What do you do with all the beautiful greeting cards you receive at this time of the year? Many people display them, but when the season is over, most of the holiday greetings are thrown in the trash. You can give the cards new life and help save landfill space by reusing them to make origami-style boxes. A little girl showed us how to make this box many years ago. Thanks for the art/recycling tip, Rachael!
The ancient art of paperfolding originated in China in the first or second century A.D., and by the sixth century, it had reached Japan. At first, paperfolding was practiced only by the wealthy, because most people couldn't afford to buy paper. The material was scarce in those times, but by the 1300's, it was plentiful. Paper became available to everyone, so more and more people began making what the Japanese called origami (ori means to fold, and gami means paper).
At the same time the Japanese were practicing this art form, it was developed by the Moors, a Muslim people who lived in northern Africa. In the eighth century, they invaded Spain. Besides having a great influence on the country's architecture, the Moors introduced paperfolding to the native people. The Moors, who were able mathematicians and astronomers, emphasized the geometry of paperfolding. Today, origami combines the beauty and simplicity stressed by the Japanese and the mathematical correctness and elegance emphasized by the Moors.
True origami does not make use of scissors or glue.
This art form depends solely on paper cut into a square, a variety of folding
techniques, patience, craftsmanship, and imagination. Still, the word origami
seems to best describe this activity, so following are instructions for making
an origami-style box, With a few simple folds, and a cut here and there, you
can make just the right box for small gifts or treasures.
To begin, separate the front of the card from the back
by cutting along the fold. The front will become the top or lid of your box. To
make the top more colorful, make sure the most interesting part is in the
center of the card before you do any measuring or cutting.
Origami always begins with a square, so measure the shortest side of the front of the card, and make the other side the same length. For example, if your card measures 5"x 7", make the square 5"x 5". The front will become the top or lid of your box. To make the bottom, again use a square, but make it 1/4" smaller than the lid. In our example, the paper for the bottom will measure 4 3/4"x4 3/4".
Step 1: To make the lid, turn the front of the card
face down. Place the ruler diagonally on opposite corners, and lightly draw a
pencil line between them.
Step 2: Repeat for the other two corners. An "x" will result from connecting opposite corners with the pencil.
Step 3: Lid portion of the box ready for folding.
Step 4: To make the bottom of the box, repeat steps 1 and 2 using the backside of the card. Draw the guidelines on the inside of the card or the side with the greeting printed on it.
Step 5: Being careful to keep the corner on the line,
fold one corner up to the center of the "x".
Step 6: Unfold the same corner and refold the corner up to the resulting crease.
Step 7: Keeping the corner in this folded position, fold the card again.
Step 8: Fold it once more so that it touches the center line.
Step 9: Unfold and repeat this step for the other three
Step 10: Now you're ready to cut and assemble the box's top, which will be formed from the four squares in the center. To make it easier to see the folds to be cut, go over the creases with a pencil.
Step 11: Mark until you reach the crease, as shown.
Step 12: Repeat again on the opposite side, stopping at the crease.
Step 13: Repeat the marking on the opposite sides. As
the image shows, you should have four marks on the card. The four squares in
the center of the card will become the box top, so stop at that point.
Step 14: Now you're ready to cut and assemble the box's top. Cut on the pencil mark, stopping at the crease.
Step 15: Now make the other three cuts on the pencil marks, being careful to stop at the creases that run across the card, as shown.
Step 16: The pointed tip of the triangular-shaped side will be folded to make the box sides.
Step 17: Working with one uncut corner,
fold the pointed tip of the triangular-shaped side down.
Step 18: Fold again.
Step 19: Fold in the triangular tab.
Step 20: Repeat folding in the opposite triangular tab.
Step 21: Fold in the triangular tabs, and stand the
card up. Fold in the legs to make the side of the box.
Step 22: Repeat the fold on the opposite end.
Step 23: The ends should stand upright at right angles to the end.
Step 24: Fold the end up with the ends extending into the inside of the box.
Step 25: Fold in the legs to make the other side of the
box. Bring the opposite legs together.
Step 26: To make the box shape, fold one of the other sides up and over the first two legs.
Step 27: Turn the point up and slide the fold back to hold the legs in place.
Step 28: Repeat on the opposite side.
To make the bottom of the box, repeat steps 4-28 using
the back of the card. Remember to draw the guidelines on the inside of the card
or the side with the greeting printed on it (see Step 4). To assemble the
bottom, fold as we did the box top.
Step 29: To make the inside of the box neater, glue small squares of paper or felt over the inside of the box top and bottom.
Step 30: This is the covered inside of the box lid.
Step 31: Finished box bottom.
Step 32: Slide the box lid over the bottom.
When making origami, it's very important to work with
squares of paper. If possible, use a paper cutter to make the squares, but have
an adult do the cutting. If you don't have a paper cutter available, work with
a T-square or a triangle to keep your corners square.
It takes lots of practice to become proficient in
origami. There are many preconsumer and postconsumer waste papers with which
you can practice. Try squares of newsprint, newspaper, phone book pages, and
used copy and computer paper. For finished work, save small scraps of wrapping
paper or used gift wrap.
You can make origami boxes out of any paper of
cardstock weight, so use the idea to recycle other cards such as birthday
greetings and get well cards. Also, this idea may be adapted to any other paper
of cardstock weight. You can make much larger boxes, if you have old poster
board or other lightweight paperboard available.
Check your school or public library if you're interested in seeing some of the many excellent books about origami which are available. Also, there are several web sites which are devoted to paperfolding. Joseph Wu's Origami Page is an excellent site, and it has lots of information about origami as well.
Select this to choose other activities.