Origami tools checklist


All you really need to make origami models is paper and your hands (plus love, if you’re a Beatles fan) but here are some tools that may enhance your folding experience. You can pick up these tools from most craft or art stores.

Folding tool. A folding tool is a small strip with a rounded edge, a bit like a short chopstick. Traditionally made from bone, now plastic or wooden folding tools are widely available for a few pounds. Use them to really flatten creases. Some folders love them, others are more disdainful, Make up your own mind!
Trimmer. An A3 rotary trimmer is perfect for preparing squares of the right size. Guillotine types are best for large sheets, but can be dangerous. If you decide to buy a trimmer, check that it cuts paper at right angles!
Paper storage. Okay, storage isn’t really a tool, but you need some means of storing paper to keep it flat and compact. Many suitable second-hand drawer units are out there, and you can use plastic wallets for smaller squares.
Model storage. When you’ve made a superb model, you have four main choices about what to do with it. You can give it away (the altruistic option), display it (but most houses only have so much shelf space), throw it away (gasp), or store it. Smaller cardboard boxes that have been used for packaging are usually free from supermarkets. Put tissue paper, scrunched-up newspaper, or even polystyrene ‘worms’ in the box and arrange your model inside so it can’t move about. The same applies in triplicate when you want to send origami through the post!
Cutting board and knife. The knife isn’t for cutting your models, but for preparing odd shaped paper, such as triangles or hexagons. Be very careful when cutting. I foolishly once cut on an old book resting on my knee, only to slide the knife off the end of the book and into my leg. Ouch.
Glue. What? This is origami – no glue allowed, surely? Actually, glue is generally considered acceptable to use when preparing a model for display. You want it to stay in place under potentially adverse conditions and glue helps. Some folders use wet-folding techniques with liquid glue when folding intricate designs. The end result is as permanent as can be.
Digital camera. A digital camera is perfect for making rough diagrams, keeping a gallery of your work, or capturing inspiring images from an exhibition. However, be aware that some folders don’t allow their work to be photographed of fear of piracy.
Paper clips. At times you’ll wish you had extra hands, especially when assembling modular designs. A few well-placed paper clips can be really useful.
Hammer. Sometimes layers of paper simply won’t lie flat. You can use a small hammer to encourage the paper to do as it’s told. Careful, now!

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