Origami Pinwheel

Dana Hinders
After mastering basic origami folds, you'll be ready to make a paper pinwheel.

An origami pinwheel, often referred to as an origami windmill, is a great project for improving your paper folding skills.

The Appeal of Pinwheels

Crafters interested in developing their paper folding skills will find origami pinwheels to be a fun and versatile project. Uses for paper pinwheels include:

  • Use a pinwheel to entertain a child.
  • Make several pinwheels in various colors to decorate your home for spring.
  • Cluster pinwheels and silk flowers together to make a table centerpiece for a party.
  • Top cupcakes with tiny pinwheels.
  • Add a small pinwheel to a homemade greeting card or a scrapbook layout.
  • Punch a hole in the top of a tiny pinwheel and thread it onto a chain to make your own origami necklace.

Although pinwheels do not necessarily need to be made with origami paper, remember that you will be able to see both the front and the back of your paper when your project is finished. Origami paper will generally result in the most attractive looking pinwheel, because it usually has two different prints or a print and a coordinating solid color. If you don't have access to origami paper, double-sided scrapbook paper will be the best alternative.

How to Make an Origami Pinwheel

When making an origami pinwheel, keep in mind that traditional origami projects do not allow for paper cutting. While the Craft Ideas Web site has a very easy pinwheel project listed, it's not technically origami because you are cutting the paper in order to create the design. There is nothing wrong with this method of making a pinwheel; it's just not considered origami.

Directions for making origami pinwheels can be found in most basic origami reference books, although this project is most commonly listed as an origami windmill. You can also find origami pinwheel tutorials on the following Web sites:

  • Kids Web Japan is a great site for children interested in learning more about origami or adults who are in search of simple projects. Their tutorial explains how to make a butterfly, sailboat, and pinwheel by varying the same basic series of steps.
  • DLTK Kids has another basic origami pinwheel tutorial that's great for novice paper folders.
  • Tiny Shiny has a fairly detailed pinwheel tutorial, although the site does say this project is best suited for people with at least a basic understanding of origami.
  • How to Make an Origami Pinwheel provides a basic tutorial, but the directions may be a bit difficult to follow with no pictures.

If you'd prefer to watch a video demonstration of how to make a pinwheel, check out these helpful resources:

Pinwheel Variations

The pinwheel may seem like a basic design, but it's a project that lends itself to several different variations. Experimenting with these projects can be a great way to take your paper folding skills to the next level. For example:

  • Illuminations has a pinwheel project that's a bit different from the traditional child's toy, but a fun educational activity for teachers who would like to use origami as part of their classroom lesson plans.
  • Instructables has video instructions for a fancy pinwheel box that would make a great way to present candies, jewelry, or other small gifts.
Origami Pinwheel