Heritage Crafts


The folding of paper into representational or abstract shapes.
Currently viable
Craft category
Historic area of significance
Japan & China
Area practiced currently
UK wide


Origami is the art of paper folding: the name is constructed from the two Japanese words ‘ori’ (meaning fold) and ‘gami’ (meaning paper). Paper folding has been used in both China and Japan for ceremonial and traditional purposes for many hundreds of years. However, there is also a Western tradition that is not as well documented.

A new origami art is emerging where paper can be transformed into many aesthetically beautiful forms. But for most people origami is fun, a way of relaxing and being creative with very simple materials. People have designed action models, such as flapping birds and jumping frogs, and origami based games and puzzles. Origami is no longer an esoteric Eastern art, but a creative pastime that is accessible to everyone.


Paper can be folded to create almost any shape, from simple representational designs, through detailed animals, to complex insects. New folding techniques have emerged to produce tesselations and more complex designs, such as a plated pangolin.


  • Mathematical and technical origami – using paper folding for mathematical insights (for example flat-foldability)
  • Kirigami – paper cutting
  • Teabag folding – rosette greeting cards

Issues affecting the viability

  • Origami is a wonderful low-resource activity, all you need is paper, even photocopy or recycled paper. Of course, for a display model, it’s worth seeking out some beautiful paper. It is accessible to all ages and to both hearing and visually-impaired learners.
  • The focus is generally on recreational rather than professional training and techniques.

Support organisations

  • British Origami Society, who celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2017. They are a registered charity who promote the study of folding within recreation, academic and scientific research, well-being, therapeutics, motor skills, relaxation and many other benefits. They offer electronic membership, as well as producing a bi-monthly printed magazine. (www.britishorigami.info)
  • Origami USA

Training organisations


Craftspeople currently known

Other information




National Lottery Heritage Fund
Swire Charitable Trust
The Royal Mint
Pilgrim Trust
Maxwell/Hanrahan Foundation
William Grant Foundation

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