Origami is the Japanese art of paper folding, although many different materials may be used besides paper. In Japanese oru means “to fold” and kami means “paper.” Originally origami referred to the folding of documents, or certificates, which usually accompanied valuable objects such as swords or gifts. The word origami then also became used to refer to another kind of ceremonial folding “tsutsumi.” Origami as it is used today, as a recreational art, came into play at the end of the nineteenth century. It is said that the word was easier for children to write than some of the other words it had been called and that’s how it got its name. In the 1960’s it became popular in the U.S. The goal of this art is to create a kind of sculpture using geometric folds and crease patterns, preferably without the use of glue or scissors!
Although there are just a small number of different folds in origami, they can be combined in a variety of ways to make intricate designs. Generally, the design starts with a square sheet of paper. There is special paper designed for origami. Traditionally one side is white and the other side is colored, although now many different combinations of patterns and colors are used. Butterflies, cranes, flowers, stars – there are all kinds of wonderful designs that can be easily mastered!
Another interesting aspect of origami is the mathematics. This is a practice that has great importance in science. The Miura map fold, for example. Has been used to deploy large solar panel arrays for space satellites.
The Joy of Origami