The grandmaster of origami, Akira Yoshizawa, first created the technique of wet folding.
What makes it different from traditional paper folding?
Basically, you dampen the paper until it accepts folds, which can give your models a more realistic appearance, add a rounded quality, and allow it to appear malleable.
Wet folding creates special sculptures with gentle curves, which is perfect for animal models. It requires a thicker paper as well, that won’t tear if wet.
If you’re interested in learning this form of origami yourself, keep reading our guide on how to wet fold origami.
Wet Fold Origami
Wet folding is not difficult, but it will require practice. If you aren’t sure about this technique, just remember that:
- You will create strong origami that can be safely handled and won’t lose its shape over time, allowing the projects to last many years.
- There is no substitute for the beautiful appearance of this type of origami, so you can show off your skills.
Follow our guide and you’ll be creating unique, sturdier sculptures through a wet fold process in no time.
1. Use the right paper.
The first step in this wet fold technique is to make sure that you have the best origami paper, which is paper that has been sized. During the sizing process, a water-soluble adhesive is added to the paper, which bonds the paper fibers as they dry.
You want thick, strong, crisp paper for this origami technique. If you aren’t sure if your paper is right, dampen a sheet. If it becomes easier to manipulate, then it will probably work fine for this wet fold method.
Other options include thicker, denser papers such as:
- Watercolor Paper
- Wyndstone Marble Paper
Once you’ve selected the right paper, you can start practicing the origami patterns.
2. Practice folding the dry model first.
Make sure you are very familiar with the folding sequence because you will need to fold quickly while the paper is wet.
Start off with a simple fold that doesn’t use pointed corners or sharp creases, which will make the wet folding technique easier.
If you’re in need of a diagram, check out our database of free origami diagrams that are sure to inspire you on this adventure.
3. Use a spray bottle to wet the paper.
The paper must be damp, not dripping wet. It will take a trial and error process to figure out the right amount of water.
First, make sure there are no creases before moistening the paper, as they can tear easily during the process.
Next, spray the paper with a light mist about 1 foot away, then wipe the paper with a cloth to spread moisture evenly. Quickly repeat on the other side of the sheet, before it curls.
The paper should look slightly damp, not saturated with water. You should be able to feel it give less resistance, kind of like leather. If necessary, wait for the paper to dry a little bit, before moving onto folding.
Then you can cut the wet paper for the desired square, as the fibers will not expand any further.
4. Fold the model quickly, but softly.
Press down with your fingertips, not with fingernails. This may be different from traditional origami folding, but it will help prevent any tears in the origami.
To prevent strong creases, fold in the air, not on a table. The paper will be more difficult to handle, so there is extra emphasis on not making firm creases unless they are absolutely essential.
If the paper feels like it is starting to get dry and stiffen during the folding process, spray a little more water onto the paper as necessary.
Once you have created a crease, use the warmth of your fingertips to partially dry out that part of the paper to retain its shape. Consider using masking tape to reinforce weak areas of the paper to hold the paper in place until it dries, when it can then be peeled off.
Consider using masking tape to reinforce weak areas of the paper to hold the paper in place until it dries, when it can then be peeled off. This is especially helpful in areas where several creases meet, like in the back of your model.
5. Allow the model to dry completely.
Don’t fold, unfold, or refold any parts of the origami model once you are finished, to prevent damage.
The masking tape will also work to preserve the entire origami shape, which can be helpful if the model wants to unravel before it dries.
Other tools that can help keep the layers together and prevent any splaying include:
- Clothes Pins
If you’re really eager for your origami project to finish drying, a hot-air dryer may be used to quicken the drying process.
After the origami is dry, you can take the re-enforcement off, and the model will hold its shape for good.
6. Repeat until you get the statue look you desire.
The last step in the wet fold technique is to remember that wet folding will always be a trial and error process. Using water and thicker paper changes the origami technique, so don’t sweat it if you don’t succeed on your first try.
Repeat until you get the desired look and then show off all your hard work. It is a beautiful form of art that will last for many years.
If you need more inspiration, check out this article on Hoang Tien Quyet, and the beautiful masterpieces that he is creating through this wet folding technique. See as he creates animal sculptures that almost spring to life.
It’s astounding how realistic these living figures look, and what technical work must go into creating each origami piece.
As the artist says, “I like working with new and fresh ideas, and always try to breathe life and my personality into my models.”
So go on and go practice the art of wet fold origami, to breath fresh air into your own artwork and remember to contact or show us your beautiful projects down below.