Folded Paper Turkey

Dana Hinders
origami turkey

An origami turkey is an excellent Thanksgiving Day craft project. Paper turkeys can be used as creative centerpieces or place cards for your holiday meal.

Making a Simple Folded Turkey

You can make a basic origami turkey by making slight modifications to the traditional origami swan design.

This project requires the use of two pieces of paper. One sheet should be brown and the other sheet should be the color you have selected for your turkey's feathers. Unlike traditional origami, this design also requires a small cut in the paper and a bit of glue to hold the turkey's feathers in place.

Start with a square piece of brown origami paper. Place it in front of you in a diamond shape. Fold in half, from right corner to left corner. Open the paper back up. Fold the bottom right edge to the center line. Repeat this process with the other side. When completed, these folds create a kite shape. In origami, this is called a kite base form. It's a common structure that is used to begin many different types of projects.

origami turkey, step 1

Fold the left and right sides of the paper in to meet the center crease once more.

origami turkey, step 2

Turn the paper over, keeping the folds in place. Position the paper so the thinner side points up. Fold the top point down to meet the bottom point. Fold the top point back up about a quarter of the way. This will eventually become the turkey's head.

origami turkey, step 3

Pinch the head while folding the turkey in half. It should fold right in the center of the head. You will be folding it backwards, so that the head remains sticking out. Fold the very tip of the head down, at a 90-degree angle from the rest of the head. This creates the turkey wattle.

origami turkey, step 4

Fold the back point of the turkey back onto itself. Use scissors to cut a small slit about half an inch in length. Place the slit in the middle of the back of the turkey. Then, unfold the backside of the turkey again.

origami turkey, step 5

To form the tail, you will need to use your second sheet of square paper. Pleat it in an accordion fashion, folding it back and forth on itself. If desired, you can decorate the paper to add embellishments to your turkey's tail. This example uses stripes that were added with strips of patterned washi tape. Washi tape is a type of Japanese masking tape used in paper crafting. It can be found in most major craft stores. After the paper has been decorated and pleated, fold it in half and make a sharp crease.

origami turkey, step 6

Carefully insert the pleated paper through the slit made in the turkey body. This should be a tight fit to hold the tail in place. Use a glue stick to hold the center of the pleated paper together.

Open up the pleats in a fan shape. With a bit of careful placement, the pleats should sit upright to form the tail. This completes your origami turkey.

origami turkey, step 7

Origami Turkey Variation

This video tutorial shows another easy origami turkey project. It is also made using a kite base, but can be completed from just one sheet of paper.

Advanced Origami Turkey

If you're ready for more of a challenge, you can try making an origami turkey that uses two squares of paper that are the same color on both sides. This turkey was designed by Marcela Brina.

Making Special Holiday Memories

Origami is an excellent art form to enjoy during holiday gatherings because it can be practiced by people of all ages. Set out supplies for making origami turkeys when your guests arrive and let everyone have fun making a special Thanksgiving memory together.

Folded Paper Turkey