Origami is the Japanese art of paper folding. The word "origami" comes from the Japanese "ori," which means to fold, and "kami," which means paper.
To get started in origami, you only need two things: a square piece of paper, and folding instructions or diagrams. You can use any kind of paper, but paper specifically designed for origami has beautifully vibrant colors. Instructions and diagrams can be found in books and on the internet.
** Symbols **
Origami instructions use symbols to indicate how you should make your folds. Origami books will have keys, in the beginning, explaining the symbols. There may be some variation from one book or instruction sheet to another, but for the most part there are a set of standard symbols that all origami instructions use. Once you become familiar with the basic folds and the common symbols, you will be able to complete many different types of origami projects.
The following are some of the most commonly used symbols:
A dashed line represents a fold known as the valley fold. Fold the top of the paper towards you.
A dash-dot-dash line represents a fold known as the mountain fold. Fold the top of the paper away from you.
A single line arrow means that you should fold in the direction of the arrow.
A double line arrow means fold in the direction of the line, and then unfold.
A double-headed arrow is another symbol meaning fold and then unfold.
An arrow with a loop in the middle means turn the paper over.
** Technique **
The more precise your folds, the better your finished project will be.
Work on a hard, flat surface. When you start to make a fold, first do it loosely. Make sure all the appropriate edges and corners are lined up. Once you have the paper positioned exactly right, hold the paper taut, and move your thumbs along the paper toward the crease line until a crisp fold is formed. To make the fold even sharper, run your thumbnail along the edge of the fold.
** Make a cup **
Here is an easy project to get you started. Take a square piece of paper and place it on your work surface. If the paper is only colored on one side, turn the colored side down. Rotate the paper so that it forms a diamond, with a point at the top. Take the bottom point and lift it to meet the top point, and fold. You should now have a triangle with a straight edge at the bottom. Take the lower-right corner and fold it so that the point of the lower-right corner meets the middle of the edge of the opposite side of the triangle. Take the lower-left corner and fold it the same way. You should now have a figure that looks like a cup with a triangle on top of it. Take the top layer of paper from the triangle on top and fold it towards you so that the top point of the triangle meets the middle of the bottom edge of the figure. Turn the paper over and fold the remaining flap down in the same way, and your cup will be done!
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