Origami: How to Use Papers and Folding in Your Art

When I was a child, someone gave me a stack of origami papers and a booklet of origami instructions. Being the spatially challenged person that I am, I quickly lost patience with origami folding. Instructions at that time were 2-D only, no video, and I had a hard time following the directions with dotted lines and arrows. "Easy" origami flower? Mine looked like a lumpy snowball. I stuck to paper airplanes and cootie catchers.

origami how to moonlight sewnata 1 kim
"Moonlight Sew-nata 1" by Gina Lee Kim
incorporates origami papers.

I loved the origami papers, though, and treasured my stash, making it last as long as possible. The deeply pigmented squares, with a velvet coating of color on one side, featured in countless paper art projects, school posters, and handmade cards.

When I see a pack of origami papers at the art supply store-now printed with patterns as well as solid colors-I'm immediately a child again savoring that stash.

Origami decorations have become trendy lately. They make a fun, easy, and colorful way to make any event festive-from weddings to birthday parties.

A quick perusal of the galleries on the clothpaperscissors.com community reveals that many artists are using origami techniques to create dimension in their work. Others are working the papers into mixed-media art.

For example, Gina Lee Kim used a combination of fabric and origami paper to create the sofa and other decorations on this mixed-media collage she calls "Moonlight Sew-nata 1."

The piece is built on an original watercolor painting Gina scanned and printed on matte photo paper.  She added bold color & texture with acrylic paint, then layered on tiny hand-cut fabric leaves using soft gel medium.

zen spring origami bra ladywilson
"Zen Spring Origami Bra" by Ladywilson.

Site contributor Ladywilson created "Zen Spring Origami Bra"  "to make a bra that expressed the strenghth of pink in a meditative way."  She chose delicate origami papers and hung her finished bra across pink spring blossoms.

"I have always looked upon the women that face down and conquer [breast cancer] as possessing warrior like spirits while at the same time embodying a Zen-like way about themselves, and their often life-changing situations," she writes.

Then there is the mixed-media paper art by contributor Claudia Christine Moo. She has uploaded a series of works to the community that feature mixed media on a folded origami substrate.

origami how to claudia christine moo
"Hearts" mixed-media with origami
folds by Claudia Christine Moo.

The mountain and valley folds create a zigzag effect, turning acrylic paint, ink, collage, and markers into 3-D art. I'm fascinated with these pieces! I recommend searching for her on the community and looking at how she incorporates origami into her art.

Paper folding techniques (and decorative papers) come into play in many projects featured in Cloth Paper Scissors magazine and our special issues. We have some basic paper-folding (origami) instructions on our Video Alerts page to get you started.

Now that we have the ability to watch someone demonstrate origami folding instructions, it's easier for someone like me to follow and learn the techniques. I might even manage to make an origami flower that resembles a flower.

I read pretty much everything–from art techniques to recipes–on my mobile devices, because they are portable and I can call up the information I need instantly wherever I am. I guess that's why our digital subscriptions are so popular!

P.S. Do you learn better by watching a demonstration or by reading directions? Leave your answer below.

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Blog, Paper Art and Zen Doodle

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