How to Make an Origami Elephant

There are many origami elephants, but this one, created by Mr. Fumiaki Kawahata, is one of my all-time favorite origami animals! It’s one whose folding steps I memorized years ago at an origami convention in New York City.

Origami books by Mr Kawahata include*:

North American Animals in Origami (co-author together with John Montrol)
Wild Animals of the World (in Japanese, with excellent diagrams) 

The folding sequence for this particular elephant is a delight and the resulting figure has a delicious, lively three-dimensional quality to it. I promise that you will find yourself folding many of them for your friends and family.  And total strangers will quickly turn into friends when you hand them one of these origami elephants!

This elephant can be made with different types of paper

For the first practice, you can begin by using a square cut out of regular office paper.

Tant paper or onion skin paper are great paper choice to make this model. Here you will find instructions to color onion skin paper to use for this and many other origami models.

With permission from Mr. Fumiaki Kawahata, I’m pleased to share a video featuring a step- by-step demonstration of how to make his lovely elephant.

Tips and Suggestions to Make the Origami Elephant

  • Making this origami elephant requires some prior folding experience.
  • If you are a complete beginner in the art of folding paper try folding simpler models before attempting to make it.
  • To make your first elephant use a relatively large square (7 x 7 inches) of thin paper.
  • In the video, the elephant is folded with Kami paper, which is a thin and crisp paper specially design to make origami
  • Onion skin paper or any other paper can be colored following suggestions on this post.
  • To give volume to the origami elephant hold it by the tail at the end of the folding process and tuck the thick flap inside its body.
Kawahata-origami-elephant-3


Symbolism of the Elephant: Strength, remembrance, power, perseverance, good luck, wisdom

I  hope you enjoy this little elephant as much as I have. When you have practiced and folded a whole herd of elephants, try folding a miniature origami elephant like this one!

Kawahata-Elephant-small

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*Affiliate links disclosure: Read more

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130 thoughts on “How to Make an Origami Elephant”

  1. This elephant is adorable. Your directions were given at a wonderful pace and very clear. I was able to fold him first try.
    Now if I could only commit him to memory. I know all the little ones in my life will LOVE him. Thank you.

    Reply
  2. My son and I are doing 30 days of Origami this lockdown. This elephant was a little hard to fold but oh so cute and adorable! Thank you for adding some joy to this uncertain time!

    Reply
  3. Hello
    I thank you very much for your quickly answer. I would like to make the elephant now with this kami paper. Witch weight of the paper would you recommend me?
    Best regards

    Monika

    Reply
  4. Hello
    I like your video of the Elephant from Mr. Fumiaka Kawahata. Your description is very good to follow.
    I would like to know witch kind of paper you use for the violett elephant.

    Best regards

    Monika

    Reply
    • Hi Monika, the violet color elephant is made with a paper called “kami” which is a very thin and crisp commercial Japanese paper produced for origami.
      I hope this helps. Thank you for your visit!

      Reply
    • Good for you to try, Keiran. When we are beginning with origami, we need to try easier figures first. I suggest you build your skill by folding pieces like the ones you finde HERE, and then try this again. Don’t give up!

      Reply
  5. That was an excellent tutorial video, thank you Leyla! I was able to reproduce it exactly without a problem! And as you say, loved the result, it is really cute!!! <3

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  6. Wow! Excellent tutorial! Excellent pacing. I didn’t know if I could keep up or if my skills were good enough to do this, but I could! Had to back up a couple of times because I thought I knew what was coming and dashed ahead, but I have an elephant setting on my desk to decorate a baby gift for my elephant loving daughter-in-law. Again, Wow!

    Reply
  7. Hi! You mentioned getting the designer’s permission to post the tutorial. Could you explain that a little bit? Is there a trademark on the design? If I were to make the elephant and sell it, would I run into legal problems?

    Reply
  8. Thank you so much for this extremely easy tutorial! It looks harder than it is! Perfect for absolute beginners who want to impress their friends 😉 THANK YOU!!!

    Reply
  9. Hola Leyla Torres. Me ggusta mucho la manera en que intecractuas con tus lectores. Un gran abrazo. Estoy intentando nuevamente hacer el elefante. Mevesta costando. Pero se que vale la pena el resultado final. Saludos

    Reply
    • Hola Tefi. Te doy la bienvenida. Muy bien por intentar el elefante, que es algo complicado si eres principiante. Pero vale la pena probar pues así no te quede perfecto, vas a aprender bastante con intentarlo.

      Reply
  10. THANK YOU!!! Incredibly-clear instructions! SO happy; will practice for a beautiful cousin celebrating his 90th in July. He is a huge elephant advocate. Thank you, again!!!

    Reply
  11. This was amazing, your instructions are so clear, thank you! This was the first time I’ve ever tried origami, and it came out pretty much perfectly, so pleased :D

    Reply
  12. I have folded origami on and off for something like 13 years now, and I have to say – this elephant proved a tad difficult at points. I even had to pause and rewind the video a couple times to double check folds! But it is an amazing piece, with a lot of depth to it that you don’t see in a lot of origami. The 3D aspects really make it stand out as such a great, intricate piece. Crazy that it is just one square piece of paper! Thank you for sharing! :D

    Reply
  13. Merci beaucoup pour cette vidéo avec des explications vraiment très claires et faciles à réaliser. Je pratique l’origami depuis un certain temps. Et rares sont les vidéos aussi claires et généreuses dans les explications . Bonne continuation

    Reply
  14. Thank you. It worked with a 15x15cm paper just perfectly. I will try building an elephant mobile now. :-)

    Reply
  15. Wow! So easy with the many pre-folds and your outlining the specific folds. The only thing I have to work on is the definition of the front legs. Thanks again for your clear and beautiful instructions!

    Reply
  16. Impressed by the instruction which is very easy to understand! We can’t believe we’ve made these elephants by ourselves. Thanks!!

    Reply
  17. Leyla, thanks for the nice tutorial.
    Your video is well explained and perfect to follow, speed matches exactly, at least for me.

    The design is very nice. I like especially the definition of the front legs.

    Reply
  18. Best teacher ever!! I really admire you cause you need to have a veery good memory to remember all these steps…thank you for the cutest paper elephant!!

    Reply
  19. Thank you so much Leyla! My little boy asked me to make an origami elephant this evening. I have never made one before but remembered seeing this really sweet one on your website before so I gave it a go and now have a cute little elephant to show him in the morning!

    Reply
  20. Hello! Thank you so much for making these videos. I recently started making origami through your website. I made an elephant and he is so cute! Thanks again!

    Reply
  21. I made 4 of these elephants for my babies nursery, I love how nice and original they look. I wrote a post about them on my blog if you have a chance to have a look

    Reply
  22. Thank you so much for the video! I did an intranet search and thought that Mr. Kawahata’s elephant was the most life like. Your video was very clear and easy to follow – now my goal is to try and memorize the steps so that I can make a herd!

    Reply
  23. Thank you Leyla for your cute origami elephants! I love them. I made my very first elephant and it came out perfect with your tutorial.

    Reply
  24. Hola Leyla,
    muchas gracias por subir este vídeo del elefante de Fumiaki Kawahata. Es una figura muy hermosa y con un plegado que se disfruta muchísimo. Gracias también por tu web en general. Espero conocerte en directo alguna vez.
    Saludos,
    Coral

    Reply
  25. It is fantastic. I am elephant lover. Now I have possibility to prepare many paper elephants for my family and my friends; so to bring them a little bit of happiness. Thank you. Sonja

    Reply
  26. Dear Leyla
    Thank you for your excellent video tutorial of this appealing little elephant. yYour instructions are so clear and easy to follow. you are obviously an experienced and talented teacher.

    Reply
    • Thank you Cheryl. I am glad you had success in making the elephant. It is quite a lovely origami model, and I was very happy to have permission to teach it here!
      Please help us promoting this site by sharing the videos and links with your family and friends.

      Reply
  27. These are the cutest little elephants ever!!! I made several of them and thoroughly enjoyed it! I find your videos a pleasure to watch and very easy to learn from! Absolutely love your site!!! :)

    Reply
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  30. Leyla, I love your videos. I hope someday you sell them because I’m about to go on a vacation and will not have internet access, but would love to spend the time watching | learning | creating with your videos! Think about it!

    Reply
  31. I came across this tutorial on pinterest and found the little elephants totally adorable. I tried my first this morning, the second one is about to be folded. Thank you very much for the great video!
    Greetings,
    Britta

    Reply
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  33. Thank you for doing the video. You make it so easy to follow along. I have never been very good at animal origami, but folding along side your video made it so easy. I will now try it again with tant paper.

    Reply
  34. Hola leyla! Sabes que desde los 4:44 minutos en adelante el video se ve borroso, lo podrías revisar por favor? Ya que lo estaba esperando tanto!! Muchas gracias! Besos Patricia

    Reply
    • Lamento que veas borroso el video del elefante, pero no sé qué decirte, pues yo lo veo perfectamente en mi computador y otras personas han podido verlo completo y hacer el elefante. Algunas sugerencias:

        • revisa tu conexión al internet
        • prueba en otro computador
        • asegurarte de que tienes banda ancha
        • actualiza tu browser (si tienes internet explorer, lo más seguro es que no te funcione)

      De todas maneras te agradezco que me informes. Le preguntaré a otras personas a ver si tienen el mismo problema.

      Reply
  35. Hola leyla! Sabes que no puedo abrir el video! Bueno, te mando un beso enorme y mis felicitaciones por las cosas hermosas que haces!

    Reply
  36. Ufa. consegui depois do terceiro dia,me ensinaram que quando nao conseguimos, para onde estava e continua noutro dia,e assim um passo de cada vez.Como voce dizia paciencia.Obrigado bjos

    Reply
  37. Hellow Leyla!

    Last year I was in Bilbao for the Origami Spanish Convention and I met Mr Fumiaki Kawahata. He’s a marvelous person and he teached us how to make this lovely elephant. Since then, I have made lots of little elephants to offer to lots of people. And it’s like you say! Everyone seems to be so happy when I offer this cute Origami!
    Thank you very much to let us learn with your fantastic videos! I would like to make one elephant with the paper you suggest, but I don’t know where I can find the onion skin paper…I will try!
    Thank you Leyla!

    Reply
  38. Thank you for posting the video to make this very appealing elephant. I can’t wait to try it out!

    p.s., I just noticed your blog background. That’s neat! Did you draw it yourself?

    Reply
  39. Hi Leyla:

    This wonderful little model was like a symmetrical dance. Incredibly clever design as well as the sweetest elephant I have ever folded.

    Thank you to you, the best of teachers, as well as to the master creator: Fumiaki Kawahata. Brilliant!

    Best always,

    Rosemary

    Reply
  40. This is lovely and although I am a beginner I will practice and practice to learn how to make this sweet elephant. Thank you for your wonderful videos that make it all possible.

    Reply
  41. Maravilhoso! Não tenho como expressar a minha admiração por você e sua gentileza de nos ensinar coisas tão lindas! Te desejo tudo de bom! Obrigada!

    Reply

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