Origami is the art of paper folding. Traditionally it involves folding a square sheet of paper into a finished sculpture. The name comes from Japanese. “Ori” means folding and “Gami” means paper.
Paper folding is usually associated with Japan but many different cultures also developed the art. In China as far back as 905 A.D. people folded paper representations of gold nuggets that were burned at funerals. Europe also developed their own version of the art in the 17th and 18th centuries as well. They mostly focused on napkin folding instead of paper. Another version developed in the Middle East where they mainly focused on folding shapes and patterns.
Modern paper folding can be traced back to Japan in the 1860s when Japan opened their culture to the rest of the world and imported the German education system. The German style of paper folding was merged with the Japanese one. The new style prohibited cutting the paper and most models usually started with a square sheet of paper with a different colour on each side.
In the early 1900s people such as Akira Yoshizawa and Kosho Uchiyama began creating and recording models. Akira Yoshizawa developed more advanced techniques such as wet folding. He also developed an official diagramming system called the Yoshizawa–Randlett Diagramming System for recording folding instructions.
In the 1980s artists began exploring the mathematics behind paper folding. This combined with computers led to a sharp increase in the complexity of what could be folded. You’ll certainly see some pretty complex models when you look around this site! These wouldn’t be possible without advanced math and computer software.
The art doesn’t require any tools and you can use pretty much any kind of paper you can find. Most models do use a square sheet of paper though. Technically you’re not supposed to use any cuts or glue when you fold but don’t worry, we won’t judge you if you do.
There’s another art form called Kirigami which does involve cutting the paper. Kirigami is another Japanese word. “Kiri” means cutting and “Gami” again means paper. Our website doesn’t really focus on kirigami but if you search the Internet you’ll find all kinds of information about it.