Introduction: Expanding/collapsing Origami Bracelet

The bracelet was inspired by the pattern used in Yuri Shumakov's Dragon Egg. I liked the idea of making a bracelet that can expand and collapse to fit different wrist sizes, having had a lot of experience with the dreaded "it doesn't fit!" response. I reccommend that you fold the dragon egg first or at least watch this video tutorial.

This project is fun to fold, and maintains the "wow factor" of the dragon egg without the deformation that I've noticed the egg develops with time (and incessant playing!). It takes less time to make and, of course, is wearable!

Step 1: Materials


  • paper (I used a 7cm by 29.75cm rectangle. Begin your length with 28 cm, then each "unit" needs a 1.75cm square: to make your bracelet longer, add 1.75cm to the length. My dimensions make a 17x2 unit bracelet)
  • Mod Podge (for making closure, but feel free to use your own methods of closure)
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Paintbrush (for mod podge)
  • Pencil

Step 2: Precreasing, Precreasing Galore!

Okay, first: I began taking pictures before I noticed I was using the wrong size paper! The last picture has the correct dimensions.

If you added to the length of your bracelet, meausure that section off and crease as shown. Since I added one extra unit, I creased one 1.75 cm strip. If you have 2, you would crease again after another 1.75 cm.

You should now have a 28cm uncreased section and another section creased depending on your added length. Fold the 28cm section into 16 equal sections (by making it 28cm, you can just fold it in half, unfold, halve the new sections, etc). Then accordion fold the entire strip (including your added length) to halve each section. I ended up with 34 sections.

Fold the strip horizontally to make 8 rows (again, just fold in half, unfold, fold in half, etc).

Step 3: Begin Folding

Here's where I'll remind you about the video. The beginning is the same for this bracelet and the egg.I find it important to begin with the correct orientation, so I have detailed it here:

  1. Using your precreases, accordion fold the rows four times so that the last fold is a mountain fold.
  2. Accordion fold all the columns, beginning with a valley fold from the left.
  3. Flip the model over and lift one of the "flaps", which will straighten the paper.

Step 4: Begin the Real Tesselation

Unfold the lifted section so it is one layer thick. Make a mountain fold on the second crease. Use diagonal valley folds to hold the mountain. Repeat for the whole strip.

Step 5: Second Row

Hold the strip as shown. Reverse the first valley fold, bringing it through the pocket of paper. Flatten using diagonal valley folds. Continue this down the whole strip. When you have finished, you will not have a pocket of paper to fold next. Create one by folding the next row valley and the next mountain. The last 3 pictures show the model after this step.

Step 6: Third Row

Reverse the valleys and mountains as in the last step. The last 2 pictures show the model after this step.

Step 7: Make It Wrist Friendly

This step folds in raw edges and strengthens the edges of the bracelet.

Note how the last edge you folded sticks DOWN and the first sticks OUT. Reverse the folds of your first edge to stick down.

Now fold the extra row into the model. It will curve, just nestle the edge into existing creases. When you fold in the other edge it will straighten.

Step 8: Squeeze!

Take a moment, enjoy the fold, and squeeze/stretch it!

(this also defines creases)

Step 9: Closure (pt1)

I wanted to make a paper closure to go with a paper bracelet. I tried different types of closure with each of the two bracelets that I made. I will detail one method and include pictures of the other.

Cut a strip of paper that's as wide as your bracelet. It should be pretty long, unless you have thick paper. Fold a tab the width of your bracelet over. Apply Mod Podge to the tab (not the inside, as this will become a hole) and fold it over. Continue this process for the entire strip.When finished, cut the unruly edges off.

Step 10: Closure (pt2)

Now for the other side of the closure:

Cut a strip that's as wide as your bracelet. Fold over a tab that's a bit longer than the other closure piece on each side. Apply Mod Podge to the inside of the tab, fold down, and continue applying and folding until the strip runs out. This one should not have a hole in the middle. Trim the strip to be thin enough to fit inside the other piece. Fold over tabs as shown.

The last pictures show how this closure works.

Step 11: Closure (pt3)

Attach each closure piece to the bracelet with Mod Podge.

The last three pictures show the alternative closure. On one side is a flap with a tab on the end. The other side has a loop piece where the hole goes down the length, not the width. The flap goes inside the loop, and the tab prevents it from coming out.

Step 12: Finished

Sretch the bracelet out a bit and you're done!

I chose not to spray mine with sealer, although it would have made it more waterproof. I didn't want to sacrifice the flexibility of the piece. Perhaps there's paper out there that is slightly waterproof. Let me know about your ideas for closure and waterproofing!

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