On her website, Happy Folding, Sara Adams published an excellent review of Onion Skin paper, written by Ilan Garibi and Gadi Vishne. The article describes in detail the properties of Onion Skin paper, also known as Bible paper, as used for origami, and shows photographs of models folded using it.
I have used Onion Skin paper and love it. To share my experiences regarding coloring this paper, I’m posting here an article I had written in 2008 for my previous blog, The Braid. In addition, below I feature a gallery of models I have folded using this paper.
Onion Skin paper is not actually made from onion it is similar to onion skin as it is white, translucent, and quite thin. (Here is an online source of Onion Skin paper.)
This paper is beautiful and a joy to fold. To add to the versatility of this material, I have also incorporated the following coloring technique:
- On one side of the paper I add color by stroking the paper with oil pastels (Caran D’Ache Neocolor wax oil). I then rub the pastel color into the paper using a cotton ball and a drop of turpentine or mineral spirits. The turpentine dissolves and dilutes the oil color, and the cotton ball allows for delicate manipulation. As I rub the now colored paper, the color is spread over the entire surface . The resulting layer of color is bright but not too uniform with a marbleized texture from the hand manipulation. (see photo of the coloring process). The hens in the photo above are an example of how this coloring looks.
- Since the paper is translucent, when turned over the color appears more subtle and more uniform than it does on the colored side. I have folded paper prepared in such a way so that the uncolored side is to the outside of the finished model as in the case of the elephants below (creation of Fumiaki Kawahata).
Onion Skin Paper vs. Tracing Paper
This picture shows the difference between one and the other. As can be seen, tracing paper is thinner and more translucent. Tissue paper (not pictured) is also translucent but definitely thinner than either onion skin or tracing paper.
Here is a related post on how to decorate Onion Skin paper to make butterflies.