Making Origami Puzzles

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的History of Origami

Four T Puzzle-Francesco Decio Origami, Origami Puzzles and Mechanical Puzzles share several similarities, not least in the fact many recreational mathematicians and metagrobologists enjoy the art and practice. Origami and especially wooden and mechanical puzzles can appear simple at first glance, however, they are often far more complex than they appear with unusual geometric relationships and pieces. They both require fine motor skills to fold and solve, and can to support and build skills involving spatial reasoning, sequencing, fractions, geometry, and more.

In Japanese, origami means to fold paper. And that is all there is to origami. There is no cutting, tapping, marking, or even glueing to it – just folding. Origami grew out of Japan, Europe, and China. Origami is a simple art form that can give rise to surprisingly complex art pieces and fun origami puzzles.

When was Origami Invented?

Cubicus-Mélisande-Origami Puzzle Paper itself is a Chinese invention. After the Chinese created paper in 105 AD in China, it took centuries before the invention made its way to Japan. Made by hand, the paper was originally a luxury item reserved for special occasions.

的Chinese first made paper out of tree bark, rags, fish nest, and hemp. Monks travelled to Korea and then Japan, taking their paper-making skills with them. The Japanese are credited with creating a higher quality of paper which made a better medium for origami.

Japanese paper folding was mainly a ceremonial art for religious occasions before it turned into a popular form of recreation during the Edo period. This was made possible by cheaper mass-produced paper.

It was in 17th Century Japan that Origami first became a popular art form. By the mid20th century, it was already a popular art form in different parts of the world. Today it is practised by artists practically everywhere in the world.1797 was a significant year in the development of the art of Origami because it was the year when Akisato Rito created the first origami guide which he calledSembazuru Orikata (thousand crane folding).

Jean-Baptiste Vincent-Soma Cube A more detailed guide came in 1845 when Adachi Kazuyuki published Kayaragusa. By then, it was still called Orikata. Gradually the name changed from Orikata to Origami. Orikata is a Japanese word for ‘folded shapes.’

Europeans too, lay claim to the ancient art of Origami. The Moors introduced a math-based system of folding to Europe through Spain and the Spaniards developed it into an art form they called ‘Pajarita/Papiroflexia’.Children in both Japan and Europe grew up learning paper folding. Even though China and Europe had early forms of paper folding, Japan is responsible for turning it into the sophisticated art form that is origami today.

From the 17th century, Origami was already popular in Japan and it spread to the whole world in the 20th Century. Today you will find origami artists anywhere in the world.

Soma Cube-Origami Puzzle Chinese handheld fans are an early form of origami. The fan was a flat surface which wearers used to cool themselves by waving it to bring about some cooling airflow. Hand-held fans are folded together and only opened when in use. Their shape fits into a section of a circle. We don’t know much about the development of the art of paper folding from before the 15th century. This is because there is little documentation from the ear. It is clear that the Chinese, too, practised some forms of paper folding art.

Were other Materials Used in Folding Arts?

Early folding art may have involved other materials apart from paper – such as leather or cloth. Europeans in particular valued folding of napkins and pleating clothes. None of these materials was as good as paper as a material. Paper quite obviously lends itself to folding better than either leather or cloth.

What is Paper Folding?

For millions of children around the world, paper folding is a form of play. For adults, it is an art form and for educators, it is a common tool used in instruction.Even though the Japanese who developed the art, it was a German man, Friedrich Froebel, who took origami to the world. Froebel was an educator who saw origami as a beneficial tool in education.

Tangram Puzzle-Origami Puzzle Froebel popularised teaching children basic folds to help them learn paper folding. These he called the ‘Folds of Life’. He applied the ‘Folds of Truth’ to teach simple principles of geometry. The ‘Folds of Beauty used more advanced folding techniques from hexagons, squares, and octagons to create complex art.

的se three types of Folds are all associated with Friedrich Froebel who believed that it was an excellent tool for education. And that is how little children across the world practice origami as part of their learning. A much loved Christmas craft, the Froebel Star, is named after Friedrich Froebel.

Origami Puzzle-Burr puzzle-Froy Froebel有效地把折纸。的Froebel Folds, as the three Folding techniques are now known, were taught in schools in Europe as well as Japan. This was in the late 19th Century, and the word Origami was then officially associated with the art of paper folding.Origami became entrenched in the first Waldorf school in Stuttgart, Germany where children were heavily involved in hands-on learning through activities like origami. But paper folding was not just taught in school, it was also employed as a tool of instruction for early 20th Century students of commercial design at the Bauhaus School of Design, who learned through origami.

Popular Origami Pieces

世界各地的孩子们知道如何让纸解放军nes or paper boats, but some designs come up all the time whether it is in children’s play or among adults who enjoy it as a hobby. Here are some:

Fortune Teller

School children love fortune tellers. They are easy to make and they are a versatile tool for children who have a vivid imagination and want to play with their peers. Fortune tellers are also incredibly versatile because you decide what you want to write on it to play fortune teller.


Paper fans are a favourite with both children and adults because they are relatively simple to make, attractive, and functional.


Origami lilies are not only simple to make but elegant. Lilies make great gifts or they could function as a décor item when you attach it to your pen. School teachers like to use lilies as a school project for children.


Cranes are a popular origami piece because they look rather elaborate without being too complicated. According to a popular Japanese legend, making 1,000 cranes might make your wish come true. In Japan, the crane symbolizes healing and hope in times of trouble.

Ninja Star

Ninja Stars are a popular school project because they make excellent playthings. They represent a weapon called ‘shuriken’ employed by ninjas. Kids can pretend to be a ninja by making ninja stars and play acting a fight with them.

Origami Brain Teaser Puzzles

Paper is such a great medium and as a material, its ability to fold also lends itself well to creating origami puzzles, whether they are for flat 2D puzzles such as Flexagons, Dissections, Tessellations, tiling patterns and Tangram puzzles or those made in 3D such as Origami Burrs, Origami 3D puzzle cubes, Origami Mazes and Puzzle Boxes. Origami puzzles are often created using a technique known as modular origami as it involves folding multiple numbers of one (or more than one) unit and then assembling them without using any glue, thread, etc. to create a larger and more complex origami puzzle.

Modular Origami-Yosegi-Puzzle Box-Neal Godse
Modular Origami-Yosegi-Puzzle Box-Neal Godse

Origami Japanese puzzle Box

Paper lends itself to making interactive structures, so why not an Origami Japanese Puzzle Box such as an Origami Cube?

Japanese Puzzle Boxes are a form of mechanical puzzle that is popular with artisans and talented craftsmen worldwide. Many designs are eagerly anticipated by passionate collectors worldwide and interestingly they play a popular an important role in Japanese legend, called the story of Urashima Taro, the fisher lad. The fisherman stops a group of children tormenting a tortoise and after setting it free is rewarded the following day by the tortoise who visits him in his boat. The tortoise takes the fisherman to visit Rin Gin, the Palace of the Dragon King of the Sea where he meets the Sea King’s daughter known as Otohime Sama.

FOLD Puzzles After three days, he began to miss his home, so as a token of her love the princess gives him the Tamate-Bako (Box of the Jewel Hand) fastened by red string and instructed him never to open it. When the fisherman returned home, he realised that three hundred years had passed. Everyone he knew and loved was gone. In despair and disobedience, he untied the red silk cord and opened the box, and a puff of smoke came out. He was instantly transformed into an old man, his beard long and white, and his back bent.

Origami Puzzle Books

的re have been several books on the subject of Origami puzzles, and these are some we have enjoyed reading.

杰罗姆Morin-Drouin歧管——折纸游戏。Based on the origami principle, the goal of Manifold is to fold the printed paper several times, so that eventually you will end up with a 4 × 4 square which is white on one side and black on the other. The Manifolds here are provided by The Incredible Company and are part of their Manifold game which contains a total of 100 puzzles. Click the images, download them, print them, and solve the puzzles.

的Paper Puzzle Book Making Origami Puzzles by Michael LaFosse. Kids will be challenged as they learn how to fold puzzle pieces in this origami step-by-step book. They will be challenged again as they figure out how to put together the puzzle pieces to finish each origami project. As kids successfully finish projects such as the octahedron puzzle and the framed puzzle, they will gain the confidence to tackle more difficult origami projects.

Foldology – Origami Puzzles, Fun Folding Brain Teasers for Teens & Adults. The book includes 100 individual puzzles, that start simple, and then they get more intricate and complex later on.

的Paper Puzzle Book All You Need is Paper! by authors Ilan Garibi, David Goodman and Yossi Elran.

Mick Guy –Origami Checkerboard Puzzlesshares examples of how to create some great checkerboard origami puzzles.

Mick Guy–Origami Checkerboard Puzzles Learning Mathematics With Origami by Tung Ken Lam and Sue Pope. This book draws on the authors’ substantial experience of using origami in UK classrooms and is designed to support you using origami when teaching mathematics. Origami is so much more than a fun “end of term” or enrichment activity: origami allows learners to explore important mathematical topics and solve problems. Topics include simple fractions; properties of 2D and 3D shapes; angles and angle relationships; origami puzzles, tessellations and tiling patterns.

Origami Puzzles Links

David Mitchell’s Origami Heaven

Michael LaFosse Origami-Resourceis also a great site to learn aspects of paper-folding and Origami Puzzles.


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Image Attribution:的cover picture of this blog post is © Barlaham Benítez Vargas “Froy”

All Origami Puzzles Images on this blog are copyright:

Soma Cube © Jean-Baptiste Vincent

Panorama box, with a “pajarita” pattern © Jean-Baptiste Vincent

Four T Puzzle © Francesco Decio
Cubicus © Mélisande (

4 T puzzle © Francesco Decio

Burr Puzzle © Barlaham Benítez Vargas “Froy”

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Dave Holt

Dave Holt is a metagrobologist based in England. He revels in the thrill of the aha! whether it is a mechanical puzzle, escape room or puzzle hunt.

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