Beginners will want to become familiar with the basic types of origami folds, bases and with some of the terms commonly used in origami directions. Origami is the ancient Japanese art of folding paper to create beautiful three-dimensional objects. The most familiar form may be the traditional paper airplane. A variety of folds are used to create everything from a hat to a star.
When choosing a book or source with directions it is often helpful if photographs of each step are included. Origami directions should be very specific about the type of fold, when the paper is creased and when the paper is unfolded. Special origami paper that is thinner than standard paper is available at many craft stores. Start by practicing some simple folds and bases.
Basic Origami Folds
There are 12 basic folds that should be practiced and mastered for origami. The easiest is the book fold where the paper is simply folded in half from left to right so it looks like a book. The cupboard fold builds on the book fold but requires a few more folds. The other folds include the inside reverse, outside reverse, petal, and squash fold. There are two more folds that have multiple names. The triangle fold is also called a shawl or diaper fold. This simple fold is a book fold done along the diagonal axis of the paper to create a triangle shape. The valley fold is also called a mountain fold in some directions. This is the simplest fold where the paper is folded in half then opened again. Once these basic folds are mastered try making a simple hat or sailboat.
Origami folds lead to origami bases. These combinations of folds create the basic shapes for more advanced origami. The bird base is used to create a crane or flapping bird. A boat base is used to create a table or photo frame origami. A kite base is easy to make and is used in a wide variety of origami models. A square base is used to make a frog, ninja star and star box. Mastering these basic bases will expand the number of origami models that can be made.
Origami terms such as axis, base, collapse and edge are common and would seem to be fairly obvious in their meaning. Other terms such as grafting and inflation may seem like familiar words but the origami meaning is completely different. Grafting is modifying a crease pattern and inflation is adding circles to a crease pattern so the directions become clear. An origami reference resource will be helpful until the terms specific to this art are learned. Choose a reference that has illustrations for each term whenever possible. Origami is an art that is better understood with visual cues.
Origami is an ancient and fascinating art that can be carried anywhere. The use of brightly colored paper will help create spectacular models. Once the basic folds, bases and terms are mastered more intricate models can be attempted. Like any other skill, practice is the key to mastery.