How to Fold Paper Money to Look Like an Elephant

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You can make an elephant using a one dollar bill.
You can make an elephant using a one dollar bill. (Image: One Dollar - variations of Crumpled dollar image by PaulPaladin from Fotolia.com)

Origami is a Japanese art that creates shapes and objects by folding paper. For origami with a twist, you can make a variety of shapes out of other forms of paper, such as an elephant out of a paper bill. The process requires learning mountain and valley folds, both of which are a bit challenging. But after some practice, you'll have a new party trick to impress family and friends.

Fold the bill in half lengthways (along the longest edge of the bill) and crease it using a valley fold. This is where you fold the bill on top of itself, creating a concave fold. Take the two left-hand corners and fold these inwards until the tips of the corners. This should create a V-shape on the left-hand side of the bill. Next, take what is now the top and bottom corner of the V and fold them again until the corners meet, similar to the way you would fold the front of a paper airplane.

Crease the left-hand corner at the base of the folded triangle, then fold the bill in half down the middle using a mountain fold, which is a fold that creates a convex crease, similar to an inverted v-shape. You can do this by placing the right-hand edge over the top of the the left-hand side. Once you have made the first crease (crease A), fold the right-hand side of the bill back underneath until the edge reaches the crease. This new crease is crease B, and it should be halfway between crease A and the right-hand edge of the bill. Repeat the process again, folding the bill back over to crease B and creating a new crease C.

Fold the bill back under itself using crease B. Make a valley fold at the tip of the triangle folded in step 1. The three creases and the valley fold should form a raised section of the bill called a center channel.

Fold the four corners of the center channel over, then fold over the remaining horizontal edges at the top and bottom of this section. Unfold the triangle on the left-hand side of the bill so that it is no longer bent over.The center channel should now be thinner than the sections of the bill in front and behind it and this part will become the legs of the elephant, while the triangle will become the head.

Create valley folds on either side of the center channel. Fold the right hand valley fold so that the right-hand edge of the bill tucks under the elephant. Then, create a mountain fold to the left of the channel. Turn the bill over and fold it along the left-hand valley fold so that the head doubles back over the legs. Then, fold the bill along the mountain fold so that the head points back in its original direction but slightly overlaps the legs.

Fold the whole elephant in half lengthways using a mountain fold. You will now have the shape of the elephant. Create a crease about half a finger width to the left of the front legs and, using a mountain fold, fold the trunk back under the body along this line, creating the ear crease. Make a valley fold, starting at the top of the ear crease but continuing to the left of the crease at a sharper angle along the base of the trunk. Push the section of trunk in front of these creases in towards the body, allowing the creases to open up and create the shape of the ears.

Create a mountain fold in the trunk so that it points downwards. Halfway down the trunk, create a valley fold so that the top of the trunk points upwards. Then, squash the tip of the trunk using another mountain fold so that it points downwards, giving the trunk an authentic elephant shape. Open up the center fold down the middle of the elephant and it will be able to stand on its own.

Tips & Warnings

  • A crisp dollar bill will work better than an old one. You will get the best results using a new bill but you can also try dry ironing an old bill to get rid of existing creases.

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