Japanese Crafts: The Basics of Origami Folds

Origami cranes

The first time I ever experienced Origami was in grade 4 when my teacher invited her good friend to come in and teach the class the art of paper folding.  If I remember correctly, we all did very well and by the end of the two weeks of lessons we could competently create a ball, the crane and a few other folds.  I was constantly amazed by the intricacy of the folds and how easy it was to obtain the folds if you knew a little about the basics of Origami.

And that is what this article is all about.  We won’t get into the all the major folds and we definitely won’t be creating anything at this point but you will learn a few of the folds that are essential to creating a beautiful origami craft.

The Crease and the Fold:

If you have ever tried origami, you have probably heard the term “crease” and the term “fold” but you are probably wondering what the difference is.  You need to fold something to produce a crease, right?  Of course, you are right and a crease and a fold are pretty much the same thing.  The only difference is that with a fold, you would complete the action and keep the paper in the folded position.  With a crease, you would open the page back up.  So for instance, you would fold the paper in half for some origami designs and leave it in half so you have a rectangle, or a triangle.  This is the fold.  Other patterns ask for a crease.  So instead of leaving the paper in a rectangle, you would open it back up to a square of paper; leaving a creased line running the length of the paper.  And that is all there is between a fold and a crease.

The Valley Fold:

This is one of the most common folds that you are going to create and it can be done on either a diagonal or a horizontal.

When you create a valley fold, you will need to lay your paper out on the table with the design on the bottom.  Taking one edge of your paper, you should fold it up until it reaches the other edge.  Flatten it with your fingertips and leave, unless the design is calling for a crease.  When you are finished, the printed side of the paper should be showing on both sides and when you hold the paper up and pinch it along the fold, it will create a valley.

The Mountain Fold:

Another common fold, the Mountain fold is done in the similar fashion as the mountain fold, except instead of folding the paper up and over, you will fold the paper down and under so the printed side is on the inside of the fold and not the outside.  Many people simply use the valley fold but instead of having the blank side facing up, they have the printed side face up.  When you hold the paper, the opened part should be facing down with the fold creating a mountain.

The Squash Fold:

The last fold that I am going to go over is the Squash Fold.  This is another fairly common fold that is used in origami but it is not considered to be one of the most basic of folds.  Still, it is important to know how to create this fold so you can make many of the different designs of origami.

When you make a squash fold, you will need to fold the paper in a diagonal manner with the valley fold to create a large triangle.  Fold the triangle in half to create a smaller triangle and use both the valley and the mountain folds to do so. This will create a crease that can be folded both ways.  Open the smaller triangle up into a larger triangle.  Take one edge of the triangle and fold it to the half line that you have already created.  This will be from the widest part of the triangle down to the peak of the triangle.  Again use the valley and mountain folds so there is a crease that can be folded both ways.  Now all you need to do is fold the triangle in half again, although this time you should open up the triangle that has been creased and fold only one side of the triangle, squashing the rest of the paper to create a square on one side of the triangle.

It is a tricky fold when you start using it but with practice it becomes very simple to do.

Now that you have the folds, you can go and create many beautiful origami art pieces from simple table decorations to elaborate mobiles.

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