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The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Origami, Quilling and Paper Toys

The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Origami, Quilling and Paper Toys

Paper folding has been a part of culture since paper began. But, with a rich history in art, precision and beauty, traditional paper folding techniques can never be forgotten. Even the most basic origami folds still have their beauty, intricacy and purpose. And, the simplicity of using a piece of paper, makes it even more impactful to create. 

So, the team here at The Hobby Kraze simply couldn’t miss this famously artistic and mindful hobby off the list. With some lawless paper airplane races taking off in the office and some desks adorned with the odd crane, our team have all the know-how to bring you the ultimate beginner’s guide to origami, quilling and paper toys. 

Have a look at everything we’ll be covering in this ultimate guide:

  1. Paper Folding and the Beginner’s Guide to Origami, Quilling and Paper Toys
  2. The History of Paper and Paper Folding
  3. What is Origami?
    • Why Should You Craft Basic Origami Folds?
    • What Tools are Needed for Origami?
    • What Can You Make with Origami?
    • Entering a World of Traditional Paper Folding with Basic Origami Folds
  4. What is Quilling?
    • Why Should You Create Quilling Patterns for Beginners?
    • What Tools are Needed for Paper Quilling?
    • What Can You Make with Paper Quilling?
    • Paper Folding Step-by-Step into Beautiful Quilling Pieces
  5. What are Paper Toys?
    • Why Should You Construct Paper Toys?
    • What Tools are Needed to Create Paper Toys?
    • What Paper Toys Can You Make?
    • Starting to Fashion a Store of Paper Toys with Your Imagination

One of the best aspects of crafting with paper, traditional paper folding, and your imagination is its sustainability. Simply, it is an environmentally friendly practice. Especially if you find yourself immersed and enamoured with the hobby. Here at The Hobby Kraze, what we do best is finding hobbies for you to love, enjoy and share. And, when you love something, you can become an expert.

One of the newest trends among paper folding communities is sustainability, circular economy and recycling. So, instead of always buying new paper for your creative arts, think about using old newspapers, or notes with a dash of food colouring. In no time, not only will you be partaking in a traditional paper folding artform, you’ll be creating your own paper supplies, too.

Paper Folding and the Beginner’s Guide to Origami, Quilling and Paper Toys

Paper Folding and the Beginner’s Guide to Origami, Quilling and Paper Toys

In this ultimate guide we wanted to be able to bring you all the paper folding crafts in one place, so we’ve gone into the realm of origami, quilling and paper toys. Each is a sub-type of paper folding and each have their own purpose, enjoyment, supplies and instructions. In fact, many people decide to choose one of these creative hobbies and generate gifts or decorations with just the one paper folding step-by-step technique. 

So, when we talk about paper folding, we talk about all the ways that paper can be turned into something beautiful by using folds, turns and creative freedom. From a flower built by quilling patterns for beginners to a rabbit made with basic origami folds or even paper toys such as a seasonal Halloween Frankenstein made entirely out of paper folding step-by-step.

Luckily, as a hobby, it is cheap, easy and fun to do at home with people you love. Meaning this is the perfect past time to be incorporated in The Hobby Kraze’s ultimate collection as the beginner’s guide to origami, quilling and paper toys. Not only this, but it can make way for many other hobbies to come. For example; scrapbooking, card making, Christmas decoration creation and more. 

The History of Paper and Paper Folding

The History of Paper and Paper Folding

The earliest hint of what could be closely related to paper folding would come from the ancient Egyptian era. While many believe the origins of paper folding to stem from basic origami folds in the East, the Egyptians were ahead of the troop. 

What now sits in museums around the world are artifacts of papaya being folded and rolled into scrolls. These ancient scrolls are the first piece of evidence for nature being used as a writing tool in order to create hieroglyphs, architect designs and create maps. 

Paper was first invented and manufactured in China 105 A.D. And, while China were the pioneers of paper’s being and use for communication, it was a later migration of paper into Japan by Buddhists that would pave the way for paper being used as an artform. 

The first traditional paper folding origins stemmed from the creation of origami. Wherein the Japanese coined the hobby of orikata (a name to be changed to origami in 1880) with paper being folded into shapes and animals for ceremonial and religious reasons. However, it wasn’t until 1797 that this amazing multi-use paper was used to adorn the instructions for some basic origami folds in a book named Sembazuru Orikata. 

As time progressed, Japan’s new recreational paper folding step-by-step techniques travelled across the continents reaching places like Spain and Germany. During the 12th century, Spanish mathematicians would begin to use their equations to create precise folding for an artistic purpose named papiroflexia. Then, in the 16th century, we saw Germany taking on the folding of napkins for table presentation. All of this would turn into the paper toy building and creation exploration that we see today.

A final adaptation within this beginner’s guide to origami, quilling and paper toys would be the French adoption to using paper for artistic flair. When the French came onto the scene with paper crafts, they began to spin paper strips into filigree decoration for affordable and beautiful religious objects. And, just by using quilling patterns for beginners, stunning designs were adopted as a hobby into the UK. By the 18th century, quilling was even considered to be a ‘proper’ past-time for young women as taught throughout finishing school.

But, even with the adoption and migration of folding techniques through the ages, the Japanese traditional paper folding arts remain. To this day, ceremonies such as weddings have custom made origami statues and birds that are built to represent the bride and groom. For example; the integration of a female and male butterfly (whose tails differ) within the decorations for the big day.

What is Origami?

What is Origami
To begin with, we’ll go through everything there is to know about basic origami folds. As a historically founding hobby, it’s right the team here at The Hobby Kraze places it at the top of the list.

Origami is the art of using a piece of paper – initially a specific size or shape such as a square – and following a set of paper folding step-by-step instructions in order to make a three-dimensional object or animal. One of the most famous and basic origami folds is the crane, named by the Japanese; Orizuru.

In a traditional paper folding sense, the idea behind the crane was that it provides hope and healing to the creator. They even went as far as to believe that 1000 cranes would bring a person’s wishes to life. Hence an age-old tradition of folding 1000 paper cranes. But, don’t worry, you don’t have to do that just because you’re reading the beginner’s guide to origami, quilling and paper toys.
The beauty of an origami hobby is the freedom and creativity it can offer you.

Why Should You Craft Basic Origami Folds?

Origami, as mentioned has a history of providing symbolism such as hope and luck to the beholder. But, there are other reasons to taking up the hobby. For example; one of the best ways you can decorate an office (or, just your desk) be it at home or with the business, is by incorporating paper crafts of your favourite animal.

Paper is cheap, odourless, lightweight, recyclable, flexible, small and durable. Not only this, but they can be fantastic meaningful gifts to those you love or those that need to be cheered up for the day.
Here’s some of the other benefits you could experience by taking up a hobby with basic origami folds:

  • It is relaxing
  • It helps to keep dexterity
  • Being mindful helps to fight depression and anxiety
  • You can fold any type of paper
  • Origami can be done anywhere at anytime
  • It is a very cheap hobby to have
  • You only need one piece of equipment
  • You have creative freedom 
  • You can post and share creations with online communities
  • Teaching others can be a wholesome experience
  • It is not a weather-dependent hobby
  • You can decorate your home on a budget
  • They provide meaningful presents 
  • It is part-taking in a traditional paper folding experience
  • Paper is recyclable and sustainable 

What Tools are Needed for Origami?

As we’ve mentioned, one of the beautiful aspects to taking-up origami as a hobby is the sheer lack of tools needed for basic origami folds. In essence, all you need is the paper. However, precision technique, learning and accessory-building can sometimes take some extra equipment.
Here’s a small list of items that you could use to take your origami paper folding step-by-step hobby to the next level:

  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Coloured Paper
  • Clear PVA Glue
  • Keyring
  • Cutting Mat
  • Hole-Punch
  • Paper Folding Guide
  • Paint
  • Paintbrushes
  • Plastic Stand
  • The Internet
  • X-Acto Blade
  • Double-Sided Tape
  • Chopsticks to Curl
  • Bone Paper Folder
  • Paper Clips
  • A Scoring Tool
  • A Paper Storage Box

What Can You Make with Origami?

When it comes to origami, the world is your oyster. Even when it comes to size. While the most popular size is around keyring or accessory size, the largest origami crane to be made had an 82-metre wingspan. This crane was built as part of the Hiroshima University Peace Piece Project in 2009 and was even awarded with a Guinness World Record.

As this is the beginner’s guide to origami, quilling and paper toys, the team here at The Hobby Kraze will always suggest going for the basic origami folds, first. With the popular paper airplane or the traditional paper folding bird. However, we’ll also suggest thinking outside the box. 

Despite being a traditional hobby with meaning behind every fold and sculpture, we also like to see you think outside of the book when it comes to art and creativity. So, here’s a few ideas for you to try out with your first paper fold:

  • Crane
  • Spinning Top
  • Tulip Flower Gift
  • Wedding Mementos
  • Home Décor
  • Napkin Art
  • Greeting Cards
  • Business Cards
  • Envelope
  • Trinket Tray
  • Fan
  • Boat
  • Paper Plane
  • Phone Stand
  • Earrings
  • Containers

Entering a World of Traditional Paper Folding with Basic Origami Folds

Before moving onto the wonderfully spiral world of quilling, we wanted to walk you through paper folding step-by-step instructions. And, keeping within the aviary family of the crane, the team want to get you creating the simple yet traditional paper folding bird, today.

  • Step one: grab a square piece of paper.
  • Step two: fold one tip down to the opposite tip along the diagonal. You will be left with a right-angled triangle half the size of the original piece of paper. 
  • Step three: with the right-angle at the bottom and the straight diagonal at the top, fold the paper down one third. You should end up with an up-side-down boat shape. 
  • Step four: flip the paper over and take one of the tips. Fold it upwards, creating a crease around the middle of your previous fold. You should be left with a square on top of a thick line.
  • Step five: fold the paper in half down the vertical.
  • Step six: with the paper fold on the top, fold it back on itself, about half-way. Turn the paper and do the same to the other side. Your bird should be taking shape with your previously made square being the body and the thick line becoming the two wings.
  • Step seven: note the wings have a diagonal tip. The side of the bird where the end of the wing is at its lowest will become the head. Simply push the tip of the head-end body into itself. This should then resemble a bird’s head with a beak. And, you’re all done with your first basic origami folds.

What is Quilling?

What is Quilling

The French-origin of quilling brings a very swirly-concept of paper folding. The idea of quilling is to use long and thin strips of paper and circle it around itself. Then, after attaching the end of the strip of paper, the ‘swirl’ can be pinched and manipulated into a variety of shapes such as a bird’s foot, leaf, heart and so on. 

When you’ve created a multitude of artistic shapes and components, they can be attached onto a larger base to create a masterpiece. For example; a vase, a piece of paper, a canvas, a wall or even your fridge.

As a newer entry to the hobby of traditional paper folding, quilling patterns for beginners can be quite simple, colourful and easy to master. Not to mention, there’s often far fewer steps to follow. For example; the conventional crane used throughout Japanese culture to this day consists of over 50 individual steps, meaning it can be something for you to work towards on your traditional paper folding adventure.

Why Should You Create Quilling Patterns for Beginners?

Much like its origami predecessor, quilling shares many of the relaxing benefits. And, with it being a slightly easier hobby to take up, it reduces the level of frustration you could face as your fingers get used to creating small and precise paper folds. 

Using simple quilling patterns for beginners, you can create heart-felt and meaningful gifts, patterns and cards to give to those you love. Atop – of course – allowing you to experiment with new designs to take your fancy at an affordable rate. Have a look at some of the other benefits that a hobby in quilling can bring:

  • It is very cheap
  • You can create your own strips of quilling paper
  • You can create giant or small murals and mosaics of quilling 
  • Quilling patterns for beginner’s can be very quick and easy to master
  • You don’t need many tools 
  • You can create unique gifts and cards to present to friends or family
  • Quilling can be done alone or with those you love
  • Online communities can share ideas and artworks
  • No matter if it’s rain or shine, you can enjoy your hobby
  • It is very portable to do away from home
  • Using paper is sustainable and recyclable
  • You can buy pre-designed quilling sets

What Tools are Needed for Paper Quilling?

Just like origami, quilling doesn’t need many tools. In fact, aside from your long strips of paper, there’s really only one specific tool you’ll need to help you begin your paper swirling. This tool is called a quilling tool and is small, affordable and more than likely available at any local craft store such as Hobbycraft. 

A quilling tool is a small metal rod. At one end of the rod, there will be a plastic, metal or wooden handle. At the other end of the rod, it will split into a paper-thin ‘y’ shape, resembling a tuning fork. Have a look at the other tools you’ll find handy to enjoy your new quilling patterns for beginners:

  • Quilling paper
  • Quilling tool
  • PVA Glue
  • Canvas 
  • Guidebook
  • The Internet
  • Scissors
  • X-Acto Blade
  • Cutting Mat
  • Keyrings
  • Tweezers
  • Paper Clips
  • Ruler
  • Circle Sizer
  • Quilling Crimper
  • Glue Palette

What Can You Make with Paper Quilling?

Paper quilling is an embellishment craft that can be used to accessorize or create anything. From jewellery to a beautiful vase. Or, from a simple birthday card to a unique three-dimensional headpiece. 

One of the best things about filigree design and the art of quilling is when an artist like yourself can think outside the box. Here at The Hobby Kraze, we feel it’s important to enjoy your hobby and try to incorporate it to other aspects in your life. So, even if you can’t spare the time to enjoy the hobby on its own, you can still bask in its glory while completing other tasks. 

For example; if you are a busy-bee baker with lots of birthday cake orders in, try to think about ways quilling can uplift your cake decorating abilities. With decorating and garnishing foodstuffs such as fondant or gum paste, you can create all-manner of three-dimensional cake embellishment.

If you were to trim your fondant into strips, you can begin to quill shapes, allow them to harden and apply to the cake using gel or soft icing. 

Paper Folding Step-by-Step into Beautiful Quilling Pieces

The first thing to understand is that quilling creates one part of an overall piece. So, by using various quilling patterns for beginners, you can piece them together to make artistic orchids or swimmingly good fish. Luckily, the team here at The Hobby Kraze have got together ten of the most common shapes for you to practice, learn and find how you’ll like to piece together. 

The first step for any traditional paper folding technique in quilling is to load your quilling tool. Get a piece of your quilling paper and place the very end into the gap at the end of the tool.

Then, while supporting the end of the paper to prevent slipping, begin to coil the tool along the paper. You should be wrapping the paper around the tool. When you get to the end of the strip, you can either glue the end to itself to prevent uncoiling or glue an extra piece of quilling paper to continue the coil.

  • Coil

The coil is the first step to any quilling process. If the coil is very tight, it is called a closed coil. If you allow the coil to loosen in order to grow in size and visibly see each layer, it is called an open coil.

  • Marquis

After you have created your coil, use your thumb and index finger to ‘pinch’ an end of the coil. Flip the shape and do the same on the opposite side. You should be left having an oval with two points.

  • Teardrop

From your open coil, pinch one end to create a point. This is your first teardrop. You can then bend this point to any degree you’d like in order to create a paisley shape called a curved teardrop.

  • Slug

The slug involves a slightly curved teardrop. From here, you need to repeat the pinch and curve process on the opposite side of the quilled coil. Don’t forget to curl the pinch in the same direction as the other.

  • Square

From your open coil, lightly pinch a point. Then, lightly pinch the opposite side. You should have a very loose marquis. Then, in the paper folding step-by-step instructions, you should pinch a point half-way between each of the points you’ve already made. And, again do this on the opposite side. You should be left with a square of four equidistant tips.

  • Curved Square

From the coiled square, you’ll need to strengthen the tips and curve them. Each tip should then curve into the next instead of having a straight line.

  • Crescent

To create a crescent, you’ll need to start with a loose coil and pinch two sides of the coil. However, you’ll need the pinch to be close together on one side than the other. For example, pinching two points under the coil. This will create a dome on the top and a concave section in the short space between your fingers.

  • Shark Fin

From the crescent, simply pinch the centre of the dome on the long side between the two pinches. As you pinch the top, the other two pinches will rise to the side. And, instead of a concave base, it will straighten into a line.

  • Triangle

Much like with the square, you’ll need to begin with a loose coil and then lightly pinch three points on the coil of equal distance. This will create a small equilateral triangle with straight edges.

  • Arrowhead

Finally, take your loose coil and tightly pinch one area in order to create a teardrop. Then, instead of pinching the opposite end to the tip, you’ll need to push this into the middle. Grab the outside and strengthen the two new points to have formed. As you are pinching, it should look like a heart. When you continue to strengthen the points, it will turn into an arrowhead.

What are Paper Toys?

What are Paper Toys

By following some paper folding step-by-step instructions, you could be making anything from origami to a small three-dimensional Frankenstein character. The beauty about engaging in paper toys instead of origami or quilling is that they are often printable activities. And, they are a fantastic gateway for children to learn traditional paper folding.

Why Should You Construct Paper Toys?

As mentioned, paper toys are the perfect activity to bring children in and let the glue loose. Often, you can go onto a website and find pre-made model nets. These models will have a black and white drawing or outline of the finished piece (E.g. Big Ben) but they will also include flaps that are used to glue the three-dimensional structure into place. Then, they can be coloured, cut out and glued together with PVA glue. 

If something rips, tears or the colouring just isn’t right, you can simply print it again. But, as an adult going into the paper toys hobby, you are not constricted to building the design of pre-made nets. You can create your own. As long as each face of the net is covered and your key stage two maths skills are ready, you can create anything. 

In this ultimate beginner’s guide to origami, quilling and paper toys, the team have created a list of other benefits to taking up a hobby in making paper toys:

  • It is something enjoyed by all the family
  • You can create and craft with friends, family and young children
  • Your hobby is good for the environment
  • You can create decorations for your home for a small price
  • When you create, it will be unique
  • You need very few tools and equipment
  • You can incorporate this hobby with others such as scrapbooking
  • You can use traditional paper folding for paper toys anywhere
  • This is a hobby that is not weather dependent
  • Being active with your mind can help prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s
  • Being active with your fingers helps to prevent arthritis
  • Seeing paper toys come to life can release endorphins
  • It is a very relaxing hobby
  • You can relieve stress by creating

What Tools are Needed to Create Paper Toys?

Just like the beginner’s guide to origami, quilling and paper toys’ list for other paper folding hobbies, there are very few tools and equipment needed. And, while it may need one of two extras, the principles remain the same. Here’s a checklist that you can use to make sure you’ve got all the necessary tools to help you in your hobby adventure:

  • Paper
  • PVA Glue
  • Printer
  • Printer Ink
  • Internet Connection
  • Guidebook
  • Scissors
  • X-Acto Blade
  • Cutting Mat
  • Keyrings
  • Tweezers
  • Paper Clips
  • Ruler
  • Protractor
  • Calculator
  • Colouring Pens
  • Paper Clips
  • Pencil
  • Paint and Brushes
  • Glue Palette
  • Display Space
  • Bone Paper Folder

What Paper Toys Can You Make?

Paper toys can be anything ranging from flowers to buildings or from characters to vehicles. The sky is the limit. As long as you have an idea and some paper, by using traditional paper folding techniques and a dab of glue, you could be creating any three-dimensional paper toys you set your heart on. 

While it may be best to begin with printing or creating the net for a cube, you can grow from there. Think of this cube as a head and then add the body with smaller cuboids. Before you know it, you could have an Alice in Wonderland, Deadpool, Frankenstein or your Cat. 

However, using nets to create three-dimensional structures or characters are not the only thing you can do. For example; simple flowers can be made by cutting petals and wrapping them together around a wire stem. Which, is a great way to add an affordable and personal touch to the décor of an event such as a birthday, christening or wedding. 

Starting to Fashion a Store of Paper Toys with Your Imagination

To begin your hobby adventure with paper toys, you can go to your local craft store or find a book on websites such as Amazon for ideas and paper folding step-by-step instructions. These paper toy crafting kits can be a great gift on their own for little kids after a hobby in the paper folding world. With themed books dedicated to animals, architecture, monsters, cars and more, there’s always something to pin their attention. 

Here’s a list of shops in the UK where you can find paper toy crafting kits for all ages;

  • Hobbycraft
  • The Works
  • Amazon
  • Home Bargains
  • B&M
  • Etsy
  • The Range
  • Argos
  • The Gift Box
  • WHSmith
  • Transport Paper Models
  • Abe Books
  • Waterstones
  • Abakhan Fabrics
  • eBay
  • Fred Aldous

A final type of artistic paper folding for you to take a crack at would be book folding. By taking an old book or a book that is meaningful, you can fold each page in a particular way to create a symbol, image or word. This word is seen along with pages when the book closed and upright. Using folded book art, you can create just about anything for decoration or for a momentous gift to a loved one. 


And, that draws this beginner’s guide to origami, quilling and paper toys to an end. From understanding where this creative craft hobby has come from all the way to how you can follow paper folding step-by-step instructions to generate beautiful traditional paper folding artforms. 

Here at The Hobby Kraze, the team love to see you enjoying your new hobby. So, if you’ve mastered the 50-plus steps to the traditional Japanese origami crane, then don’t forget to share a picture on our social media. Alternatively, if you’re after another type of art and craft for your hobby time, check out our other ultimate guides.

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Lisa Hayden-Matthews

Lisa Hayden-Matthews

A bike rider, triathlon enthusiast, amateurish beach volleyball player and nature lover who has never lost a dare! I manage the overall Editorial section for the magazine here and occasionally chip in with my own nature photographs, when required.

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