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As someone whose adventures in paper art end at the aeroplane-that-nose-dives-1-metre-after-being-thrown, I was eager to try out this Origami gag. Origami (literally translated as ‘folding paper’) is a Japanese art form that started in the 17th centuary AD a bloody long time ago. As it also happens to be one day before the first pay day of the year, cue hobby that doesn’t cost a penny.

A better prepared person would have a variety of square sheets of paper in different colours, unlike me who spent the first 20 minutes cutting squares out of A4 sheets. It’s important that the paper isn’t too thick – as many shapes demand numerous folds on top of each other which get tricky with weightier paper – and not too thin as you need the creases to hold and the paper to support its structure.

Beginners

It’s important to master the basics before leaping ahead as there is a knack to handling some of the different folds needed. The best place to start would be with either a very simple T-shirt – very rarely, a rectangular sheet is used for this – or the more traditional and rewarding Flapping Bird. This site’s animated diagrams are easy to follow without the clutter of having to distinguish between a ‘petal fold’ and a ‘valley fold’.

The bird in particular also sets you up with the knowledge of how to fold a common base. In Origami most creations originate from a handful of base shapes. This handy Origami cheat sheet gives examples as well as introducing a few types of folds you might come across.

Next I moved on to a basic Butterfly, trying the medium of video as a learning device. This is handy as you can see a person going through the motions, and pause/go back if you missed a step. As I didn’t have coloured paper I used tin foil for this. The foil was problematic in its unwillingness to let go of a crease and less inclined to hold its shape than paper. This didn’t blow me away but smaller, colourful and en mass can be pretty.

Next I went for a Frog, which proved to be tricky as it was working from an advanced diagram and casually mentioned a ‘petal fold’. This fold alone took me 10 minutes to master thanks to Robert’s video help.

The frog (and an abandoned advanced butterfly, which now resides as a crumpled ball behind the couch) will give you insight into the challenges of this hobby. Not obvious at first, but patience, technique and discipline are needed in bucket-loads to become a good Origami-er. As such, I have to fess up that my frog only vaguely resembles the diagram as, after 35 minutes of folding and unfolding, I got the scissors out and ‘helped it along’.

It’s a good way to pass a Sunday afternoon – something you can do from the couch with a TV on in the background. But I think I’ll leave the more advanced patterns to those with a little more patience.

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