One of the simplest, most entertaining, and least messy forms of paper craft is paper folding. This craft is known as origami in Japan, where it has been an art form for hundreds of years. The word itself, however, comes from two Chinese characters: ori, meaning "folding," and kami, meaning "paper."
There is a special paper you can buy for origami, but you can substitute other common papers you might have on hand. The traditional paper used for origami is brightly colored on one side and white on the other. Gift wrap often has a pattern or solid color on one side only, so it makes a nice pinch-hitter. It's great for origami because it makes a nice, crisp edge. And usually, the cheaper the wrap, the thinner the paper, and the crisper the edge. So look for inexpensive wrapping paper in discount stores and stock up! Also try shelf paper, brown wrapping paper, or newspaper (which works great for a folded paper hat). Even waxed paper is interesting for some projects.
With most origami projects you will need to begin with a square. The size of your square will depend on what you want the final project to look like and how manageable you want it to be.
To make a square out of any piece of paper, follow this simple procedure:
Fold the upper corner of the rectangle over and down until it meets the opposite edge.
Cut off the excess from the bottom so that the two bottom edges are even.
Unfold and you have a perfect square.
Origami is the ultimate traveling craft. No glue or scissors are needed-just paper squares and a hard surface to work on. It's also a great thing to do when confined in bed. Origami makes entertaining others or occupying yourself on a moment's notice a breeze, and it's always a big hit with small children. It should be required learning for all parents-to-be, baby-sitters, teachers, and grandparents!
The great escape artist and magician, Harry Houdini, was an avid paper folder and master of the craft. Other famous people who were into origami include Lewis Carroll, Leonardo da Vinci, and M.C. Escher. In the Orient, Spain, and Argentina, there are actually schools of origami and several countries have origami societies.
The paper cup project is one of several origami projects children enjoy, since they love containers to put things in.
Many other simple projects are included in Origami for Beginners: The Creative World of Paperfolding by Florence Temko.