Best Origami Paper

Updated September 2021
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Buying guide for best origami paper

Origami, the art of paper folding, is fascinating and fun. Long popular in Japan, it has gained a huge following worldwide. It’s a thrill to watch your first origami crane appear under your fingertips when you’ve folded the paper just right. As your skill increases, creating different shapes becomes easier, but there’s always a little challenge in every design, no matter how often you’ve created it.

Origami relies on paper that is precisely measured and cut. Many of the shapes cannot be successfully completed if the paper isn’t cut to the right dimensions. Fortunately, as origami has grown in popularity, finding perfectly cut origami paper squares has gotten easier. However, for those who are new to origami, selecting the best origami paper isn’t always intuitive. You might wonder if you should start with pricey heavyweight paper or lightweight, foil-lined paper. You might also wonder if there are alternate choices to the paper found in origami kits.

This buying guide provides the answers to these questions and more, so you’ll know exactly which origami paper to buy for your paper-folding projects.

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Origami is composed of two words: oru (to fold) and kami (paper).

Key considerations

When choosing origami paper, there are some key considerations to keep in mind that will help you get started and keep up your practice.

Availability: Beginners should look for origami paper that is regularly in stock so that more can be easily ordered.

Size and shape: The most common shape is a square measuring 15x15 centimeters. These dimensions work well for beginning and intermediate origami designs.

Weight (thickness): Origami paper’s weight is listed as GSM, which stands for grams per square meter.

Strength: Stronger origami paper can withstand repeated folding. It does not crease or break after just a few folds.

Memory: How well origami paper “remembers” a fold is essential to some shapes, such as the crane, where a crease is flattened and then re-folded later in the sequence to complete the shape.

Forgiveness: Can the paper erase or reverse a fold line? While not essential in all types of origami paper, it’s good to understand this characteristic for certain origami projects.

Deterioration: How quickly does the paper yellow and become brittle? Budget origami paper tends to age faster.

Origami folds consist of just two types: mountains (upward folds) and valleys (downward folds).

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Features

Color

Origami paper may have “one-sided color” or “two-sided color,” also known as “duo color.” One-sided color paper is white on one side with a solid color or pattern on the other side. Two-sided or duo color origami paper features the same color on both sides.

Paper type

There are three common types of origami paper: kami, foil, and kraft paper.

Kami: This is a good all-around paper suitable for beginning and intermediate artists. While it’s thin at around 63 GSM, it folds easily, holds creases well, and is widely available with lots of colors and patterns.

Foil: Typically super-thin at 50 GSM, this origami paper adds a metallic flash to creations. It’s easy to fold and holds creases well, making it a nice contrast paper to kami.

Kraft: This is the plain brown wrapping paper you may have seen on parcels in the mail. Origami hobbyists use it to practice new shapes and as art centerpieces. It can be folded easily, holds its shape well, and sells for an affordable price.

Specialty types of origami paper are also available. The characteristics of these papers make them a little harder to work with, but for experienced hobbyists and artists, they are must-haves. Let’s take a look at glassine, washi, chiyogami, and mulberry papers.

Glassine: Made from cellulose, this type of origami paper allows light to shine through its translucent material. It is thin and holds creases well, but it doesn’t tolerate mistakes, as reversing a mistaken fold can be very difficult.

Washi: Washi is a thick, richly textured paper that was once made by hand, though most brands today are machine-made. While it’s tougher to fold, the finished origami shapes are much more durable than those created using kami paper.

Chiyogami: Similar in weight and texture to washi, chiyogami is covered with traditional Japanese art or designs.

Mulberry: With its plant fibers visible to the naked eye, mulberry is another handmade paper that is exceptionally beautiful. Beginners should avoid it, though, because it is highly difficult to fold and sometimes must be pre-treated to soften it slightly.

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DID YOU KNOW?
Origami has been the focus of mathematical studies for well over a century and has been used to solve thorny mathematical equations.
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Accessories

Bone folder: Vencink Bone Folder Set
For perfectly straight, crisp fold lines, a bone folder will amp up your origami game faster than just about any other accessory.

Paper cutter: Fiskars SureCut Deluxe Paper Trimmer
This paper cutter trims papers of differing weights and finishes, making it suitable for cutting origami paper to your desired size.

Display: Truu Design Silver Hanging Photo Clips
Versatile and easy to hang, this photo mobile is a creative way to display all of those crane and unicorn figures you have perfected.

Paper storage: Strictly Origamic Paper Case and Box Organizer
With this handy case, you can store and sort multiple colors or types of origami paper and access them quickly.

Origami paper prices

Most origami paper is sold in packs of 50 to 100 sheets.

Inexpensive: Beginning origamists can find a huge variety of colors and patterns for $3 to $6, though size options are limited mainly to 6x6-inch squares.

Mid-range: For $7 to $14, novices and intermediates can find different paper sizes and more variety in paper weight.

Expensive: Specialty papers like washi, true chiyogami, foil, and glassine range from $15 to $35.

Store origami paper so that it is protected from dust, moisture, cookie crumbs, and dirty fingers.

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Tips

  • Always fold paper away from you.
  • Use a ruler and pen tip (with no ink) to gently score a crease before executing a fold.
  • A bone folder is a traditional way of scoring and folding accurately.
  • Wash and dry your hands before starting a paper-folding session.
  • If you are having trouble with a mountain fold, turn the paper over and fold it as a valley.
  • Errors tend to multiply quickly in origami; if you find yourself undoing and refolding, start over with a brand-new sheet.
  • Easy origami models can be made in 10 steps or less.
  • As you progress, you’ll learn to read origami diagrams, which will help you make more complex models.
  • An origami model can lose its shape over time as humidity, sunlight, and handling deteriorate the paper.
  • Thin but sturdy paper is best for beginners because it can be creased multiple times without breaking, and it holds its shape well.
origami paper3
Origami is a low-cost hobby with a beautiful payoff in intricate shapes that can be displayed on a shelf or windowsill.

FAQ

Q. What is the best way to store origami paper?

A. Store origami paper on a flat surface in a room with a comfortable temperature. Protect it by keeping it in its original packaging or in a box or paper tray. Many origamists sort their paper by color or pattern so they don’t have to hunt through the stack. Touching origami paper too often will leave an oily residue that changes the look and properties of the paper.

Q. Can origami paper be cut to a smaller size?

A. Yes, it can. Use a paper cutter to get a precise, straight cut, and cut just one sheet at a time. If you don’t have a paper cutter, use a ruler or another straight-edge object to measure, then cut the paper using a small, sharp blade.

Q. I’m a beginner, but I really want to try origami with beautiful handmade paper. Can I skip to an advanced paper?

A. If you aren’t concerned about price, trying origami shapes on harder-to-manipulate paper is just fine. You’ll learn about that paper’s texture and unique behaviors. Before shaping with expensive paper, however, you may want to practice with kraft or kami paper to better understand the folding technique.

 

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