Making Tiny Origami Techniques Remixed




About: I'm a Mechancial/Aerospace Engineer that likes to tinker in my spare time. I make my own Christmas Cards.
Back towards the end of May I posted a picture of a very tiny set of origami that I made using bond paper and my fingers and the question was asked, “How do you make them?”

Apparently claiming magic is frowned upon by the Instructables community.

I believe the following instructable will help to answer your questions.

Folding small models is, in many ways similar to folding regular sized models. Really there are two main challenges to it. First is paper thickness. We take for granted that paper is..well...paper thn! It makes it easy to fold because it is thin relative to the overall size. Once we get down to small scales the ratio of paper thickness to paper width is much less generous. Add to that the fact that each time you fold over you double your thickness and this is like folding a phone book.

I was considering demonstrating this through an interpritave dance, but I went for the instructional video.

Part 1: I introduce some basic ideas and fold the first large model

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Step 1: The Problem of Fingers

The second problem you will run into is your giant meat hooks. Even if you are a petitie little wisp, at these scales you might as well be folding with your elbows.

This also makes it hard to demonstrate techniques because my own fingers get in the way of seeing the paper. You will need to practice this. It is helpful to practice folding without looking because so much of this will be based on your sense of touch.

I'm going to throw back over to the video here where you can see this on the first small scale model. The fox model is from Origami Omnibus by Kunihiko Kasahara, which has the full instructions and so much more.

Part 2: I go down to the smaller scales with a model of a Fox

Step 2: Smaller Is Thicker

Moving back to the issue of paper thickness, you will find that at these scales folds become more suggestions. Your fold radius gets to be bigger than your paper width then you really are more sculpting than folding. The sweat from your fingers (and there will be sweat) will both help and hinder here. It will make it more like a wet folding technique.

With this next video we'll simulate a very small scale crane. It is good to see this here at the large scale to appreciate the problems you will encounter, but remember that at a smaller scale those imperfections will be less noticable.

Part 3: I go back to make a larger model using thicker paper to simulate the effects that will happen with the smaller scales

Step 3: Rolling Down the Scale

Moving back to even smaller scales, there are some other minor details to look at. Your model is so small that it will be hard to see visually where you last made your fold. Work with models that you have done many time before so that you can remember where you are at in the model.

Try not to sneeze also. When your model is the size of lint, you will not get it back from a dirty floor.

Back to the videos where we go back down to successively smaller scales with a crane, a Loch Ness Monster style dinosaur, and a smaller crane. At the scales of the last crane things are just too small to make all of the fold for the full crane, so I make it slightly simplified.

As you progress to smaller origami go in this same progression. Work on smaller and smaller scales. As you encounter problems, practice at the scle where you are comfortable before pushing your envelope (so to speak) further.

Part 4: I scale down the crane model to small scales

Part 5: I go to smaller scales with a Loch Ness Monster style dinosaur model

Part 6: I make an even smaller crane model and conclude the series

I look forward to any comments! If you make some tiny origami of your own please post them!
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    12 Discussions


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Here are mine.
    I've done small origami before but these techniques were great.
    I've used post-it notes (yellow) and receipts (white).
    These are the smallest I've made. The last one is the smallest.
    All are full cranes.
    No tools, no eye magnifiers

    photo 1.PNGphoto 2.PNGphoto 3.PNGphoto 4.PNGphoto 5.PNG
    3 replies

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    I made these after reading this.
    But I have done small stuff before like the crane and Japanese box with legs out of paper tabs on the end of the string on tea bags.
    I started some small cranes last October'11 out of thermal receipt paper.
    I'm always doing cranes to help with stress relief.

    These definitely take more effort.
    The reverse folds for the head and tails are the worst. Have to keep the fold intact on the wings while reversing the rest of the fold.

    Funny is they keep getting blown away on my desk.

    I used the dime as a reference because I wanted to compare to JC Nolan's foil cranes (

    I also recently received his book from the kick starter project he had (

    I like the challenge of it. How small without tools.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    W are of the same mind. I do origami mostly as a stress relief. Those links are really neat!

    I make a lot of them from the paper wrappers for silverware at restaraunts, but the sticky parts pose a challenge.

    I found that (at least for me being female lol) it is easier ( unlike some other things in life) to have long fingernails when trying to origami at this scale

    3 replies

    I really haven't found that long fingernails help me much since they are still wide. Smaller fingers are definite advantages...

    This inspired me to try my hand at some smaller-scale modular origami. I chose an icosahedron and it turned out pretty good. One picture shows the original one I made (which I had previously thought was pretty small) next to the smaller one I made. The other picture shows it onto a quarter, each face was eerily close to the size of the quarter. 
    Though not anywhere close to the smallness of your models, your video did give me the reassurance and confidence to make something smaller than I thought I could. I'm excited to try other models and to keep shrinking them down :)

    1 reply