Origami is the art of paper folding and has been enjoyed for centuries by adults and children alike. This relatively simple origami project is something the whole family can take part in and it will add warmth and personality to your living space.
Materials Required:
  • Waterproof Origami paper or Mineral Paper cut into 6" squares
  • string of lights (either LED or basic incandescent Christmas lights)
  • Origami Balloon folding instructions

This project can be done with regular origami paper, however there are distinct advantages to using Mineral Paper.  Mineral Paper will not discolour with exposure to sun and the elements, it's completely waterproof and is very heat resistant.  The heat resistance of Mineral Paper becomes essential if you choose to use a string of incandescent light bulbs (as they tend to get much hotter than LED lights). 

Origami paper manufacturer, Yasutomo, invented/developed Mineral Paper as well as the complimentary Waterproof Origami papers.  Waterproof Origami folds very well, is translucent enough for this project, and is available in plain white, solid colours, or patterns.

The Steps

Everyone comprehends origami instructions differently.  The Origami Balloon is considered a Level II project (one step up from beginner) but should be do-able by even the most befuddled beginner.  In an effort to make the folding instructions as simple as possible, we'll be referencing photos, diagrams, and a video.

helpful tip: Regular origami paper is not cheap, and Mineral Paper even more so!  Even if you're experienced in origami, I recommend doing at least the first balloon with a square scrap of printer paper (which you'll feel more free to mangle while you work the steps out).

Steps 1 - 4:

  • Take your square of paper and crease it on the diagonal in both directions (like in steps 1 & 2)
  • Then crease it in half in both directions and unfold flat-ish (like in steps 3 & 4)
Steps 5 & 6:
This is the first tricky fold...
  • Manipulate the creases until the sheet rises up in the middle like a pyramid (fig.5)
The 4 faces of the pyramid could be described as the North, South, East, and West faces. We want to bring together the NE and SE points (collapsing the East face) and do the same on the West side (bring together NW and SW points, collapsing the West face).
  • Collapse the form into a triangle that lays flat (as in fig.6)
The flattened pyramid should have 4 corners at it's base, two on the bottom left corner and two on the bottom right corner (visible in fig.6)
    Steps 7 & 8:
    • Fold the left and the right bottom corners up to meet at the apex of the pyramid
    • Flip the paper over and repeat the folds so it looks like fig.8 on both sides
    Steps 9 & 10:
      • Fold each East/West point inwards toward the center line
      • Flip the paper over and repeat folds on the back side so it looks like fig.10 on both sides
        Step 11:
          This next step is actually fairly simple but can be quite tricky to understand the first time around. The diamond shape achieved in fig.10 looks symmetrical but there should be loose flaps at one point, and not the other.  Orient your paper so the loose flaps are pointing up/North/away from you. The next three steps will be focused the left flap only...


          Here is photo of a finished left flap tuck for extra clarity (the right flap is not yet folded or tucked)...


          Step 12:

          Once all four flaps have been through the fold-crease-open-&-tuck-in process, gently crease back all four sides so the object looks like this..

          One pointy end of the object will have an opening/hole in it.
          Step 13:
          • Hold the object and blow a puff of air into the hole as you gently pull outwards on two of the flaps (opposite from one another)
             You may need to rotate, pinch, pull and and puff a couple times to get the balloon 'inflated' all the way
            Step 14:
            Installing on a light...
            • Locate the hole and pop a light through it, Voila!
            It's as simple as that!
            For those who prefer animated instructions, here is a link to a 3min video of the entire process of folding an Origami Balloon (provided by eHow)
            BONUS TIP:
            Mineral paper is an ideal surface for playing with the ultra-vibrant Alcohol Inks. Hand-painting each origami sheet before folding will result in a truly unique string of coloured lights!
            June 01, 2016 — Karen Bullaro