Prairie Origami – Sort Of

Given what’s happening in the country right now, this doesn’t seem like the right time for my previously-planned post on the importance of drawing people into conservation. There will be time for that after we get through this week and its various issues. Instead, I thought I’d present an activity that might help distract you from some of those issues, including the 762,000 pounds of Hot Pockets recalled because of potential glass and plastic contamination. We’ll get through this together.

I have spent multiple hours honing my paper crafting skills, and have gradually developed a style I call ‘dad origami’. I want to be clear that my origami style is based only very loosely on the ancient art of Origami, which I believe was developed by Fernando Origami sometime in the 1840’s. If anyone from the Origami family is reading this, I have nothing but respect for your family’s art. This is not that.

Anyway. If you’re looking for something to keep your mind off of scandals, including what was on Amanda’s desk on Law and Order: SVU, here are some simple – and hopefully, entertaining – directions describing how to make your own prairie creation out of paper. Enjoy.

Start with a rectangular piece of paper. DO NOT USE SQUARE PAPER – THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT.
Fold one corner over to the far edge of the paper. This is the most important fold of the entire project.
Make another fold as shown here. Then open that fold back up.
Grab some origami scissors (if you don’t have origami scissors, I guess you can use other kinds but I can’t guarantee results). Cut carefully along the last fold you made. Feel free to include a few small jagged edges for style.
Make several more folds, including at least one that you fold and then open back up for no apparent reason. This is very important.
Make a couple more folds. These are the most important folds in the entire project, so take your time on these.
Unfold the fold on the left end and then make two more folds, pretending that this was part of the plan from the beginning.
Turn the paper over. Try to hide your surprise that it actually looks a little bit like an insect.
Now, take the strip you cut off at the beginning of the project and dig it out of the recycling bin, just as you intended all along. With your origami scissors, cut the strip into 6 smaller rectangular strips. As before, feel free to add small jagged edges for style.
Fold each of those small strips into thirds, lengthwise.
Fold each of those folded strips so they don’t look so straight and boring.
Using origami tape, affix each of the strips to the bottom of the folded creation you’ve made. (If you don’t have origami tape, other tapes may also work, but it might affect the quality of the final product.)
Turn the paper over again and admire what you absolutely had envisioned before starting.
Using origami crayons (I really do have to insist that you use actual origami crayons for this step), add the final details.

And that, folks, is how you make a large milkweed bug out of paper. You’re welcome, and enjoy your week.

Here’s the same set of instructions in video format, in case you like that easier:

This entry was posted in Uncategorized by Chris Helzer. Bookmark the permalink.

About Chris Helzer

Chris Helzer is the Director of Science for The Nature Conservancy in Nebraska. His main role is to evaluate and capture lessons from the Conservancy’s land management and restoration work and then share those lessons with other landowners – both private and public. In addition, Chris works to raise awareness about the importance of prairies and their conservation through his writing, photography, and presentations to various groups. Chris is also the author of "The Ecology and Management of Prairies in the Central United States", published by the University of Iowa Press. He lives in Aurora, Nebraska with his wife Kim and their children.

15 thoughts on “Prairie Origami – Sort Of

  1. So needed this, Chris! Must confess, that when I got to the cutting & folding of the cut strip (it wasn’t in recycle yet, I had used it to take a couple of notes for something), anyway, at that point, I started laughing & had to skip to the end to see what this was going to be! Agree with Nancy, narration would have been even more fun! Thank you!!

  2. You’re right: Diversion is distracting and comforting. Thanks for an easy and enjoyable prroject — you obviously know how much we all love and appreciate insects and other invertebrates.

  3. Thanks! You help keep me sane (or what I hope will pass for sane). Fortunately I have both origami tape and origami crayons in the house. Struggling along with not having origami scissors.

  4. Proof that prairie management takes particular skills. You’ve also pointed out innovation and adjusting guidelines a bit. Origami and scissors!


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