origami, myself, and i

Ah, it’s been a minute since I’ve taken a seat before a new post and wracked my brain for a suitable title. It’s been Pi Day, National Puppy Day, Easter, and Everything You Do is Right Day (?!), so before another kooky or totally traditional holiday passes us by (or before I lead y’all to believe I was ridden unconscious by Daylight Savings), I thought it was about time I make all of those photographing-editing-before-the-post-is-written things happen and get a-writin’ on here.

Now, this “minute” has been filled with many hours of folding multi-colored paper and, before that, waiting for these papers to arrive in the mail. If you thought origami, you have correctly decoded the title or speed-scrolled through the post to look at the photos first (coughmysister)—or you’re just psychic. I thought, for tinykale’s first gander into crafts, I’d start with one that required minimal and easily accessible materials. (For easily accessible materials, they took a good three days to arrive in the mail, with an impromptu trip on day 1.5 to Michaels because I felt way too unproductive, but I really wanted it to look nice, okay.)

Yes, yes, I succumbed to pretty patterns and multi-colored paper, but in truth, this can all be done at home, say, the next time you’re scrambling for a gift and realize it’s too late to order anything online. There’s just something so personal about it, and you can always add customizing touches (we’ll get to that later). And if you have your birthdays and special occasions all memorized and gifts prepared for, there are a million and one other possibilities. Invitations, notes, party favors, a colorful and creative touch to your stationary…Heck, soon you’ll be whipping out your paper whenever you’re bored, and I promise it’ll reap more long-lasting and pretty-to-look-at results than half an hour of scrolling Lil Bub’s Instagram (it’s okay, I do it, too.)

So, we’ve made it to paragraph four, and the stop babbling reminder is flashing, so let’s just go ahead and break this down.

★ – paper.

There are quite a few tutorials for you to create your own origami paper using only printer paper, a ruler, and scissors, but I’d only suggest that for emergency situations. Besides being a lot easier, picking up some origami paper at your local crafts store is more preferable overall because the paper is a bit thinner and more flexible than regular paper, so its texture really aids in the folding and creasing process (especially if there are a lot of small, intricate folds). The packaged ones at the store also come in perfect squares, and there are few things worse in origami than pieces of paper that are supposed to be square…and aren’t. You fold that first corner, and it’s not quite perfect, but you just continue. And all is well until that imperfect corner just comes haunting you once you come face-to-face with it a few steps down the road…This is all obviously from personal experience.

Under the umbrella of origami paper, there are a few kinds, and I tried out two this time:

  • There’s the classic kami (or koi) paper, which has that gloriously thin material and makes really crisp folds. The package I ordered has color on one side, and the other side is basically a faded, lighter version of the other, since the color comes through. The one I picked up at Michaels is double sided, and I used that for patterns that had both sides showing (like the cat, which you will see soon!)
  • Then there’s washi paper, which is made up of renewable fibers, which makes it stronger than ordinary printer paper. Basically, its texture is more like money than it is like printer paper because of the fibers.
  • I also used some lucky star strips to create, you guessed it, lucky stars, but it doesn’t really qualify as an official kind of paper. Rather, it feels like origami paper, if not thinner, cut into long rectangles.

While browsing Amazon for paper, I noticed some reviews saying that some manufacturers ending up producing some that weren’t exactly square. So, if you’re trying to fold your paper diagonally, and if it’s the case that one edge just won’t match no matter what, you could trim it down with a ruler and something sharp like an x-acto knife.


★ – tutorial.

Now, if you’re here reading my amateur origami-ing self babble, I’m assuming you don’t have these origami creation how-tos in your head. So, naturally, we turn to the interwebs, and as convenient as the printed tutorials that usually come with the paper are, there’s just an innumerable trove online, and I personally prefer watching + following over deciphering the little arrows and dotted lines. (I believe only two of the items I made were from image tutorials, but they weren’t too confusing!) Now, of all the videos I perused, there was one channel that I fell in love with: origamispirit (and that is probably reflected in the tutorials I liked because many are from her channel). Leyla Torres is like your cool grandma you’re super excited to visit because she always has gifts and candy. But instead of gifts and candy, they’re crazily intricate paper figures, and you’re left wondering if your grandmother is the paper fairy. And, yes, this is partly in truth because she mentions making her five grandchildren things, so let’s say the rest of that was realistic fiction…

Alright, but in actuality, I love her tutorials because they’re very high quality, and little things just make the video effortless to follow (like this little pointer thing that she uses instead of actually pointing with her finger because accuracy). I listen through a step, watch the demonstration, and then pause until I do the same. This goes for all tutorials, but I would ensure that I’ve heard the entire step before proceeding because sometimes there’s that little bit saying you should only do half a crease instead of a full one, but you already paused before hearing that part and then…You get the idea.

I’ve learned that with origami, all the folds end up having a purpose, so don’t be afraid to pause. Match up the edges instead of just messily squashing down a fold because, more times than not, it ends up showing up in the final product or making a later step harder to execute.

★ – diy ideas. ☺

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★ – dress // bow 

fashion baby hangers out of paper clips, and these dresses will make a colorful accent for any fashionista in your life. there’s also ample space on the back for perhaps a handwritten invitation! as for the bow, this was the only item that i had to use scissors for to make the two points at the ends of the ribbon.

tip: to make consistent lengths for the dresses, keep matching the approximate folds with your first dress. i think this is a very nice opportunity to use your patterned washi paper so you can see all the different layers; it also holds the pleats in the dresses very well.

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★ – puffy heart

super cute to hang on a bulletin or along your wall. gift it to your friend, and instead of rainbow, color it the colors of his/her college or favorite color(s)! these become easier and easier to fold once you get the hang of it, and their puffiness makes for a very nice 3-d effect.

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★ – lucky stars

put all your stars in a mason jar with layers of alternating colors, or just sprinkle them in a bag of party favors for a dainty touch! (no stubby nails were harmed in this process, though pinching those star corners was a trip…)

tip: this is super simple to form. make sure your edges are even and taunt, or else the corners of the stars become more difficult to pinch neatly and easily at the end.

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★ – cat box

this is for those lil bub lovers out there or for anyone who appreciates an adorable paper manifestation of a furry friend. you can probably swap out the cat for a puppy head (that sounds really wrong), which you can find here! it’s actually pretty sturdy, and it can hold anything from candy (gigantically sized jelly beans, in my case) to paper clips. i used the double sided kami for this because the other side of the paper is revealed where the snout part is.

tip: the size of the paper for the cat’s head is a quarter of the original size of paper used for the body, so to divide it neatly and also to ensure it stays perfectly square for the most part, i folded it in half horizontally and vertically very sharply so it formed quarters and then ran my x-acto knife along the crease. run your finger over the fold a few times to really set the fold, and the knife glides easily through to make a clean cut.

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★ – dachshund

hands down the most complex item i folded but also my favorite. pay attention, make those crisp lines, and the dachshund ends up looking so. cute. plus, it’s a slinky dog!! so it just ends up being totally worth the half hour of your day.

tip: i wanted to make an orangey/brown dachshund, and i didn’t have a paper with a darker color on the other side, so the nose ended up a little lost in the final pic, so you can totally use a dual-colored sheet of paper for this or just color in the nose with a marker! i would recommend kami because of its thinness, which lends itself to the many small folds, especially since i used a rather standard size (5.9 x 5.9 inches, i believe.) kami paper also forms crisper lines than washi. (the side profile of the dog, as you can see, has a lot of sharp edges.)


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★ – star box // love box // heart box

these are cute as heck desktop decorations and holds just as well as the cat box, if not better because it’s not standing on anything.

tip: i used washi paper for all of them except the star box, but they both held with equal durability. i saw the love box made with a solid red color, and that really made the heart pop, but unless you use a size of paper larger than 5.9 x 5.9 inches, i think washi is a nice option, especially when you get to folding the small (like. small. small.) hearts. kami might become weaker if you fold it a lot of times or if you have awkwardly clammy hands in making super intricate things situations…same.

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★ – party fortunes

the lucky stars were super easy to form, but this simply takes the cake for easiest. there are like three steps overall, and the end product looks adorable and polished. you could write little messages for a friend and throw them all in a jar for uplifting notes on a rainy day. and after it unwraps, there’s a beautiful wave design. there’s also another way you could incorporate these notes in a different design: the hen box! you can find that here.

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★ – double pyramid stand

this is for everyone who is having technology withdrawals from only having contact with paper for so long. now you can fashion a stand for your phone (i used washi for a sturdier hold, and it is definitely sturdy) and a smaller version for something like a business card.


★ – cat heart, flower, bunny, bow, swimming fish

the cat heart was totally supposed to have its own picture, but the sun was shiny especially bright in that one, so it just didn’t match. so! the cat head from the cat box is the same one for the cat heart, but the heart can very well go on its own, perhaps with an addition of a little note slipped between the two flaps.

the flower is pretty self explanatory; you can make it with smaller sizes of paper or paper printed with gradients, which makes the gradual fade from center of the flower to the petals. i bunched the bunny with this because it didn’t turn out the best, and i had the worst time trying to figure out the video. even the channel owner recognized the camera was bad quality, but there are many other videos for cute origami bunnies on youtube!

the bowtie has the same tutorial as the first bow i did in the very first picture because i’m apparently incompetent with scissors and messed up the ribbon part. so i ended up just snipping them off. these would be super cute on a father’s or mother’s day card, so here’s a tutorial for how to make an easy collar to complement the bowtie.

lastly, the fish looks good with a pattern on one side, so it kinda looks scaly, and it “swims!” the tail separates, so when you rub the two sides, it swims!


Ah, so there it is. This was just a wonderful experience dabbling into the art of origami, and now I shall feel accomplished looking at the plethora of paper goodies on my table. My six-year-old self who tried and failed at figuring out how to fold lucky stars is finally sated and settling back into her blanket fort with a stick of mozzarella cheese. Now, without transforming too much into a persuasive paper on the effects of modern-day technology on the contemporary human, I do have to say that in a world where stores are accessible at the touch of our fingertips, sometimes we may be so tunnel-visioned by colorful pictures and flash sales and overnight shipping that we don’t realize we possess the capacity for creativity and fashioning something like a gift far more personal than a factory-manufactured one ordered online. This whole experience in researching some of the origins of this art and trying it for myself was pretty inspiring, and I really suggest it because there’s nothing quite like holding a little miniature dachshund in your hand (and learning to spell the breed name correctly).

I’ll end with some bloopies aka exposing my cat for successfully interrupting my photoshoot (totally why this post took like three weeks). She was obviously also very jelly of the paper cats and curious about why I had a collection of perfectly edible jelly beans set aside.



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