Page 1

The art of papercraft Techniques and inspirations

Monica Giunchi 1



“With just a few folds or drops of glue, the basic sheet morphs from flat plane into an actual body that represents and defines its occupied space�

Content #1 Introduction


#2 Mixed Techniques


  Do it yourself    Paper Blossoms    Pillow Box    Rosy Stationery

17 18 20 26

#3 Papercutting   Do it yourself    Snowflake Garland    Papercut Cards     Silhouttes    Artists' Work    Made by Juliene    Rob Ryan

#4 Origami   Do it yourself    Symbols    Basic Folds    Origami Fox    Papercrane    Origami Bear   Artists' Work    Roman Diaz    Robert J. Lang    Paul Jackson

#5 Stop-motion    Sean Pecknold, "Mykonos"    Nadiah Almahdaly, "Kami"

29 33 36 38 42 47 48 50

53 61 62 64 66 70 74 79 80 82 84

87 90 94



01 Intro


Why this book In the landscape of the contemporary life, where we seem to increasingly spend our time in front of a computer, I think it is important to regather the manuality and tactility of handmade crafts.   The aim of my book is therefore to give a starting point to all those who wants to rediscover creativity through a simple medium like paper.


I have recently been exploring different ways you can handmake items, in particular with paper, and found it was extremely refreshing from the long days I have passed designing in front of my computer, the things you can actually do are infinite: from origami to boxes, beautiful paper lamps or decorations for your house, even little handmade books.   My book is therefore an exploration of these different techniques and also aims to give an insight in to what some artists and designers have done with this medium, in order to push forward the input to creativity.


A brief history The earliest example of ‘paper-folding’ was an ancient Egyption map, drawn on a paper like substance and folded into a rectangle, like modern road maps. Back then, it wasn’t possible to create intricate paper folding, because the right paper had not been invented. When the Chinese invented wood based paper, it became possible to fold the paper more crisply and with more precision (2nd century B.C.). It is not known exactally when it started, but the first Japanease oragami dates from the 6th century A.D.


Different cultures have originated different kinds of papercrafts, the most famous one remains origami, but within the Japanese culture there are other kinds of papercraft, like Kirigami and Chigiri, China is famous for the ancient tradition of paper cut and the Chinese paper lanterns. All different tradition in which we can find new uses for paper in modern society, like decoupage, gift wrapping, and so on.   A lot of designers and artists have recently made use of paper as a medium to create powerful works of design, art and videos. As Robert Klanten noticed “in an age where almost any information, be it newspaper, article or video clip, photograph or music file, is only a few free clicks away, the unique immediacy of an object, performance or installation, its multi-

“With just a few folds or drops of glue,

sensory properties, the moment itself gains

the basic sheet morphs

renewed importance”.

from flat plane into an actual

  Paper is very versatile, its uses are infinite.


The only way to get it known is to explore it

that represents and defines its

deeply and try out.

occupied space”



02 Mixed Techniques



To start off To familiarize with papercraft I thought it was a good idea to start off with easy to make artworks, gradually progressing to harder pieces of works.   In this chapter you will therefore find a variety of examples of papercrafts, from house decorations to stationery items, with the relative instructions on how to remake them, and also some works of different practitioners which have used paper in the most diverse ways.



Do it yourself


Mixed Techniques


Paper Blossoms These paper blossoms could be a really nice decoration for a bedroom or living room, and are very quick and cheap to realize. Material: Tree Bunches,Tissue Paper, Scissors, Scotch Tape, Fishing Line

#4 Attach a small piece of scotch

#1 Cut tissue paper into squares of 2 inches and overlap them

tape to the edge of the stem. #5

in a star. #2 Pinch them in the middle

Wrap the tape around an offshoot of the branch to secure the blossom.

to form a light crease, then #6

pinch in the other direction. #3 Twist the pinched parts to form

Repeat until you create a beautiful blossomed branch.

a “stem�.









Pillow Box Gift boxes come in all shapes and sizes, and all varieties of complexity. The pillow box is pretty simple to make, it stores flat and it looks all exotic and impressive. And it doesn’t need to be fastened shut, making it easily reusable. Material: Pretty Coloured Paper, Scalpel, Ruler, Glue, Template, Decorations

#1 Print or draw the template of the pillow box in the back side

the narrow flap on one side of the box. #5 Apply glue to that narrow

of the paper. #2 With a mechanical pencil, or

folded over edge. Then fold the

the back of a cutter, or a paper

other half of the box back over,

folder, score along the "score

onto the glue. Press firmly, and


let dry. #6 Squeeze it from either side so it

#3 Cut out the box. #4 Fold the box along the center score line, open, then fold over

bulges outward, then ease the flaps at both ends of the box.








Fill with good things, then tie some ribbon around the box. You can get fancy and make all kinds of wraps, ribbons and other decorations for the box. 21

Pillow Box Template



Rosy Stationery Leafy vegetables make great-tasting salads, and sumptuous floral-shaped stamps, too. Here, the end of a head of Treviso radicchio yields a roselike print. You can vary stamp shapes with other vegetables, such as romaine lettuce stems or even brussels sprouts cut in half. Material: Stamp pad, Treviso radicchio, knife, Card.

#1 Cut off stem end with a sharp knife. #2 Stand the stem on a paper


#3 Press cut side onto a large stamp pad the onto cards, stationery, and more,

towel, cut-side down, for 5

blotting on paper towel

minutes to dry.

between presses.



03 Paper cutting


Introduction Papercutting is an ancient form of folk art and its history lies in China, where the art is known as jian zhi. Long traditions in papercutting exist in other countries too, including kirie in Japan, sanjihi in India, and the famous papel picados in Mexico.

The art of papercutting and paper crafting as a whole has seen a considerable rise in popularity in recent years, but in existence since as far back as the sixth century. Creative working in this medium use a number of different techniques. Some cut straight into chosen paper, essentially drawing with their cutting tool. Others first sketch or print out their design and then cut around its marked-out lines. Tools may include may include scissors, scalpels, X-Acto knives, or other forms of blade.


Technique Tips Most papercutters tend to start each new piece by cutting out the most difficult parts first, before moving on to the rest of the artwork. Curved areas are best cut with a swift, confident movement; angular areas with shorter stabbing motions. Another good tip is to cut toward yourself and rotate the artwork on a table to make that possible. That is not practical when working on large pieces but works well for small pieces.


Paper cutting tools Paper It is best to use a light-to-medium weight paper when cutting more intricate, detailed designs, but for simpler designs a heavier stock can be used. As a general rule, try not to use a highly textured stock as the fibers in the paper will drag when you cut it. Scalpel Also known as a lancet, a scalpel is a sharp, steel-bladed instrument used for cutting. Scalpels are either disposable or have replaceable blades. Craft Mat Otherwise known as a self-healing mat, this is important as it protects both the work surface and your blade and provide a solid base on which to work.


Do it yourself

03.01 Papercutting Paper Cutting




Snowflake The garland in the previous page is made with origami paper, dental floss, and tape. The second and third flakes in that garland are based on a 5-pointed star. You can find the directions for a it here, they’re easier to cut since there are fewer paper layers. The first, fourth, and fifth flakes in the garland are based on 8 points. Material: Origami Paper, Dental Floss, Tape #1 Place a square of paper pretty

pressing a small crease into the

side down. Fold the bottom point

paper. Open the triangle again. #4 Bring the top corner down to the

up to the top to form a triangle. #2 Bring the left corner over to the

crease you just made and mark

right corner and mark the midpoint

the midpoint by pressing a small

by pressing a small crease into the

crease into the paper. Open the

paper. Open the triangle.

triangle again. #5 The paper should now have three

#3 Bring the right corner up to the

points marked with creases.

top and mark the midpoint by







#6 Fold the right corner upward so the bottom edge of the triangle meets the upper crease.

#8 Fold the resulting shape in half so the right edge aligns with the

#7 Fold the left corner upward so the bottom edge of the triangle


aligns with the opposite side.


opposite side. #9 Cut your design and open.




Papercut Cards With simply a pencil and a scalpel you can create beautiful papercut designs. You can also draw your design on graphic software and print it if you find that easier. Get creative and try to be precise with your scalpel. Material: Coloured Card, Scalpel. Cutting Mat, Glue

#1 Draw by pencil, or on graphic software like Illustrator for your

opposite side that you want as

initial design.

final piece.

#2 Cut off the parts with a scalpel,


it is advisable to cut on the

#3 Stick the papercut on your card.

This is just an example that you can copy to start off, but the possibilities are infinite, just get yourself creative in designing and papercutting and the results will be impressive. 37



Silhouettes Here is another idea for a papercut card or just for a beautiful piece to hang on your walls. Material: Coloured Card, Scalpel. Cutting Mat, Glue

#1 Draw by pencil, or on graphic software like Illustrator your design. #2 Cut off the parts with a scalpel, it is advisable to cut on the


opposite side that you want as final piece. #3 Stick the papercut on your card or get creative and invent your final output!





Artist's work

03.02 Paper Cutting


Made by Juliene Made by Juliene is

Harrison starts her designs in

papercutting artist Julene

rough in Adobe Photoshop,

Harrison’s company. She

working out a layout and

makes handmade papercuts

sketching details of more

to order, from invitations to

specific elements. She then

cards to letterheads, in her

prints out her rough design

distinctive illustrative and

ready for the cutting process,

typographic style.

for which she uses a scalpel.


“Originally a constructed textile designer, I have now started papercutting. It’s a medium I have quickly grown to love. I get a lot of pleasure turning a single sheet of paper into something people seem to enjoy”.


Rob Ryan Rob Ryan is a visual artist from Cyprus who

Dara Horn’s novel The World to Come.

specialises in papercutting , screen-printing

Ryan’s first book, This Is for You, was

and drawing and painting. He is now most

published on October 4, 2007 by Hodder

famous for his detailed paper cut outs.

& Stoughton; it consists of a fairy tale told

He has illustrated book and album covers,

through his paper cut-out art and explores

including John Connolly’s novel The Book

themes of love and loneliness.Ryan also

of Lost Things, Erasure’s album Nightbird,

creates the Global Gift greeting cards for

Chambers Lost Crafts by Una McGovern and

the charity Trocaire.




04 Origami


ďż˝ Origins There is much speculation about the origin of Origami. While Japan seems to have had the most extensive tradition, there is evidence of an independent tradition of paperfolding in China, as well as in Germany, Italy and Spain among other places. However, because of the problems associated with preserving origami, there is very little direct evidence of its age or origins, aside from references in published material.


In China, traditional funerals include burning folded paper, most often representations of gold nuggets (yuanbao). It is not known when this practice started, but it seems to have become popular during the Sung Dynasty (905–1125 CE). The paper folding has typically been of objects like dishes, hats or boats rather than animals or flowers. The earliest evidence of paperfolding in Europe is a picture of a small paper boat in Tractatus de sphaera mundi from 1490. There is also evidence of a cut and folded paper box from 1440. It is probable paperfolding in the west originated with the Moors much earlier, it is not known if it was independently discovered or knowledge of origami came along the silk route.


In Japan, the earliest unambiguous reference to a paper model is in a short poem by Ihara Saikaku in 1680 which describes paper butterflies in a dream. Origami butterflies were used during the celebration of Shinto weddings to represent the bride and groom, so paperfolding had already become a significant aspect of Japanese ceremony by the Heian period (794–1185) of Japanese history, enough that the reference in this poem would be recognized. Samurai warriors would exchange gifts adorned with noshi, a sort of good luck token made of folded strips of paper.


In the early 1900s, Akira Yoshizawa, Kosho Uchiyama, and others began creating and recording original origami works. Akira Yoshizawa in particular was responsible for a number of innovations, such as wet-folding and the Yoshizawa-Randlett diagramming system, and his work inspired a renaissance of the art form. During the 1980s a number of folders started systematically studying the mathematical properties of folded forms, which led to a steady increase in the complexity of origami models, which continued well into the 1990s, after which some designers started returning to simpler forms.


Yoshizawa-Randlett system The Yoshizawa-Randlett system is a diagramming system used to describe the folds of origami models. Many origami books begin with a description of basic origami techniques which are used to construct the models. There are also a number of standard bases which are commonly used as a first step in construction.   The concept of diagramming originated in the 1797 book “Senbazuru Orikata”, the first origami book ever published. The diagrams in this book were very unclear, and often only showed the end result of the folding process, leaving the folder unsure how the model was created.   Later books began to devise a system of showing precisely how a model was folded. These ranged from an unwieldy set of symbols to a photograph or sketch of each step attempting to show the motion of a fold. None of these systems were sufficient to diagram all models, and so none were widely adopted.


In the 1950’s and 60’s, Akira Yoshizawa proposed a system of diagramming. He introduced for the first time its diagramming notation in his first published monograph, Atarashi Origami Geijutsu (New Origami Art) in 1954. He employed dotted and dashed lines to represent mountain and valley folds, and a few other symbols such as the “inflate” and “round” symbols. This system caught the attention of Samuel Randlett and Robert Harbin, who added a few symbols such as “rotate” and “zoom in”, and then adopted it as the standard. The YoshizawaRandlett system was first described in Samuel Randlett’s Art of Origami in 1961. It was then accepted as the default throughout the international origami community, and is still in general use today.



Do it yourself

04.01 Origami


Symbols #1 Valley Fold, fold in front

#2 Mountain Fold, fold behind

#3 Crease Line

#4 Fold in this direction


#5 Fold behind

#5 Unfold

#6 Fold and unfold

#7 Turn over


Basic Folds These folds often recurr in origami folding diagrams so it is good to understand them from the beginning so that when you will be looking at more complex diagrams you will be able to follow all the passages easily. Material: Origami Paper

#1 Valley Fold

#2 Mountain Fold

#3 Pleat Fold


#4 Inside Crimp Fold

#5 Outside Crimp Fold

#6 Inside Reverse Fold

#7 Outside Reverse Fold


Origami Fox An easy origami to start with, the next origami will be more challenging. Material: Origami Paper,

#5 Open on the right as indicated,

#1 Fold in half to create creases, and then unfold.

and flatten.

#2 Fold in half on the opposite side.

#6 Turn around

#3 Fold to meet the centre line.

#7 Fold as indicated by the dashed

#4 Fold in half.













Paper Crane The paper crane is one of the most famous and popular origami figures, it is quite complex therefore I tried to illustrate it in a easy to understand way. Material: Origami Paper, #1 Starting with a standard origami

the same time folding the paper

paper, fold the square in half

crease inward so that point C is


touching point D. #6 Fold left and right corners toward

#2 Fold in half from right to left

the center line along the right

diagonally. #3 Spread the pocket out from the

valley line and then fold the top corner along the upper vally line.

inside and fold to make a small

#7 Your paper should now look like

square. #4 Your paper should now look like

this. The folds from step 6 are only to create a crease.

this. Turn it over to start step five. #5 Fold point B onto Point A, while at




paper #4


C #6











#8 Now, open the pocket by

#10 Fold in the lower flaps made in

pulling the bottom corner

step 9. Now you have the base of

up and fold inward along the

your papercrane.

crease. Some creases will become inverted. #9 The figure should look like this. Be careful to score the edges and corners cleanly. Turn over and do

#11 Make sure you have the right side up, valley fold on the dotted lines using the top layer only.. #12 The figure should look like this. Turn over.

the same (Steps 6, 7, 8).


#13 Do the same as step 11. #14 Reverse fold at dotted lines to form the head.

#17 Reverse fold at dotted lines to form the beak. You can select the length of the beak.

#15 Slightly open the side and bring the head part up like shown in

#18 Bend the wings down and out into the proper position. You can bow in from the bottom.

the diagram. #16 Bring up at this point and press

#19 And your crane is finished!

down. Do the same to form a tail on the other side.









Origami Bear This is a more complex origami model, if you are confident with your skills you could find it as engaging as I did. Material: Origami Paper, #1 Fold and unfold. Turn over,

#7 Fold on the right.

#2 Fold and unfold on the left.

#8 Fold as indicated by the

#3 Fold and unfold. Turn over. #4 Fold and unfold at the bottom.

dashed line. #9 Unfold. #10 Fold at the bottom and the two

#5 Fold on the left. #6 Fold and unfold as illustrated.

corners at the top. Turn over.



















#11 Fold as indicated by the normal

#14 Petal folds.

arrows and unfold behind as

#15 Rotate.

indicated by the "unfold arrows"

#16 Repeat behind.

#12 Fold as illustrated. Turn over. #13 Fold as illustrated.

#17 Crimp-fold the tail. Repeat behind at the front leg.


#18 Crimp-fold at the neck. #19 Reverse-fold at the head, tuck inside at the front legs. #20 Repeat behind. Crimp-fold the face, pleat the ears, reverse-fold front legs, and crimp-fold back legs. Repeat behind.







Artists' work

04.02 Origami


Roman Diaz Roman Diaz is an origami artist from Uruguay, who I discovered on the book “Masters of Origami�. Most of his works are focused on figures of animals, whose fractals and instructions can be found on his blog.



Robert J. Lang Robert J. Lang is recognized as one of the

and form to yield models that are at once

world’s leading masters of the art, with over

distinctive, elegant, and challenging to fold.

500 designs catalogued and diagrammed.

Dr. Lang is one of the pioneers of the

He is noted for designs of great detail and

cross-disciplinary marriage of origami

realism, and includes in his repertoire some

with mathematics. He has consulted on

of the most complex origami designs ever

applications of origami to engineering

created. His work combines aspects of the

problems ranging from air-bag design to

Western school of mathematical origami

expandable space telescopes.

design with the Eastern emphasis upon line



Paul Jackson The practice of Paul Jackson divides

have been photographed for different

between the free application of traditional

outputs like newspaper or magazine

paper folding techniques in the media,

advertisements, and occasionally also used

design and education, and the creative

for motion pictures and trade exhibitions.

exposition of these techniques in the

His origami are often "faked" from many

context of a Fine Art practice.

pieces of paper that are folded, cut and

He has worked for many leading advertising

glued together to make a model over which

agencies and design groups creating

he can have absolute control in terms of

origami models to their specifications that

construction, proportions and scale.




05 Stopmotion



In this final chapter I will show two pieces of animations, in order to give an insight into another huge possibility that a simple medium as paper can offer.   The first one is the video for Fleet Foxes' song "Mykonos" realized by Jesse Brown and Sean Pecknold, which is entirely realized with paper.   The second one is the animation "KAMI" by Nadiah Almahdaly, an animator from Malasia currently working in Bristol, who used paper as a medium for her animation, using different techniques of papercraft to represent the different characters of her story. I have decided to include her personal description of this work, which I think expresses it the best.


Sean Peacknold, "Mykonos" In 2009 Sean Peacknold, in collaboration

You can watch the full video at:

with the illustrator Jesse Brown created

the beautiful video for the song "Mykonos"

and also the making-of at:

by Fleet Foxes. The animation is entirely

realized with pieces of paper using the

which surely would be explicative and

technique of stop-motion. The video was

inspirational for your own practice.

completed in four weeks using the glass plane animation technique, with only two days for post-production. The video consists of simple shapes made with paper that come to life in a thrilling piece of motion.



"The two-triangled hero and his shape-shifting antagonist strike a nice visual balance between abstract imagery and recognizable characters". Michelle Higa, Motionographer 90


Nadiah Almahdaly, "KAMI" "Inspired by my 2 youngest brothers,

the other as each brother fights for control.

my animation talks about 2 brothers

I started animating about 2 years ago

squabbling over who gets imaginative

when I was doing my second degree. I

control of their playtime.The use of 2 types

was particularly interested in Stop Motion

of paper craft represents each brothers’

animation and initially decided to use papers

different styles of imagination and

as a medium because it was cheap. After

personality. Origami for the sporty, Action

much research into the kinds of paper craft

Hero-type brother and Quilling represents

however, I got more and more attracted by

the more adventurous, Fantasy Hero-type

the simplicity and flexibility of the medium."

brother. The film jumps from one style to




Full video: Nadiah Almahdaly's Blog:



This is just the start, now it is up to you to improve your skills and expand your knowledge of papercraft. There are hundreds of origami diagrams and handcraft tutorials that are easily accessed via the internet, I have included some of them in the next pages.   The gaining of manual ability and practical skills is both important and useful to have in life no matter what profession you hold.   You have seen what can be made with something as simple as a piece of paper, take what you can find, explore new techniques and get creative.

Good luck! Monica Giunchi



Useful Resources #1 Books     "Papercraft, Design and Art with Paper", Gestalten     "I Heart Stationery: Fresh Inspirations for Handcrafted Cards, Note Cards, Journals, & Other Paper Goods", Charlotte Rivers

#2 Websites  


“The art of Papercraft, techniques and inspiration� is a book for those who are interested in handcrafts and in particular papercraft. Paper is a simple medium, easy and cheap to find, which you can manipulate to create sensational outcomes. The book gives a basic background on the origins of some of the different forms of papercraft whilst summing up the basic techniques within this art form, from general stationery work, to papercutting, to origami, concluding with a brief overview on stop-motion created with this medium. You will find both tutorials and inspiration from artists, designers and animators, as a starting point to this precise and delicate art form.

The art of papercraft  

Level 2 "Everything about one thing" brief, Typography and Print Module

The art of papercraft  

Level 2 "Everything about one thing" brief, Typography and Print Module