In the practice of origami, I have learned to keep my eyes open to the possibilities and spirit of any paper that comes into my hands and I can recycle to fold origami models. According to the model we fold there will be papers that are more appropriate than others for each particular case.
The following is a list of found papers I have reused to fold the traditional flapping bird. All of them present different qualities. I evaluated them in terms of their colorfulness and the ease with which the resulting bird flaps.
- Paper from newsletters. These papers tend to be thick. The resulting birds don’t always flap easily, and they might tear, but can be colorful and bring different patterns and textures. You might want to try them for non-action models.
- Paper from glossy magazines (color pages). Use pages with advertisements, which are usually colorful. These papers are usually thin and the flapping action is acceptable.
- Paper from the back of business envelopes. Paper from envelopes is thick. Birds make from it don’t flap as easily, but they have nice and delicate patterns.
- Fruit wrapping papers. This paper is just like tissue, so it is not very firm, but the flapping action can be very good.
- Shoes and clothing wrapping papers. I have found great tissue-like paper inside shoe and clothing boxes. You can use it as it comes or sprinkle some color on them. Just as the previous one, it is not very firm, but the flapping action can be very good.
- Baking paper. Excellent paper to get the flapping action of this bird. In this case I added color to it.
- Paper from magazines. The black and white pages of text can be striking. These papers are usually thin and the flapping action is acceptable.
- Christmas gift wrapping papers. Save your Christmas wrapping papers of this year to fold birds or cranes as presents or ornaments for next year’s holiday. Gift wrap comes in different thicknesses, so each will give you a different flapping result. Experiment!
- Bread wrapping papers from bakeries. This is a sort of thin parchment paper similar but thinner than baking paper and it’s very firm. It is not too colorful, but it is resilient. In my experience this is the best to make flapping birds as they flap easily and there is no tearing of the paper with the first pull.
- Paper from outdated tourist maps. This paper can be thick and might tear, but it’s colorful and evocative.
- Paper from old notebooks. Note that the hand writing add to the pattern and texture of the paper, although it is rather thick and not easy to get it to flap.
- Paper from old yellow pages books. This paper is fragile, but colorful and the resulting flapping action is quite good.
I like to cut a 4-inch squares out of each piece of found paper.
Here is a video with on how to fold the flapping bird.
What kinds of paper have you found to re-use and make origami?
Share your experiences here!