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Our wedding back in 2011 got featured quite a few times on Offbeat Bride, a wedding site that highlights unique spins on the traditional ceremony. One of my posts that got featured was about our wedding favors, and how we hand-folded thousands of pieces of paper to make these cute little origami candy-filled “boxes”. Ever since then I have been receiving dozens of emails from people asking for a tutorial on how to make these things. I’ve lazily put off posting the tutorial forever, but another email yesterday kicked me in the butt enough to finally put it together.

I have looked all over the internet and have not been able to find any other instructions for these origami pieces. I’m not even sure what they’re called. When I was living in Japan in 2008 I visited an elementary school where some friends and I did some English games and songs with the students. As a thank-you, the students gave us each one of these origami shapes, filled with origami stars. The larger origami piece fascinated me, so I carefully began pulling it apart, drawing up diagrams and taking notes as I unfolded each section, to ensure that I’d be able to fit it back together again. I then took those diagrams and read them backwards to teach myself how to create one of my own shape to match the one I’d received. I guess what I’m trying to say is, this took me a lot of work, so I hope you appreciate me basically spoon-feeding you the answers now. (I joke.)

Ok, let’s get to folding. A simple cube-shaped box takes 6 pieces of paper, and to create a larger box like the ones I used for my wedding favors, it takes 12 pieces of paper. You can make an even larger box using 30 pieces of paper, but you’ll have to figure that one out on your own.

Each single sheet of paper needs to be folded a specific way to create one of the 6 or 12 (or 30) pieces, so I’ll give you those instructions first. If you mess up with these first instructions, your box will not fit together correctly later. Follow every instruction exactly as stated! Ok, let’s start.

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Pretty simple so far, right? Let’s continue on to step 8:

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Not sure how obvious it is, but I learn almost totally through visuals and then trial and error. That also tends to be how I teach. So I personally don’t feel as though the written instructions are necessary, but I hope they do help and don’t hinder.

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That last part may get a bit confusing. My best advice is to keep trying until what you have matches the photo.

Now, practice creating more of the pieces above. Make six, for a cube, or 12, for a larger box… or 3,000, for wedding favors. 

This next step I’m about to show you is how these pieces fit together. If your pieces are folded precisely with crisp edges, they’ll lock together like puzzle pieces. Here’s your first basic pyramid shape, that you’ll be using to build all sizes of boxes:

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Got it? Isn’t it satisfying to see abstract things coming together to form recognisable shapes? Learning is fun!

Now, let’s move on to the 6-piece cube. Start with the 3-piece pyramid I already showed you above, then I’m pretty much abandoning written instructions here. Like I said earlier, it’s a lot of trial and error. See what fits, see what works. I have confidence that you’ll figure it out (besides, this is the easy one. If you can’t get this, you might as well just give up).

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Proud of you for not giving up. Let’s move on to the 12-piece shape!

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Whoa, you did it! I had very little confidence in you, but hey! You proved me wrong!

A few final things: Did you like the paper I used? I got it when we were in Korea this summer. I found it’s actually not super easy to find awesome origami paper in the states, but I would recommend checking at Asian markets.

And my final thing: I started doing origami when I was in 6th grade, and it saved me from bruised arms and bloody noses. I’m serious. I was getting beat up on the bus by this one boy. I wasn’t strong enough to fight back, and I couldn’t figure out a way to get him to stop. One afternoon he reeled back to punch me in the head and as I cringed down, I offered an origami shape in my upturned palm. He paused, delicately picked up the shape, inspected it, then fake punched at me to make me cringe again before wandering off. The next day he threatened to punch me again if I didn’t give him another origami piece. Long story short, by the end of the year he was sitting next to me on the bus while I taught him to fold all the origami shapes I knew. 

Thirteen years later, I was back at this same school, hired to teach art. Whenever my students finished their projects we worked on origami together. Teaching my students the above project was perfect, because in a class of 20 kids all folding paper, we could easily put together quite a of these origami boxes. I typically used construction paper, and we made some pretty large pieces. Also, this origami type worked with my students as young as 7, and as old as 21! Anyway, hope you enjoyed learning the process. 

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If you can think of a good name for this origami shape, please leave a suggestion in the comments!

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