Paper folding is often referred to as origami and whilst they have a lot in common, they aren’t always the same thing. Origami is the well-known Japanese paper folding technique whereby you create beautiful three-dimensional designs by only folding paper, avoiding cutting or glue.

By contrast, paper folding is much less restrictive, including all elements of origami and projects that require cutting and glueing. In this article, we’ll guide you through the art of paper folding, what type of paper to use, and inspiration and tips for taking on your new paper folding project.

There are a multitude of projects to choose from when it comes to paper folding, you can make the humble crane, or you can pick a more interactive paper folding such as the fortune teller. Paper folding is a great craft for kids as well as adults; it encourages them to use their imagination by making something special from a plain sheet of paper.

The abundance of origami paper available to you makes paper folding even more exciting! You can simply go for plain and let your folding do the talking, or you can opt for coloured, patterned and even metallic papers to add a bit of sparkle.

The art of paper folding: your guide to this fun and easy craft

What is paper folding art?

The art of paper folding is exactly what it says on the tin! You take sheets of paper and fold them using a specific method to create three-dimensional objects, models or games. It can benefit your mind by giving you a challenge and encouraging you to take screen breaks.

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There are a variety of skill levels when it comes to paper folding, from the basic folds of an origami cat to the complex folds of an origami dragon. If you are new to paper folding, it’s best to start with a simple project, to master the folding techniques. The more you practise, the more accurate your folds will become.

Paper folding isn't just for adults either, you can find plenty of easy origami ideas for kids. With a basic project, kids can enjoy the whole process from start to finish, which will hold their focus and motivate them to do more.

paper folding - dragon origami
Origami dragon

What paper for paper folding?

Part of the joy of paper folding is choosing beautiful origami paper to use in your creations. If you’ve ever dabbled in origami, you’ll know there is a whole plethora of paper out there; shiny, metallic, colourful, and even galaxy-themed!

When choosing a paper, it’s best to consider the type of project you want to try. If you’re making an animal, for example, you could opt for an animal-print paper to give it that extra flair. Whereas, if you are making a fortune teller, you will need to pick plain paper so that you are able to see your writing on it.

Origami paper is a special type of thin paper which is usually in a perfect square, this makes it easy to fold and the ideal starting point for most projects. We’ve rounded up our favourite origami papers and where to buy them if you are in need of some guidance!

21 paper folding ideas

Looking for a compelling paper folding project? Browse through our list of in-depth tutorials from origami animals to making your own paper kite!

Paper folding: The animal kingdom

The animal kingdom is an endless source of inspiration for us crafters! We find the beauty of nature in every craft we do here on Gathered, whether that’s a crochet cow or an embroidered octopus. We can take elements from each animal and use them to inspire our next project, and paper folding is no different.

Often when we think of origami, the first thing that comes to mind is the origami crane, it is a classic project for lovers of papercraft. So, we start our paper folding journey then, with our favourite animal-themed projects, suitable for a variety of skill levels.

1. Easy origami cat

Difficulty rating: Beginner

cat origami main

Grab your favourite spooky papers and give this origami cat a go! It’s the purrfect little companion for Halloween and makes a fun decoration. This cat is so easy too, it requires just two pieces of paper and your hands!

There’s a step-by-step video for you to follow inside the tutorial. If you’re a beginner, it can often be easier to watch somebody else do it. For those who want them, there are also written steps.

Our favourite thing about this origami cat is that it will also stand up! So you can perch him wherever you like in your home.

2. Cute origami owl

Difficulty rating: Beginner

Halloween origami, How to make an Origami Owl - patterned paper

What’s more lovable than a cute owl? Fold this fluffy little friend in just a few quick steps! You can follow along with our easy guide which contains illustrations so you know exactly where to fold!

Our lovely origami owl can be displayed at home or you could even use it as a bookmark.

3. The classic origami crane

Difficulty rating: Advanced beginner

How to make an origami crane

The crane is usually the first project that comes to mind when we think of origami! It’s a very traditional paper folding inspiration.

Historically, it was believed that if you folded a thousand origami cranes, your wish would come true. This is why cranes may have become such a strong symbol of origami over the years. If you want to read more about paper cranes you can find more info and a beautiful story over at Family Peace Centre.

Make a start on your thousand cranes with our origami crane tutorial, this project requires a few more steps than the others we’ve mentioned so far, but once you’ve got the hang of it, there’s no stopping you.

4. Origami dragon

Difficulty rating: Intermediate/advanced

paper folding - dragon origami

If you really want to dive into some more complex folding, try this magical origami dragon. You'll have a lot of steps to follow, but don't be discouraged: they're easy to understand and have helpful pictures too. We’d recommend mastering the origami crane before moving on to this project, that way you can work your way up and not feel too overwhelmed.

Once you’ve practised your origami dragon with plain paper and are feeling more confident, find your most mythical origami paper (we went for a metallic bronze, which looks a bit like dragon scales), and get folding.

5. Origami rabbit

Difficulty rating: Intermediate

origami rabbit

Make your own standing origami bunny with our tutorial! This bunny is simply the cutest, and he will rest anywhere you like. We can guarantee he won’t hop away.

This project is a challenging next step for advanced beginners who have a few paper folding projects under their belt. With 17 steps it might feel a bit intimidating, but trust us, it’s easier than it looks!

You’ll just need to decide on your origami paper. You can choose an Easter theme if you are making them for the occasion, or you can keep them simple, like we did, with dark blue paper and display them throughout the year.

Paper folding: Home and decor

Paper folding isn’t just for making charming animals, it’s practical too. These paper folding solutions will keep your home looking fresh and modern! Make yourself a new desk tidy, or create a beautiful bunting.

6. DIY desktop tidy

Difficulty rating: Beginner

paper folding - desk tidy

An organised space means an organised mind! That’s what they say, right? Well, whether you believe in that or not, a desk tidy is a great way to keep yourself organised at work or school.

This geometric desk tidy looks modern and stylish, but is super cheap and easy to make (no one will ever know!). Not strictly origami, this paper folding tutorial requires a few more tools like scissors and glue. We’ll walk you through step-by-step where these come in, it’s a quick and simple guide, and you’ll be able to whip one up in no time.

7. DIY clock tutorial

Difficulty rating: Advanced beginner / Intermediate

paper clock main

Paper folding really is versatile and this lovely DIY clock is a perfect example of that. Made from paper circles, this project is surprisingly simple to do.

Choose your favourite paper, one that complements your decor, and create your own bespoke clock in a few easy steps. Once you have finished with the folding portion, you can add numbers, buttons or any other decoration you like.

8. Paper box (Masu box)

Difficulty rating: Advanced beginner

origami box

An easy tutorial to create a quick origami box ideal for holding jewellery and other small gifts. All you need is one sheet of square paper.

9. How to make a paper cactus

Difficulty rating: Intermediate

paper folding cactus

These paper folded cacti are so sweet! You can either make them to display (they’re even easier to look after than a real cactus) or you can use them as quirky gift boxes, as we’ve done!

A die-cutting machine is helpful in this project, but you don’t have to have one to take it on, you’ll just be doing a bit more cutting by hand. Choose your brightest, boldest papers and get creative!

10. Book folding

Difficulty rating: Beginner

Heart free book folding pattern

It’s not quite paper folding in the traditional sense of the word, but it looks simply incredible! It makes for a perfectly unusual piece of home decor and is certainly a talking point.

If you have never heard of it, book folding is folding the pages of a book to create an image or word, a simple example would be folding the pages into a heart shape like the image above. Check out our favourite book folding patterns.

Paper folding skills

Do you want to put your paper folding skills to the test? Try building this origami paper box (it’s perfect for holding small gifts).

Paper folding: Games and puzzles

It’s not only pretty items that paper folding can create, there are a tonne of games and puzzles waiting to be discovered!

11. Make your own fortune teller

Difficulty rating: Beginner

what is a fortune teller?

There are so many things you can do with these nifty little creations. You can read fortunes, answer ‘yes or no’ questions, and even use them for fun challenges.

They’re easy to make, kids love them, and all you need is a sheet of square paper and a pen! Find out exactly how to make your paper fortune teller and what to write inside with our fun guide.

12.Make a paper aeroplane

Difficulty rating: Beginner

paper folding - plane

Take your paper folding to new heights! It’s the classic paper folding game to play with the kids.

Challenge them to create their own plane out of one sheet of paper and then whoever’s plane travels the farthest when thrown through the air wins!

Check out this fun tutorial to make the speediest of paper planes, from The Art of Manliness.

13. Make a jumping frog

Difficulty rating: Beginner

paper folding - frog

You might have seen a version of this in a Christmas cracker, but now it’s time to make your own! If you make a few of them, they are great fun to race. This cute tutorial from It’s Always Autumn, makes creating your own jumping frog easy! Choose your favourite paper colours and hop to it!

14. Make a butterfly

Difficulty rating: Beginner

paper folding - butterfly

Make a beautiful origami butterfly that can actually flap its wings! A brilliant project for kids to get them interested in wildlife, and using their imagination. This quick tutorial from Origami Way will show you in a few simple steps how to create your own flapping butterfly.

15. Make a paper dice

Difficulty rating: Advanced Beginner

paper folding - dice

By creating your own paper dice you’re opening the door to a multitude of games! Create your own four-sided dice with Cut and Keep’s easy tutorial which features a free template.

You don’t have to simply put numbers on your dice either, you could put funny challenges or games on each side. Roll if you dare!

Paper folding: Fun for the kids

Most of the projects that we’ve selected so far can be created by kids. But here are some kid-friendly paper folding projects if you want more!

All of these projects are suitable for beginners, but we’ve labelled ‘advanced beginner’ on those projects that might require some help from an adult!

16. How to make a paper kite

Difficulty rating: Advanced beginner

How to make a kite out of paper

The humble kite is a classic for a reason! Watching it float above you as the warm summer air breezes your face – it has a certain charm that’s for sure.

Now you can create your own kite out of paper with our simple tutorial. You’ll make everything from the body of the kite and even the tail with the little bows to trail behind it! The kids will love building and playing with this one.

17. Make a paper fan

Difficulty rating: Beginner

diy party decorations - fan

Make a cute paper fan that looks like a big flower with our simple video tutorial. These are really easy to make and can be adapted to suit your (or your little one’s) style.

We show you how to make a daisy fan, but feel free to mix up your colours and create different styles – it’s easy once you’ve got the basics.

18. Kid’s origami projects

Difficulty rating: Beginner

Easy origami for kids

If you want to stick purely to origami, and avoid cutting and glueing, then check out our round-up of kids origami projects. Jam-packed full of quick and easy projects to spark imaginations!

19. How to make paper snowflakes

Difficulty rating: Beginner – Intermediate (depending on design)

Of course, we couldn’t leave out this festive treat! Create your own paper snowflakes in a variety of styles, from easy to a little more complex depending on the age of the kids! We even have a video tutorial to follow along with, so you know exactly where to make your cuts and folds.

20. Make a paper hat

Difficulty rating: Beginner

paper folding - hat

We tip our cap to Origami Fun for their super easy and fully-illustrated guide to making a paper hat! This one is great for kids, they can create their own hats, dress up and play! It’s also fab if you’re in need of a last-minute fancy dress, Peter Pan anyone?

21. How to make a paper ring

Difficulty rating: Advanced beginner

Make this adorable paper ring complete with cat face! Impress friends and family with this simple paper folding tutorial! Make as many rings as you like in a variety of colours and give them away as a cute gift.

Paper folding: the craft for everyone!

Paper folding is a brilliant hobby for both kids and adults alike. It’s low-cost, it’s simple to pick up and you can get started right now! There’s a tonne of inspiration out there for choosing your next project, the sky's the limit!

What’s next in your paper folding journey?

Try your hand at this dream-like paper boat tutorial from Gathered. You’ll create your own boat and cloud mobile, ideal for hanging in a child's room.


Katie Dolan
Katie DolanDigital Assistant, Gathered

Katie Dolan edits our needlework sections, focusing on our embroidery and cross stitch articles, as well as making videos for our arts and crafts projects. Katie runs her jewellery business, Ophelia Jewellery Art, on Etsy, where she sells beautiful resin-pressed flower earrings. She has a wide range of craft interests including embroidery – she particularly loves all things pop culture and a less traditional approach – The Simpsons and Rick & Morty are among her favourites to embroider. She has recently completed a silversmith workshop and hopes to expand her jewellery business with these new skills. When she’s not crafting, she’s usually fuelling her Harry Potter addiction with a Sunday film marathon and a couple of butter beers!

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