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What are the Best Tips for Napkin Origami?

Patti Kate
Patti Kate

The ancient Japanese folk art of napkin origami can add an elegant and creative element to a table setting. For beginners interested in learning the fundamentals of napkin origami, there are books available at public libraries and tips available online. Following the directions meticulously and choosing a design suited to your skills are a couple tips for making napkin origami. The materials used for napkin origami often make a difference in the quality of the end product.

Napkin origami involves learning to transform an ordinary napkin into a design to complement a table setting. One can choose to work with paper napkins or cloth napkins, but a cloth napkin for an origami project may require some extra effort. This is because a cloth napkin has slightly rounded edges, making the effect not entirely symmetrical.

Woman with a flower
Woman with a flower

When creating napkin origami from cloth napkins, some type of starch will be needed to keep the material in place once it is folded. This can be sprayed on prior to folding the desired design. If the cloth napkin is pre-folded straight from the package, it will need to be ironed flat for before beginning the napkin origami project.

If the napkin being used has a one-sided pattern, the individual needs to be accurate in the way he places the origami. For example, if the origami pattern calls for the napkin to be placed face down while beginning the project, it's important to pay attention to that detail. To help achieve the best results, it's also essential to find a smooth working area.

Working on a soft surface, such as a bed or couch, may be difficult. Therefore, it's a good idea to set materials on a large table. Because a steady hand is needed, it's also a good idea to remove distractions from the work area, such as pets or small children.

For uniquely detailed projects, the designer may wish to incorporate something extra into the napkin design. Garnishing the origami napkin with a small token, such as a bell during the holiday season, or a birthday cut-out placed strategically inside the napkin, may add the perfect touch. Adding decorative settings around the edges can dress up the table as well.

Beginners should start with a simple napkin origami design. More elaborate and creative designs can be attempted after mastering the basic skills and building some confidence. Beginners may find fun, easy projects at an arts and crafts supply store. Some of these feature pre-made designs with instructions for assembly.

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Discussion Comments


@KoiwiGal - Apparently there is one particular napkin fold that is a state secret in Austria. It's not technically origami, because it's a different culture, but it might as well be, and it's only used for the Royal family at particular special occasions.

Apparently it's so complex and difficult that they don't even have to try and keep the shape a secret. They are convinced that no one can learn it simply from looking at the folded napkin.


@bythewell - The problem with this way of folding napkins is that I always feel a little bit guilty about unfolding them to use them! It seems to be most common at weddings, probably because I don't go to many formal events. It just looks like someone went to a lot of trouble to create a beautiful shape and I'm going to shake it out in a few seconds.

I guess it's not like it is original art. They can easily make the same shape again from another napkin.


When I took a cruise with my mother a few years ago the thing that delighted us the most were the napkin origami shapes that were left in our rooms when they refreshed our towels. There was a different shape every time, like elephants and monkeys.

They probably weren't as complex as proper napkin origami can be when starch is used, since towels won't quite hold the same shape, but they were adorable anyway.

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