Paper craft or paper art is a collection of various art forms that involve usage of paper cards or normal paper as the main artistic medium for creation of attractive three-dimensional objects. Paper is easily the most extensively used material when it comes to the world of arts and crafts. It can be used in all sorts of ways for a wide range of art techniques, as you can easily layer, stitch, mold, glue, cut and/or fold the paper easily. Making paper by hand or the papermaking process is also considered an important kind of paper craft. Although calligraphy and painting are something which are commonly used for decoration purposes, they too are considered as separate and unique forms of paper crafts or paper arts.

The word paper crafts is often used in several cultures (that actively make use of paper) for referring to the certain type of crafts that bring out the creative aspect of paper and reflect the traits that are characteristic of those specific cultures or countries. If we talk about the Western countries, people staying there often use the term origami synonymously with the art of paper folding, despite it being of Japanese origin. Some other commonly known paper folding art forms are Zhezhi (the Chinese art of paper folding), Western paper folding including the traditional forms of paper planes and paper boats and the Korean Jong-i.e. –jeop-gi paper art.

Why paper?
Apart from the aesthetic value provided by the paper crafts, there are several paper craft forms which are actively used in children’s education too. So, why do you think paper is so actively used for satisfying people’s creative urges? Well, to begin, paper is readily available everywhere. Then, it is easy to work with (if compared to other more complicated media actively used in production of 3-D artworks like metals, wood and ceramics) and is a pretty inexpensive medium. Working with paper is also hassle free and neat when you compare with artworks done with dyes, paints and other types of coloring materials. Paper arts or paper crafts are also often used inside therapeutic settings, allowing children to make the most of their uncomplicated and safe surroundings, in order to use them as a creative outlet for expressing their feelings.

The history of paper
The word paper originates from the Egyptian term papyrus. Papyrus was the ancient material that used to be manufactured in Egypt with the help of beaten reeds, as long ago as 3000 BC. In fact, if you look at the history of paper craft per se, the earliest examples of paper folding come from nowhere but the ancient Egyptian map that was drawn on the papyrus and then given a folded form using rectangular shapes, just like in case of the modern day roadmaps. However, the practice of intricate paper folding working as an art form didn’t happen until the wood pulp-based papers were introduced in China. The invention of these papers can be credited to someone gong by the name Cai Lun from the Eastern Han Dynasty, going back as far as the 2nd century B.C. The earliest usage of folded paper in the form of some medium is still unknown, although it is believed to have started shortly after the paper came into existence. However, we can find the first traces of the Japanese origami art in the 6th century A.D.

The use of paper in various art forms
The times when people actively started using paper as the main medium for their artistic expressions is far behind us. Nowadays, many designers and writers actively make use of digital media for development and improvisation of their ideas. However, there’s something very interesting and particular about the physical canvas known as paper which keeps getting people back to it whenever they want to brainstorm their ideas. They either pen down their ideas on a paper notebook, collect inspirations in the form of scrapbooks, doodle around in some sketch book or simply draw some sketches on a paper canvas.
If you look closely, paper is in fact far more powerful than all these mediums or forms of expression. What sets it apart from other mediums is its high flexibility. Not only can you use paper for expression of your feelings and ideas, but also in the form of an expressive medium for creation of various art works. Creating those sharp edged paper ships are paper planes are something that we learned during our growing up years. If we explore their usage further, we could even venture into complicated geometrical shapes and/or twisted natural curves. The modern day paper art involves 3-D paper sculptures and beautifully folded, cut out or carved paper objects using card boxes, books, papers and other paper related objects.

A brief introduction to origami
The word origami is Japanese in origin and is a combination of ori (Japanese for folding) and kami (Japanese for paper). So, simply put, origami is the Japanese word for paper folding. It’s an art form that is commonly associated with the traditional Japanese culture. If we look at the modern usage of this term, it is often used inclusively for referring to various folding practices, no matter what their origin or culture may be. The main aim in origami is to transform a simple and flat sheet of paper square into some finished paper sculpture using certain sculpting and folding techniques. The modern-day practitioners of origami heavily discourage the usage of markings, glue or cuts on the paper. They actively make use of the Japanese term ‘kirigami’ for referring to the designs that make use of cuts to give artistic forms to the paper. If looked at closely, cutting is actually more common in the Chinese paper crafts.

You can easily use a small number of some basic origami folds, in all sorts of different ways for creation of intricate paper designs. Ever made a paper crane when you were small? That is the best known example of origami in the modern times. In most cases, the origami designs are created out of a single sheet of square paper, whose sides may or may not be of different patterns, prints or colors. The conventional Japanese origami, that has been in practice since the Edo period spanning from 1603 to 1867, has often been pretty lenient about these traditions, sometimes even encouraging the cutting of papers or usage of non-square paper sheets for origami creations. It should be noted that many origami principles are also actively used in packaging, stents and other kinds of engineering applications.