Origami Paper Dolls

Dana Hinders
Japanese paper dolls

They may be rather fragile, but it's hard to deny that origami paper dolls can be quite beautiful. They are also very versatile. Paper dolls can be toys for children to enjoy, part of your home décor, or accents for other craft projects.

Origami Dolls for Young Children to Make

Paper dolls have been around for many years and show no signs of disappearing anytime soon. Paper dolls make great toys for children because they encourage creativity. The process of making the doll allows a child to personalize the creation by adding special details to the hair and clothing through the use of crayons, markers, stickers, glitter, or accents such as buttons and yarn. Playing with the doll requires a child to make up a story or activity for the doll to enjoy. In comparison, the electronic toys you can find at a local toy store require very little independent thinking.

For very young children who want to learn how to make their own dolls, printable origami projects are often the best bet. These are projects that have all the decorations and folding instructions printed directly onto the piece of paper. You simply print the origami paper doll design on your computer, fold it, and enjoy playing with your new toy!

You can find printable origami dolls by visiting the following links:

Kirigami, a craft which involves cutting paper, can also be used to create dolls for children to enjoy. LoveToKnow Origami has a How to Make a Paper Doll Chain tutorial that explains this process in greater detail.

Origami Paper Dolls for Adults

While origami paper dolls are often thought of as simple children's toys, these dolls have many other uses as well. Grownup doll lovers can display their creations by taking advantage of the following creative ideas:

  • Frame a favorite doll in a shadowbox to make unique wall art
  • Attach dolls to the front of handmade greeting cards or party invitations
  • Use dolls to accent scrapbook pages
  • Tie dolls onto packages instead of using bows as gift accents
  • Use a doll as a bookmark

In Japan, origami paper dolls are sometimes used as an expression of mourning or to show sympathy for someone who has lost a loved one. Please review the LoveToKnow Origami article Origami Japanese Funeral Paper Dolls to learn more about this custom.

When Pigs Fly has a wonderful tutorial for making an origami kimono doll. To complete this project, you will need three different colors of origami paper, white cardstock, and black crepe paper. There is a bit of gluing involved in the project, but this is fairly typical when making origami dolls. In order to make the doll look realistic and be stable enough for a child to play with, most designs require cutting, gluing, or taping the paper at some point.

Kimono Reincarnate has instructions for making tall, thin Japanese paper dolls. This design seems especially well suited for use as a bookmark, although you could perform a play with the dolls by attaching a Popsicle stick or thin wooden dowel to the back side.

Some craft stores, as well as online retailers like Amazon.com, have origami doll making kits that include all of the instructions and supplies you need to start creating your own paper dolls. If you're a novice paper folder, this can be a very convenient option as the instructions you find online tend to be aimed at intermediate to advanced origami enthusiasts.

Origami Paper Dolls