

Having said all that, many people regard the 'single, uncut square' as the ideal solution, but are not overly strict about it.

Happy Folding!

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