Paper Folding Crafts

Woman with origami cube

For many people, paper folding crafts provide hours of relaxation and entertainment, as well as a welcome creative outlet. In fact, this hobby is so enjoyable that people all over the world have adopted it as part of their cultural heritage.

Early History of Paper Folding

The Chinese invented the process of pulp paper-making over 2,100 years ago, which is why it's no surprise that paper folding may also have originated in China. The ancient art of origami, usually thought of a Japanese paper craft, may actually have developed independently in several countries. Some experts believe that the Chinese may have begun folding paper during the first century, B.C.E. Other countries that have a paper folding history include Germany and Spain, as well as many regions in Africa.

Although Chinese and Japanese oral history indicates the art form may have been popular for centuries, the earliest known record of paper folding is from 1490. A folded paper boat, one of the simplest origami projects, appears in Tractatus de Sphaera Mundi, a document created by the Irish scholar Johannes de Sacrobosco.

In 1680, Japanese poet Ihara Saikaku described a dream featuring origami butterflies. Likely, this indicates that origami was already a very important part of Japanese culture.

Modern Paper Folding Crafts

Because paper folding developed in several areas of the world, there are actually many different methods for creating three-dimensional objects out of paper. Learn about a few of them, and try them out to determine which one you like the best. You may be surprised!

German Folded Paper Crafts

In Germany, paper folding is an important part of the national culture. In fact, 19th century German schoolchildren learned to fold paper as part of their school curriculum. At the time, Germans believed that folding paper gave children a hands-on method for learning mathematics.

One of the most popular German folded-paper craft projects is the three-dimensional star. This craft is made by folding strips of paper to create a beautiful multi-pointed star, which is traditionally used as a Christmas decoration. These resources will help you learn how to make a German paper star:

Chinese Folded Paper Crafts

The Chinese art of paper folding, called "zhe zhi," may be the world's oldest folding craft. More recently, Golden Venture folding, which is named after a group of Chinese detainees who perfect the art, has become extremely popular with crafters and origami enthusiasts. This type of paper folding uses modular units to create elaborate three-dimensional folded structures, such as pineapples, peacocks, and swans. These creations can use anywhere from 200 to several thousand individual folded pieces.

These websites offer instructions for paper crafts that utilize Golden Venture folding techniques:

Japanese Folded Paper Crafts

Perhaps the most famous of all paper folding culture, the Japanese have integrated this art into many parts of their lives. There are several types of Japanese paper folding, including traditional origami, Kirigami, and modular origami. Japanese folding craft project can range for the simple to the extremely complex, but there is sure to be a project that fits your skill level:

Dutch Folded Paper Crafts

The Dutch also have a version of traditional paper folding, called "iris folding." This type of folding craft may not appeal to some origami enthusiasts, since it uses tape and multiple pieces of paper. However, you'll be surprised at the many beautiful creations you can make with iris folding:


Soon after the invention of pulp-based paper, many cultures began to develop paper folding crafts. Many of these crafts are still around today, and it can be fun to try folding paper using these alternative techniques.

Paper Folding Crafts