Die Cut Paper Origami

Origami is interesting for its technique, but it can also be interesting for the paper used if you’re not just using conventional paper or origami paper. There is origami paper with prints, metallic shine, maybe even texture. However, tonight, I took things to a different level for myself by doing origami with die cut paper.

K&Company Die Cut Silhouette PaperWhat is die cut paper?

It’s paper with an intricate pattern cut into it by a die (cast). You certainly wouldn’t be able to do it well with scissors, and a knife would take you forever!

The paper I used was a foot square, made by K&Company in its Silhouettes line. It is nice and sturdy, which will help keep that die cut sharp. However, it’s also sturdy enough to have to crease hard and carefully to fold origami well, leaving me with sore fingertips after just two cranes!

I also wished the paper were the same colour on both sides, which it isn’t probably because the makers didn’t think to create it for origami. As well, the patterns were either asymmetric, or only directionally symmetric. The latter means the pattern runs in one direction so that if you folded the piece in half one way, the pattern would line up. However, if you folded it the other way, or on the diagonal, forget about it. The asymmetric pattern didn’t even have a mirror plane of symmetry. Perpendicular mirror planes of symmetry, implying two on the diagonals as well, would be nice because a lot of origami starts from a square and exploits its relatively high degree of symmetry. Also, if you were making animal origami, Mother Nature loves symmetry in her creations so you had better have some in yours to make highly symmetric creatures. Think of it that way.

That said, I would recommend this paper just for its size and sturdiness.

Folding

I’m sure I’ve folded over 1000 cranes in my lifetime, having learned almost four decades ago as a kid. I’m also sure this one took me the longest because of all the fine creasing I had to do with this paper. The fine die cut pattern meant there were always curly “ends” of the pattern sticking out past a fold line when everything else around it got grabbed and folded. They were small, and the sturdiness of the paper meant they took time to crease into place. Try to find a pattern without a lot of “loose ends” would be my advice. That means if you were an ant walking around on the pattern, you wouldn’t come to a lot of dead ends.

The pattern I chose had butterflies so they were like loops and rings. Some curves still stuck out and had to be creased in, but it was better than the teal one in the example picture above.

Line up your corners and edges. Then slowly press gently on the paper closer and closer to the fold crease, and crease, would be my advice for technique. Then crease more firmly, using nails if you feel were necessary. If you don’t take care of these ends and edges sticking out just past the fold crease, they could contribute to a messy looking edge, or get caught on things eventually and rip. The latter could make your creation a little less durable. though I’m not thinking you or whoever would be moving it around much.

Any fold going to the middle of a shape, line up the edge to be folded in just short of that middle crease. That’s because this paper is a tad thicker than regular origami paper so allow for that thickness required when the piece gets folded in the middle and all that paper needs somewhere to sit.

die cut origami paper craneResults

The result is shown at right. Please click to enlarge.

You can see the asymmetry in the pattern leaves a slightly messy look, even if interesting in its own way. Symmetry in the pattern won’t allow you to match things up perfectly unless the paper were much thinner, like die cut foil or regular origami paper thickness. The offset would be noticeable as slight imperfections whereas this asymmetric paper here isn’t even close to matching for overlapping patterns, so maybe it’s better that way. Nobody’s thinking it’d be a die cut crane where the pattern matches on all surfaces, if they just even took a glimpse at the asymmetry of the pattern.

Perhaps one day I’ll find that perfect die cut paper for something like this to make something akin to a die cut origami crane, rather than one from die cut paper. For now, though, this will do as I’ll get some more paper and try more over the holidays.

 

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