Introduction: How to Make Your Own Origami Paper

About: I am a full time Speech Language Pathologist that loves DIY on the side! My wife and two children provide me with lots of fun ideas and projects to continuously work on. I love 3D/3D printing, Origami, and Pai…

For those of you new to the amazing and diverse world of Origami here is a super nifty, money saving, tip that I wish I knew a lot sooner. I have been making Origami ever since I taught myself at age 8. I love it and it has become the hobby that ever increasingly teaches me patience, and each model I finish gives me a fulfilled feeling of joy at the end.

This Instructable will teach you how to "make" your own super thin and crisp Origami paper with simple gift tissue paper.

Let's get started!

Step 1: The Items You Will Need for This Project

For this DIY Origami Paper project you will need:

  • Tissue Paper; the best thing about tissue paper is it comes in a variety of colors and prints and you can find it at almost any store. You can even just use white and paint it the color you want.
  • A paintbrush; the wider brushes are better but any brush will do.
  • some old cardboard tubes from wrapping paper or a wooden rolling pin would work to.
  • a flat surface that can get a little messy. I am using - and will always recommend using - a piece of glass for your surface. Before that, however, I used a piece of plywood with a plastic sheet on top and that worked too. This is a 100cm square tempered piece of glass that I got from work. (I am a Glazier)
  • lastly, you will need about 4-5 hours of time to complete this project; most of that is just waiting for the paper to dry ;)

Step 2: What Is Methyl Cellulose (MC Glue)

First thing is first, we have to talk about the key ingredient in how this Origami paper is made. The number one item you wouldn't be able to do this project without is Methyl Cellulose. This is an excerpt from Wikipedia that explains what this stuff is perfectly, "... a chemical compound derived from cellulose. It is a hydrophilic
white powder in pure form and dissolves in cold (but not in hot) water, forming a clear viscous solution or gel. It is sold under a variety of trade names and is used as a thickener and emulsifier in various food and cosmetic products, and also as a treatment of constipation. Like cellulose, it is not digestible, not toxic, and not an allergen."

So when you end up getting this stuff it should be a white powder, as explained. The word to look out for here is "thickener". This is not necessarily a glue, but it works just like one. However, it is really just thickening the tissue paper so it doesn't rip or tear easily when you fold it. Just for your own curiosity I just found out that whole milk can also be used as an adhesive and I actually want to try it for this application sometime.

I will post a video link to the best way I have seen this demonstrated when it comes to how to mix it, but also my images should help.

In order to make this you take 11 grams of MC powder and 1450 ml of water and mix them. That's It! 1450 milliliters of water is basically a little more than half of a 2 liter bottle. You can see on my bottle where I put a black line so I never have to measure that random amount ever again. It won't make a huge difference if you don't get the perfect amount of water and it really depends on if you want a thicker or thinner MC glue for different thicknesses of tissue paper. This is the best recipe I have found so far. Be sure to make the MC glue the night before because it takes about all night long to set up. But then it lasts for months!

Here is the link to the video; it is way too long so just be patient:

Also here is the link to for where to buy this stuff super cheap!


Step 3: Setting Up and Rolling Out the Tissue Paper

Okay we are finally ready to get this paper made!

  1. Make sure you made your MC glue beforehand and it is ready to go. If it still has some little white floaties wait a little longer for them to dissolve. I generally leave mine overnight and it is good in the morning.
  2. Lay out the paper so you can see where it will end up and how large it will be.
  3. roll each piece of tissue paper individually on a cardboard tube. You don't want to do two pieces at a time because it will cause bubbles in the layers and you DON'T want bubbles.
  4. Pour out some of your MC glue onto the glass or other surface you are using. I end up measuring mine and generally 1/2 cup does the job for 3-4 sheets. This stuff is like gold to me so I try to use as much as I can sparingly.
  5. You only need to brush on a thin layer on your surface, then immediately roll the tissue onto the surface with MC glue on it. Make sure to apply pressure to stretch and press the paper down so it doesn't have many bubbles.
  6. Apply another sheet on top of that one if you want two-tissue paper thickness.

Then just keep up that pattern until you have the desired paper thickness. MC glue + tissue paper + MC glue + tissue paper.

Make sure to thin out any and all bubbles as best you can, but don't get annoyed if you can't, most of them disappear while it dries.

The general and most useful thickness is two-tissue, but if you are folding a very complex model, one tissue is very helpful. Sometimes you can use three-tissue as well.

Step 4: Enjoy Watching It Dry

After you have gotten as many bubbles as you can out, simply apply any other layers you want and wait for it to dry.

As I stated earlier bubbles are not something we want, but sometimes they are. For example if you want a more rough or textured look, when the bubbles dry they create a very unique almost earthy texture to the paper. But for the most part avoid bubbles ;)

Another item to mention is if you get holes. It does happen and I even had it happen to me. It is not the end of the world so don't freak out. This is a technique and, as with all techniques, it takes time and patience to conquer it. If it is the first layer when you put a layer on top of the hole it will disappear. Also you can create a two toned pattern by deliberately making holes and putting a different color on top. When it dries that color will be the one to show through the other.

Step 5: While It Is Drying Experiment

As you can see from my images I used a third sheet to one, cover up the hole and two, experiment!

Try new things with this technique. There are numberless ways to make textures, colors, and blends with this paper. You can paint on it too which is fun. I did a little shell texture making with a fourth layer just to see how it would hold up.

There are others that blend the paper dyes together with a technique and I, again, love mixing paint with the MC glue and making my own designed paper.

You can add wind and a fan to make the paper dry faster, but it will be weaker in areas so I like to wait the whole time.

Have fun with it and enjoy making your own perfectly thin and crisp Origami paper.

Step 6: Get Folding!

Now that you have incredible paper cut it to square and get folding.

Just a simple tip with cutting this paper:

Make sure to cut all edges before cutting a square. Even if they were perfectly square pieces of tissue paper they have now been soaked and therefore stretched. So be sure to cut any edge first then, to get the perfect square, cut all three edges to make a rectangle, then take the edge and fold it at a diagonal to make a square and cut that. It is trickier to cut a square then you would think. But it is so rewarding to peel this paper of your surface and feel how crisp it is.

peel it slowly so it doesn't rip if it is still wet and you didn't notice (it happens).

I attached a picture of a goat fish by Robert J. Lang that I folded with this exact paper from this instructable. The other T-Rex model is with a piece of white tissue that I painted to demonstrate how it looks when you paint the paper. I love it!

Good Luck

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