Introduction: Happy BIRDSday! a Moving Message-hiding Origami-bird Greeting Card

As a student, I love being around people. Therefore many celebrations, birthday parties and other festivities come round every now and then, and most of the time I either don't have enough money left or don't want to be the tenth person bringing a pre-made card from a gift shop.

When I was a little child I learned how awesome animals, stuctures and 3d-shapes made with the origami-technique look and since then I love to bring origami-pieces for special people on special occacions.

What is this "Instructable" about?

I love movement, surprise and joy. However, most origami is static and besides the flapping crane and some moving fish I haven't found many instructions that could be transformed and let the "birthday-child" say impressed: "WOW! That is so astonishing! What an amazing birthday-card!"

Especially important is to have an origami piece, which doesn't have to be unfolded completely to reveal the message. As I like to hide messages in my origami, I have already experienced that most people don't want to destroy the "piece of art" - as they call it - and leave the message untouched. How boring! They will never find out, what I wish for them.

So I decided to come up with an origami-piece, which:

  • hides and delives a message
  • doesn't have to be destoyed
  • can be modified to personal needs
  • costs about nothing
  • is fun to make

Let me introduce: The flapping, money-carrying phoenix! Messages can be hidden in its wings and easily unfolded and put together again! It's really fun to make as well as to play around with!

Also: This is my first "Instructable", so please let me know, what and how to improve! ;)

Step 1: Set the Base

All you need is one square-sheet of paper, preferably origami paper, which is really nice to work with and don't rip as easily.

I will go through each step quickly. Detailed pictures for every step are provided. If you have any questions don't hestitate to ask! I would love to get feedback and help :)

  1. Fold along both diagonals so that the outer side is coloured
  2. Open the fold again
  3. Fold two sides of the square to meet the middle-diagonal-crease from before
  4. Open again and repeat on the other two sides
  5. Open those again and you will see crossed crease-lines
  6. Fold two sides to the diagonal.Both meet in the middle, a little paper is left.
  7. Fold the extra-paper to one side, making an overlapping triangle
  8. Repeat on with the other two sides
  9. Put one triangle to the left, the other to the right. Take the left triangle and fold it in half, so that the closed mountain-crease aligns with the middle-crease.
  10. Fold it down. Repeat with the other triangle, just in the opposite way.
  11. Two half-triangles should be formed.

Perfect! Now let's move on to the core-part.

Step 2: Core-Work

Cool! Now we will fold out basic-shape multiple times to give it the ability to display and hide written messages in the end.

  1. Fold that deltoid in half.
  2. According to the height of the half-folded triangles, fold down both sides one time.
  3. From above it should look like mountain - valley with two half-triangles - mountain.
  4. Choose one side and fold it up - down - up again in alignment with the middle fold.
  5. Open your "accordion" again.
  6. Carefully open one of the deltoid-halves and slide the tip of the opposite triangle beneath it.
  7. Repeat on the other side and smooth out everything again (no picture for smoothening)
  8. Fold the tail together again and flip your whole art-piece around!

Well done! Let's bring it "to the head"!

Step 3: A Complex System - Our Bird's Head

The next steps will be funny but still a bit challenging. The solution is very elegant and the most impressive way I had come up with. The pictures explain everything really well in my opinion - if you follow along carefully, you should have no problem. And if you don't meet the exact proportions your bird will probably turn out fine, just with an a bit larger or smaller head - my first ones went like that as well!

  1. We will work on the side with less creases.
  2. Add one up-down-fold but take care to make the amplitude only about half the height of the original folds.
  3. Fold it up above the bottom of the original folds again.
  4. From the top it should be: flat - small mountain - valley - big mountain - valley - big mountain - valley - big mountain - decreasing plane
  5. Put all of this creases together, so that the long, flat, front part is the lowest and the little tail the most upper part.
  6. Fold in half.
  7. Open it again and fold two valley-creases from the small-mountain-fop edges to about the quarters of the first-premade-crease.
  8. Let the tip unfolded.
  9. Now balance those creases with two more valley-creases to about one third of the left, aligning deltoid sides so two little lugs will be formed.
  10. Unfold again and spot the triangle-pattern we established by folding.
  11. Now we add another triangle: From both tips of the triangles from 10. we make a mountain fold to the midline. They should meet at one point. The location of the point doesn't matter that much, but it shouldn't be far from half the distance.
  12. Make a crease which connects the left triangle tip from 10. and the meeting point of 11. .
  13. Fold the upper half down.
  14. Copy step 13. for the other side.

Almost done! We just have to model the head and the tail!

Step 4: I'm in Love With the Shape of You...

Now all the important mountain- and valley- and top- and side- and whatever creases are made! Congratulations! Let's move on to the fun part: carefully giving our piece of paper a three-dimensional-structure and shaping the edges!

  1. Push your "accordion" together again.
  2. Open all the head-folds.
  3. Carefully fold your model in the middle (little tail has to be on top of the "accordion"). The head-part should align itself. Our center-triangle should keep the "head up" from the base in front of the mountain fold.
  4. From the side we can see that our triangle folds support the wings. The head-part has been folded in half.
  5. Make an up-crease at the tip of the center-triangle and fold the up-facing front parts around on both sides to hide the head-structure.
  6. It should look a little bit like a half of an origami-boat.
  7. Repeat the process of folding two sides around the already established structure but downwards to give our phoenix a head.

And now to the end of the story... The tail of our fantasy-bird!

Step 5: Let's Not Turn Tail!

The last important step to make our bird an actual bird with a proper tail.

  1. Therefore unfold the last mountain we made back at the beginning and elongate the right side.
  2. Fold your bird in half again. Stop here, if the bird seems perfect enough.
  3. Otherwise bisect each tail-part by folding the upper creases down to align with the middle-center-crease.
  4. The middle part between the wings will fold a little bit on its own.
  5. Try to make it as flat, symmetric and smooth as possible.
  6. Join the two tail-parts together again.

Our origami-piece is finished! Doesn't it look elegant and light? What would you improve?

Step 6: Hide Your Secret Message!

Our bird is ready to fly away - or almost ready. The most important thing is still missing: Your message for your special person. So this part is really fun: Carefully pull on the head and the tail and the phoenix should unfold in no matter of time. Write your message on the "accordion"-wing-structure and push head and tail together afterwards again

You have done a really great job! Now your celebration-card is ready to set all heart on fire (it's a phoenix) and make all creative origami-loving girls fly away. ;)

Step 7: An Additional Feature: Make Your Bird OUTSTANDING!

Your bird will probably give a good impression just by lying around. However, you can attain an extra-WOW-feature by pressing both outer lugs at the bottom of the head-stucture carefully away from the middle crease. Your phoenix will be able to stand up straight (blue bird is able to stand, violet bird isn't modified), when putting it on a table, as well as carrying money (see introduction picture)!

Thank you so much for following along! I would love to see your suggestions and ideas about moving origami because there is so little variety out there! Please let me know if you know good origami-instuctions and tell me what your favourite origami-piece is!

I hope my first "Instructable" is helpful for someone, who wants to suprise a special person with an unusual little greeting card or is just as obsessed with origami as I am! :)

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