Paper-Folding for Beginners: The Origami Swan

Glide into the wonderful world of paper-folding with an overview of origami swan techniques, symbolism, materials and more.

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Origami swans are among the most popular designs in the realm of folded paper. With their graceful appearance and relatively beginner-friendly design, they're especially popular as decorations at weddings, anniversary parties and other meaningful life celebrations. And while the precise art of folding paper birds is fascinating in and of itself, it's important to understand the symbolism and history of origami swans before diving in. We'll tell you what you need to know about these beautifully folded paper crafts before you dive headfirst into learning how to make an origami swan.

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What Do Origami Swans Symbolize?

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Origami swans are often used as wedding and anniversary decorations because swans mate for life and are a long-standing symbol of eternal love. Origami swans have also become associated with art and with life passages because in Hindu mythology, they are ridden by Saraswati and by Brahma. Additionally, due to their association with some of nature's most naturally graceful creatures, origami swans have been said to represent peace, harmony and hope.

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Of course, for many, the mere art of folding paper has therapeutic properties. Whether or not you adhere to traditional beliefs about origami symbolism, it's easy to understand why this art form—and more specifically, the folding of origami swans—has inspired and soothed humans throughout history.

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5 Easy Origami Ideas

Feeling inspired after learning about the origami swan? This meaningful medium is loaded with projects to try. Here are a handful of easy origami tutorials for your crafting calendar:

Swan Paper Craft Techniques

While a simple origami swan can be made by beginners with just a few simple, step-by-step folds, not all origami swans are that simple to create. Making a traditional origami swan calls for creating a figure or shape from a single sheet of folded paper. You can find countless origami swan instructions online as well as general origami tutorials and tips for making easy origami swans. Our roundup of easy origami projects offers a helpful starting point.

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Modular origami is a 3D folded paper art in which figures are created by assembling prefolded shapes into elaborate sculptures. A typical modular swan, which might be used as a centerpiece at a wedding ceremony, could be built from hundreds of folded triangles. These elaborate modular origami swans are a true labor of love, so add them to your list of origami goals if you're a beginner.

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Necessary Materials for Origami Swans

The only material used in constructing or folding an origami swan (or any origami bird for that matter) is a square piece of paper, but paper type makes an enormous difference in the finished appearance of each swan. Luckily, you can find an array of origami paper at most craft stores, with the most common being traditional Japanese kami, a thin and easily foldable variety that's both versatile and pleasing to the eye.

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If you'd like to create visual depth, multicolored square sheets can add interesting accents to each swan's wings and beak. Want to get even more creative? A modular origami swan made entirely of folded dollar bills makes a popular and unique table decoration or gift for a graduation party or baby shower. Origami projects can easily be personalized depending on your paper choices, so let your imagination pave the way.

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Because paper origami swans can be made with such basic and simple folds, they make a great base for experimenting with various sizes, colors and styles of paper. Try folding origami swans with patterned paper or with found paper, like the comic section of the newspaper.

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With practice, attention to detail and a bit of patience, you'll be creating gorgeous and meaningful origami swans—and loads of other DIY paper treasures—in no time.

Looking for a bit more guidance as you dive into the world of origami? Check out some of the best origami kits for beginners, which include step-by-step instructions to get you started.

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