HomeArt ArticlesArt for the Home - Kids and EducationPaper Art Reproductions: Learn Origami!

Paper Art Reproductions: Learn Origami!

Origami is the art of folding paper into decorative and functional sculptures, which can range from simple boxes to ornate pieces, like bonsai tree replicas. There are less than a dozen basic folds; however, once these are mastered they can be combined into much more intricate patterns resulting in 3-D figures. Although any paper can be used to make basic folds, delicate forms that require intricate folding must be made out of origami paper, which is traditionally called Washi. This is a very light weight paper that is typically made from the gampi tree, paper mulberry, rice, bamboo, wheat or hemp fibers. That being said, heavier paper does serve its purpose as long as it can hold a crease, and it can be transformed into beautiful wet-folded sculptures. Wet-folding is exactly what it sounds like – the paper is sculpted while wet and then allowed to dry so it can retain the form it was molded into. Additionally, foil can also be combined with paper to create beautiful decorative pieces, as well.

While early forms of origami did incorporate cutting the paper, the modern version that we recognize now does not allow the artist to cut or glue their sculpture. When the paper requires the use of either cuts or glue, it is considered a separate form of paper art called kirigami. However, some early origami texts may still include cutting in the instructions. With the exclusion of kirigami, there are five recognized forms of origami today. These include: modular origami, wet-folding, pureland origami, action origami, and origami tessellations. Of the five, wet-folding is particularly interesting because it allows the paper to be sculpted into softer, rounded shapes, as opposed to sharp angles and folds. Origami also has practical application in learning and teaching mathematics, which can be seen in mathematical and technical origami. In fact, many teachers use basic origami folding techniques to help their students learn the concepts of geometry, and the study of physics is always exploring ways to incorporate origami into science.

Although many people associate origami with Japan, the actual origin of the art is still under speculation because several different cultures are known to have incorporated the art into their traditions. For instance, paper art can be traced to European countries, like Italy, as far back as the 1400's as a practice that was independent of Japan's use of the art form. Paper art was also used in China during the Sung Dynasty (905-1125), while the first literary reference of an actual paper model being created in Japan can be found in a 1680 poem. However, the paper butterflies referenced in the poem were already at play in the Japanese culture during the Heian period (794-1185) as a representation of the bride and groom at their wedding. Now, especially in the United States, origami has blossomed into a very popular craft that both children and adults alike are interested in learning for pleasure and mathematical applications, and there are many comprehensive resources on the art found both on and offline.

Image: Courtesy of Wikipedia

Learning about Origami

The Origin and History of Origami

Important Origami Terms

Popular Origami Groups and Clubs

Diagrams and Instructions for Origami

Origami Techniques, Materials and Tools

Types of Origami

Mathematics and Technical Origami

Origami Lessons, Crafts and Activities for Educators

Origami Instructions for Kids

Origami Pictures and Art Galleries

Origami Museums and Displays

About the Author:
Clare Tames is a self-employed freelance graphic designer, formidable cook, and avid reader. She written on contemporary and classical art in various print publications, and is just now beginning a writing career online. She works out of her home office in California, where her two children attend high school. Expect more from her at ArtsHeaven.com and around the web, and, if you like, drop her a line at her Google+ page!

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