Kusudamas are modular origami models where multiple units are fit together to form a ball-like shape. The word “kusudama” literally means “Medicine Ball” when translated from Japanese. They were originally used for incense and potpourri which I guess is where the name comes from.

If you’re an origami purist then you make kusudamas without any sort of glue, tape or string to hold the units together. A lot of kusudama designs are made in such a way that all the pieces will fit together strongly and you won’t even need glue. However if you’re making a kusudama to display and you want to use a bit of tape or glue to make sure it doesn’t fall apart we won’t judge you.

You often see kusudamas hanging from a string and a lot of them have fancy tassels hanging from the bottom as well. Because kusudamas are made from multiple units you can use different coloured paper for some absolutely beautiful results and patterns.

Our first kusudama for this post is by Ekaterina Lukasheva who is definitely one of the top kusudama designers out there. It’s folded using some of Peter Keller’s excellent paper. There’s no glue, tape or anything like that here.

Caliope
Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/kusudama-me/26692101954/

Caliope, Designed and Folded by Ekaterina Lukasheva

Instructions not available

 

This is a very unique kusudama design because you don’t normally see this much detail on the faces of the shapes. It’s folded from 24 separate units and the designs are fantastic.

Sierpinski Triangles
Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/origamiru/26410136335/

Sierpinski Triangles, Designed and Folded by Andrey Ermakov

Instructions not available

 

Here’s an absolutely gorgeous kusudama. The colours of the paper you use have a huge impact.

Kusudama
Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/goorigami/32269581225/

Designed and Folded by Maria Sinayskaya

Basic instructions for the units are available here

 

Here’s another great little model that almost resembles a turtle.

Little Turtle
Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/92285150@N02/21246175303/

Little Turtle, Designed by Tomoko Fuse and Folded by Rainer Berg

Diagrams available in Unit Origami: Multidimensional Transformations

 

The red and silver colours in this design are awesome. This one is made from 30 individual units and there’s no glue or tape.

Kusudama
Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/kusudama-me/31127718824/

Designed and Folded by Ekaterina Lukasheva

Instructions not available

 

You don’t always have to use straight edges either. Lots of designs like this one curve the paper for an elegant look.

Maiko Var
Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/73033379@N07/30331907413/

Maiko var, Designed and Folded by Masha Athanasiadi

Instructions not available

 

A lot of kusudamas have a flowery look to them. This one is folded from 90 separate units!

Hoya Kusudama
Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ronatka/27153060324/

Hoya Kusudama, Designed and Folded by Natalia Romanenko

Tutorial available from kusudama.info

 

This next image is a great example of how you can take a basic design and make it much larger and more complex with more units. I also really like the metallic colours used here.

Karoo Kusudama
Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/goorigami/28184376862/

Karoo Kusudama, Designed and Folded by Maria Sinayskaya

Instructions not available

 

Here are two more flowery ones. I really like the green colours here.

Nerium and Tri-Blossom
Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/kusudama-me/28337337532/

Nerium and Tri-Blossom, Designed and Folded by Ekaterina Lukasheva

Diagrams available in Modular Origami Kaleidoscope

 

This one isn’t too complex but I really like the shapes here and also the colours. This one is made out of 12 units.

Kusudama
Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/goorigami/28328867855/

Designed and Folded by Maria Sinayskaya

Instructions not available

 

Here’s a very different looking kusudama with some interesting shapes and curls.

Inspiration
Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/16545592@N04/28542987032/

Inspiration, Designed and Folded by Christine Blasek

Instructions not available

 

Here’s another really pretty and kind of tasty looking one. It’s made out of 30 units and there’s no glue or tape used here. It’s also folded with regular Tant paper.

Curved
Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/kusudama-me/29483144925/

Curved, Designed and Folded by Ekaterina Lukasheva

Instructions not available

 

Here’s another great flowery looking kusudama. It almost reminds me of a cabbage… It’s folded from 30 7 cm x 7 cm squares of paper.

Flora
Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/73033379@N07/27983970961/

Flora, Designed and Folded by Masha Athanasiadi

Instructions not available

 

I really like designs that have holes in them kind of like what you see here. The colours are fantastic again too.

Kusudama
Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ronatka/28672651442/

Braganza Crown (variation), Designed and Folded by Natalia Romanenko

Instructions not available

 

Here’s a very pretty flowery looking kusudama.

Hortensia
Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/goorigami/28647642901/

Hortensia Kusudama, Designed and Folded by Maria Sinayskaya

Instructions not available

 

I really like the pattern here and how it looks when you use two colours for the paper. If every unit was the same colour it definitely wouldn’t have the same effect.

Kusudama
Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ronatka/28395971991/

Designed and Folded by Natalia Romanenko

Instructions not available

 

Here’s another absolutely beautiful looking kusudama. I really love the design and colours used here.

Sonobe
Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/goorigami/28505001272/

Designed and Folded by Maria Sinayskaya

Instructions not available

 

The colours here are very different from what we’ve seen so far. It almost reminds me of chocolate icing. The paper used here is regular kami paper that has been spray painted. Apparently the paper becomes silkier after being spray painted.

Erato
Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/kusudama-me/28866969652/

Erato, Designed and Folded by Ekaterina Lukasheva

Instructions not available

 

The blue and orange paper here really works well together.

No Name Kusudama
Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/73033379@N07/24992406612/

Designed and Folded by Masha Athanasiadi

Instructions not available

 

This next one is an excellent example of using paper with a simple pattern for a very nice look.

Polka Dot
Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ronatka/27299236564/

Designed and Folded by Natalia Romanenko

Instructions not available

 

I really like the colours used here, especially how they look quite faded. This one uses some of Peter Keller’s excellent paper.

Inspiration 2
Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/16545592@N04/28032644174/

Inspiration No. 2, Designed and Folded by Christine Blasek

Instructions not available

 

This one is a bit different and I quite like how the star parts stick out from the rest of the ball.

Sea Anemone
Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/73033379@N07/27114409584/

Sea Anemone, Designed and Folded by Masha Athanasiadi

Instructions available here

 

Here’s quite a girly looking kusudama.

Ariadne's Crown
Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ronatka/27722547954/

Ariadne’s Crown, Designed and Folded by Natalia Romanenko

Instructions not available

 

This is another very unique design. You don’t normally see frilly shapes like that. This totally looks like some kind of party decoration. This one is simply folded from regular blue and white printer paper.

Kusudama
Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/151564949@N03/31743290714/

Kusudama, Designed by Tomoko Fuse and Folded by Davide Stefania

Diagrams available in Floral Origami Globes

 

Here’s a really elegant looking gold and silver coloured kusudama.

Kusudama
Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/goorigami/28466676411/

Designed and Folded by Maria Sinayskaya

Instructions not available

 

This is another excellent example of how you can incorporate paper with a pattern on it into a kusudama design.

Braganza
Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ronatka/28452413970/

Braganza Crown, Designed and Folded by Natalia Romanenko

Instructions not available

 

Here’s a second variation of this design that uses triangles instead of pentagons.

Braganza Crown
Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ronatka/28467204310/

Braganza Crown, Designed and Folded by Natalia Romanenko

Instructions not available

 

Here’s another excellent flowery looking kusudama.

Kusudama
Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/73033379@N07/32041655503/

Designed and Folded by Masha Athanasiadi

Instructions not available

 

This next one took a bit of extra work to figure out a way to keep it assembled without using glue.

Aura
Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/kusudama-me/28706231310/

Aura, Designed and Folded by Ekaterina Lukasheva

Instructions not available

 

Here’s another excellent curly-looking design. With the red and gold paper here this would make an excellent Christmas decoration.

Kusudama
Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/73033379@N07/31446447306/

Designed and Folded by Masha Athanasiadi

Instructions not available

 

Our final kusudama for this post is by Natalia Romanenko. It’s made from 30 sheets of paper and there’s no glue or tape used here.

Kusudama
Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ronatka/28666706715/

Designed and Folded by Natalia Romanenko

Instructions not available

 

If you’d like to fold your own kusudamas usually they’re not too difficult. You really only need a little bit of origami experience.

Ekaterina Lukasheva is really one of the best kusudama designers out there and she has 3 excellent books that are definitely worth checking out:

Meenakshi Mukerji is another fantastic kusudama designer who also has several excellent books:

If you do end up folding any of your own kusudamas we’d love to see them. Feel free to share a photo in the comments or on any of our social media pages!