Picture of Wall of Rainbow Koi

My friend saw a wall hanging of origami koi that she really liked, but the etsy shop that was selling it had it priced at over $1000. Thus, I set out to make this for her birthday/Christmas present, and after countless hours of folding while walking, an art that I have mastered, I finally finished the koi and attached them to the friend's bedroom wall.

UPDATE: Here's version 2.0 of this tutorial, complete with LED mood lighting.

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Step 1: Materials

  • origami paper (one square per koi you're making)
  • wire (not too thin; I used 20 gauge)
  • hot glue gun
  • tape
  • ruler
  • pliers
  • (optional): string

Step 2: Folding the koi

Picture of Folding the koi

For making the koi, designed by Sipho Mabona, I used an online diagram (whose link doesn't work anymore for some reason) and a stop-motion video of the folding process so have fun! It's pretty tricky, especially the swivel folds, but feel free to comment below if you have difficulties and I'll try to help. Fold as many as you want, but I folded 39 of them: 1 white, 2 bright yellow, 3 yellow-orange, 2 dark orange, 2 light orange, 7 red, 2 pink, 5 purple, 2 dark blue, 5 medium blue, 4 sky blue, 1 dark green, and 3 leaf green.

By the way, this link might help.

UPDATE: This is a link to a video tutorial for folding the koi; it'll make life a lot easier than following the stop-motion video. Thank you to DrGaf for bringing the video to my attention. ^^

Step 3: Folding tips

The fins are the trickiest part, and the stop motion video isn't too helpful on folding it so see the above pictures on tips for folding them.

Step 4: Wire mounts

To mount the koi on the wall, I needed to make wire connections for each fish. To do so, I used pliers to shape two triangles perpendicular to each other (see accompanying pictures).

Step 5: Arrangement

Picture of Arrangement
Rainbow Koi #2.jpg
On a flat surface, arrange your fish in the way you want them to look on your wall. Take a picture and save it or print it out for guidance when you actually attach the fish to the wall.

To be honest, even though I did this step, I ended up winging the design. And I like how everything turned out so skip this step if you want.

Step 6: Mounting

Time to attach the koi to the wall! Using your picture from the previous step as guidance, hot glue the smaller wire triangle to the back of your koi. Then tape the larger triangle to the wall. Rinse and repeat until all fish are attached as you like.

Step 7: Optional part

Picture of Optional part
If you're completely happy with what you have, great job; you're done! For me, I thought that the koi looked too restricted to one area and looked like it fit a perfect rectangle even though there was plenty more space next to it. This being so, I decided to outline that imaginary rectangle with dark green yarn (no blue available). I liked this result a lot better so do this If you think it would help.

But all in all, I hope you enjoyed my tutorial!
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BudFern5 months ago

When I download the PDF here it leaves out the folding instructions for some reason. Your finished work is very nice!

watchmeflyy (author)  BudFern5 months ago

Thanks for the heads up, and additional thanks for your appreciation!

job625987 months ago

What size origami paper did you use? I love this idea! I showed it to my 16 year old son, and he immediately said he wants to do a rainbow of them in his room! Can't wait to get started! Really awesome job! I'm sure your friend was thrilled!

watchmeflyy (author)  job625986 months ago

Ack sorry for the late reply. It was 3" by 3" paper. Thanks for your kind comments, and best of luck to your son!

RakhiB7 months ago

Great work!! I have been trying to get this done for my daughter's room since before she was born!! I unfortunately cannot do all the folds due to a problem with my hand. Since you were able to do it would you be interested in doing it again for me? I would remunerate you for your time and effort. Thanks, Rakhi

DiamondDuck9 months ago
DrGaf10 months ago
Fantastic posting. I haven't competed the project yet, in fact I first started it a number of months ago. Until a couple of days ago I couldn't figure out some of the folds in the video. I found another tutorial, and although it is titled "origami carp by Sipho Mabona" I believe that it is the same model as the stop-motion video. By using both tutorials I managed to figure it out. Watching this one is definitely worth a shot if you're struggling.
watchmeflyy (author)  DrGaf10 months ago

Ooh good luck and I hope you're having fun!

Thank you so much for the link! I'll add it to the tutorial so that others can more easily figure out how to fold the koi (or carp, I guess?).

Wow that's amazing I'm gunna do that all around my room, ur pretty cool :)
watchmeflyy (author)  You Tell Me1 year ago

Haha thanks for your comment, and I hope you have fun!

Hey, the video is difficult to understand, I'm sure most of the people here would greatly appreciate it if you took the time to make a step by step tutorial on how to make the koi! If not you, than someone else pleaseeee!
watchmeflyy (author)  bryanflynn131 year ago

Yes, I'm aware that the video isn't the best resource to find instructions, but the origami model isn't mine and I feel squeamish about creating a tutorial for something that's not mine and that lacks instructions elsewhere. Sorry! Just try your best and persevere; that's mostly what I did, and I'm pretty happy with my result.

Very well done wish i had some
watchmeflyy (author)  bubblebubble3001 year ago

Thank you! Even if you've never tried origami, I suggest attempting this project if you feel passionate enough about it -- your result will probably so pretty that it's worth all your sweat and effort. ^^

I have been trying for the past hour but for the life of me I cant get past :17 where it looks like a petal fold doubled on itself. no matter what size paper (been prating on plain printer paper) I cant seem to get it. Any hints?

watchmeflyy (author)  Spencer Jackson1 year ago

Hello! What you should have prior to folding this is roughly sketched in the first image (rectangle). Focus on the purple creases; these are the ones necessary for the "petal fold doubled on itself." If you unfold your paper like in the second image (square, colored side up), you should see these purple lines become triangular shapes. Green means mountain fold and brown means valley fold, in this picture, so fold your paper like that to collapse the paper with the petal folding. You should end up with something like the third image, light green being the larger/longer green lines from before, brown meaning the brown lines, and dark green meaning the smaller green lines from before (dark green also = dorsal fin). The last image, farthest right, is just a picture showing what the internal folds look like (dotted = hidden from view until you lift the first layer up to view the insides).
For a bit better visual, see the second picture on the top row for what you're trying to do with the valley and mountain folds.
I hope this helps!

Do you think it's possible to bend paper clips if I don't have any wire?
watchmeflyy (author)  bryanflynn131 year ago

Yes. As long as it will hold its shape and make the koi jut out from the wall, it will work. Good luck!

i guess that if varying lengths of wire would have been used, you could mount the koi at various distances from the wall, making it look as if they are swimming at different levels...
Also placing them in a ying-yang shape, would have looked awesome...
Also that is some Decent Folding effort.. Nice job...
watchmeflyy (author)  chaitanya.vedak1 year ago

Ooh that idea for differing lengths would look nice with origami ships so that they would look like waves are tossing them up and down. And I can definitely see the yin yang idea; perhaps one half blending red, orange, and yellow and the other half blending blue, green and purple. Thank you for the ideas!

You're Welcome..

LeoDread1 year ago
Hello watchmeflyy I just have one question: How did you make the fins on the dorsal?, as hard as I try to make them just by folding, my Koi does't get the same magic effect as yours, I'm working on this to give for a friend too! c:
Your work here is really a piece of art! :)
watchmeflyy (author)  LeoDread1 year ago

Hi! If you do the step at 0:19 - 0:22 of the stop motion video well (keep the two "fins" as close together as possible) you should have a nice-sized dorsal fin. Just keep practicing that; it takes time to get the hang of it (practice on scrap paper, perhaps?). As for folding the ridges of that fin, it's hard to explain but just fold the corner down a LITTLE BIT, then fold that whole thing back a LITTLE BIT (like accordion folding a fan), and repeat until you've finished the fin. Hope that helps, and I'm sure your friend will love your result. ^^

GrfxGawd1 year ago
You should add two paper art lilly pads and one Lotus bloom. :)
watchmeflyy (author)  GrfxGawd1 year ago
That would be a lovely idea. ^^
If you decide to add this, a suggestion. Two similar sized larger pads, one will host the bloom, and a third smaller pad. You have already created some negative space, exploit it to "balance" and frame your koi.
watchmeflyy (author)  GrfxGawd1 year ago
Those are great suggestions, but unless my friend decides to do this, I don't think I want to alter anything. If I do this project again in the future, I'd consider using the idea of additions to frame the art. Thanks!
It was sometimes a bad trait as a designer and wow do I practice it daily - quite often once a design is set in motion, it gets tweaked. Then the tweaks are tweaked. Then things start getting iterative. At some point you either manage to create something that isn't what you started, but may in fact be superior to your initial intended goals. Or it results in a never complete project, or you break it. Sometimes a lot of the latter two combined. I've spend several thousands of dollars now on a project that the materials are easily 1/3 the cost of retail for similar (or exactly the same) items, that when completed will be around 1/8 the cost of purchasing an commercial retail version. So, $500 to obtain what would cost $4500 to outright buy, if you could buy it off the shelf. Excellent value really. Until you factor in the costs of the tools, materials and supplies needed to achieve the result. You exercise both focus and thrift. i admire that. I have this thing that if I'm going to do something, it must be on par with or exceed global standards. I can honestly say its caused me to stifle an incalculable amount of creative undertakings that probably would have been pretty good. But for me, not good enough, so I never even start.
watchmeflyy (author)  GrfxGawd1 year ago
I like that too, when you begin a project but it evolves into a new creation after you tweak it to meet your personal preferences. Waiting until a project meets your standards is a good idea -- wouldn't want to be unhappy with the result, after all -- but I'd suggest keeping track of ideas in a notebook so that maybe one day, when inspiration strikes you, you might have the perfect way to finish that project. Then your creativity won't be wasted.
Ma'am seldom has greater wisdom been imparted. I have forgotten far more things I wanted to create, than ever have I created. You're kind of like a living muse that can fold paper and walk at the same time, aren't you? Why, I think you rock.
watchmeflyy (author)  GrfxGawd1 year ago

Aww shucks I'm sure you rock too. ^^

ventifact1 year ago
I think you need to have the permission of and give attribution to Sipho Mabona right up front.
She is only one of at least hundreds that have publicly posted they are following his video tutorial to make folded koi. She has given credit, linked to, and even attempted contact. Until she receives a cease and desist letter, she's certainly made good faith on her part.
watchmeflyy (author)  ventifact1 year ago
Thank you for the comment. I have sent Mr. Mabona a message asking for his permission, and I was careful only to post pictures of tips to guide people in following the video that he put on his website. Is there anything else you think I should do? I'm sorry if my tutorial in any way offends anyone, but I just wanted to share my project.
smattson11 year ago
~Great idea, thanks for the inspiration, my office wall needed a little something, so I recycled an issue of "Air & Space Smithsonian" to make some butterflies...
watchmeflyy (author)  smattson11 year ago
Nice job! I'm glad you found my project inspirational. Great idea of recycling an old magazine too.
marlis3211 year ago
Thanks for the great instructable! How did you get the fish to stay closed and not open at the back tail?
watchmeflyy (author)  marlis3211 year ago
Thanks for your comment! I broke the golden rule of origami and used glue; my tails just wouldn't stay closed. *sheepish shrug*
Dutchfreak1 year ago
Great inscrutable, making a product your self and saving 1000 dollar :D.
watchmeflyy (author)  Dutchfreak1 year ago
Thank you for your comment. ^^
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