**This is a guest post contributed by Mikaela Whitney.
I’m a Para jumper, I don’t need to know arts and crafts
People don’t give origami enough credit. It literally saves lives in the military every single day. The usage of origami- paper folding can be found in parachutes, air bags, and tents. How does someone take a big item and store it efficiently? Origami. How can a parachute be folded to open properly? Origami. How do the transformers go from giant robots to cars? Origami. There’s so much more to origami than paper boats, cranes, and hats and almost any Military personnel can put it to use.
Robert J. Lang has been seen talking about space exploration and incorporating origami into science for years. Understanding how something large can be folded up and unfolded without compromising the structural makeup of something can lead to revolutionary science that’s based around thousand-year-old arts and crafts. In years past, origami has been able to inspire real-life examples of this practice, including space lenses for telescopes the size of football fields. There have been solar panels that open and close using this origami inspiration. NASA is also designing star shades to block unwanted light that could allow telescopes to see further in areas blocked by starlight.
I’m no Para jumper or engineer
So, you’re not jumping out of helicopters or designing revolutionary military equipment. Why should you learn origami? If you can think of something, an animal, a chair, a flower, you can probably find an origami instructional video on it. Maybe you’re being stationed in Japan. Knock them dead when you can not only fold a paper crane, but you can make an origami Yoda from Star Wars. On a train? Fold origami. On a plane? Fold origami. On a bus? Fold origami. You might travel all the time, it’s a great way to sharpen your skills and challenge your brain. If you’re good at geometry and general mathematics, you might even be able to design your own. You can even make origami tanks with standard printer paper. I mean who doesn’t like tanks? You could even make your favorite fighter jets, biplanes, and helicopters. There is a model for everyone. Even if you’re horrible at origami I can find even one model anyone can fold. Take a square paper and fold it off center diagonally so you have all four points pointing up. You just made the one-fold Stegosaurus.
I’m Retired Military or a Dependent/Spouse
Alright, so you’re no longer active, or you were never in the Military, that’s alright. There’s still plenty of reasons you should pick up this new skill. When I was in school I was horrible at geometry. Shapes and angles made my brain hurt. It was only until I viewed geometry from an origami standpoint that I was able to teach myself about right angles and symmetry. I was able to visualize the math in a 3D real-world representation of what was in front of me in the text book. School projects were always a breeze. “We need someone who can draw for this art project” is a sentence I heard a lot in school. I can’t draw, but I’ve done school projects in origami and got good marks for creativity and originality. Use it to make props for your science fair too. Did a science experiment about rats? Don’t lose him in the school cafeteria, make an origami rat for the display. It will be a one of the kind hit.
Maybe you’re out of school like me, your family or spouse is in the military and you pick up some paper while shopping on base and you think “well, what can I do with this?” With Standard printer paper or colored printer paper you can easily begin the exploration into the origami world. From a rectangle if you fold the bottom corner to the opposite edge at a 45-degree angle you should create a right triangle plus some extra paper. Trim the extra paper to reveal that if the triangle is unfolded you’ll have a square ready to fly—to be a crane. Another way is to line up two rectangle papers, one horizontal and one vertical. Line it up corner to corner. You should be able to see the square now. Draw a line where the extra paper is and cut it to reveal your square, or two if you do both papers.
I have recently used origami to make a one of a kind statement piece in my house using scrapbook paper, a piece of wood and a clock movement. There is some extraordinary modular origami out there you can use to make jewelry, household decorations and Christmas ornaments. You can even sell them to make money! If you made an origami modular ball shape with paper and put it over an LED bulb lamp, you now have a one of a kind lamp shade. If you buy some clear ornaments that open and you placed your favorite origami model inside, you just made one of a kind ornaments you could sell. Tiny origami in glass bottles on necklaces, you can sell it. Teach classes at a craft store and keep the profits.
Maybe you have small children who have been running around the house and you can’t get them to stay still. Make them an origami hat and paper sword so they can be pirates. Or teach them some origami too. Children love origami because there are a lot of models designed with them in mind. I once babysat a girl whose attention I held the whole time I was watching her, by showing her some origami. I made her flowers fish and paper claws. Children get so captivated by origami they start learning it to, you can learn with them as a bonding activity, or make them a boat or crane and watch their face light up in amazement. I have handed kids an origami box before and they were anything but impressed. Then I told them the box is magic. I unfolded a few flaps and the box became a rose. The expression they make when origami goes from a box, to a rose, back into a box is heartwarming. The model is even simple enough to teach a preteen. They will love to make them for their friends and share their new skills
Origami can be great for passing time, going into space, saving lives and making a couple extra dollars. Try origami it doesn’t take a genius to get started—just put one-fold in front of the other.