How to Remember the Steps to Make an Origami Model

We are having a blast in our course “The Joy of Origami”. Thanks to the magic and connectivity of the Internet people from many different parts of the world have joined the workshop including those representing Norway, Italy, South Africa, Uruguay and the United States.

One of the questions asked during our first meeting was “How do you remember the steps to make an origami model?” What a great question!

Three Useful Tips to Learn and Remember How to Fold an Origami Figure

The truth is I don’t easily remember the steps for everything I design or fold. But I do always try to remember and have found the following three tips particularly useful for both learning–and remembering–how to fold a particular origami model by heart:

Teach the model to someone soon after you’ve learned it; and continue to teach it as often as you can. The act of teaching will help you clarify the steps and commit the folding steps to memory.

Here is a way to take origami notes, so that you can remember the folding steps for models  learned from videos or  in person from someone else. This method has been particularly useful to me for remembering my own origami designs.

  • Take two pieces of paper to be folded.
  • Fold a model with one piece of paper without making any annotations on it. On the other piece of paper write down the numbered step sequence simultaneously while noting whether the folds are valley folds or mountain folds.
  • Take photos as well after each step and keep these stored for reference on a computer, tablet, phone, or cloud.

To get a better sense of my note-taking process take a look at the following video.

Another way to take notes is to work with several papers and make yourself a sequence of steps, such as the one presented in this photo.

Do you want to fold this fly? Click Here for the video on how to make a fly.

Do you have other ideas to make it easy to remember how to make an origami model?  Please share you thoughts  in a comment.


14 thoughts on “How to Remember the Steps to Make an Origami Model”

  1. These are great tips for helping to remember the folding steps. I see value in all three. Teaching it right away is a great idea. They say teaching is to learn it twice. Labeling a folded paper is so smart. Love this idea! The folded sequence is also good. It reminds me of a project I used to do with my art students. It was a visual communication class. I taught them to fold a traditional Masu box. They had to diagram the steps by drawing and writing directions with each step. Thank you so much for these ideas!

  2. When I teach, people are always surprised how I’m able to remember all the steps of various models. My approach is simply repetition. I try to take some time, a couple of days before filming a video for my YouTube channel especially, to fold a model multiple times in a row. My approach is to slowly add a model at a time to the list of models I know by heart. I repeat each model every now and then, maybe while waiting somewhere, to keep it fresh. When I’m stressed, repeating a known origami piece will calm me down. I also like to challenge myself by folding something with unusual material like candy wrappers or at an increasingly small size (baking paper is amazing for this!). I also fold using just my feet. With all these approaches, the repetitions are fun and beneficial in other ways and the understanding of the model is deepened over time.

  3. Thank you very much!
    I read my paper on ‘ Problem solving ability of the student’ in one of the conference in Pune, India.
    Can I send it to you?

  4. Thanks for the tips on remembering how to fold a model….Up to this point, if I don’t remember the fold sequence, I usually have to look it up, re-acquaint myself to the model, and do a practice folding.

    • Thank you Linda, that’s the purpose of having reference materials like books of videos. We can always go back to take a look and review. Taking notes is a great way to have those reference materials at hand in case we don’t have access to sources like books or videos.

  5. Brilliant!!!! Thank you!
    If only I could find my directions for a star!
    Keeping a notebook or having step folds is also helpful.
    My question is: how do you keep order with so many models? I use bins, large plastic food containers and cupboards (full).

    • I know what you mean Greta. I think of paper models as long-lasting flowers, but they do wilt. Occasionally, I go through my studio and clean out older or repeated models. I also put them in a basket and at Halloween we give them away to children that might come. I do keep notes and step folds though. Think of your smart phone camera as a friend. Step folds occupy no physical space when they are digital.


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