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I've only had experience dry-folding. The one and only time I attempted to wet fold, the paper disintegrated. How do I know when the paper's absorbed the appropriate amount of moisture for wetfolding, where it won't tear along the folds, yet remain pliable long enough to get through the entire model?

Addendum: I've been using typing/printer paper, given that I knew I was liable to screw up a lot at the beginning.

  • It is not only the tecnique to moist the paper, it is also the kind of paper itself that matters. What kind of paper did you use? – user117 May 3 '16 at 13:28
  • Printer paper. I wasn't planning on being too ambitious my first time out. I clearly overwet it; but subsequent tries haven't taught me the "sweet spot" or correct times to rewet. – inkista May 3 '16 at 19:49
  • I sometimes used printer paper to try some dryfolding origami, but I think it is really not suitable. In the case of wetfolding, it is probably too absorbent to achieve the desired result. – user117 May 4 '16 at 7:10
  • @LuciaBentivoglio ...and you're not posting "you need sized paper" as an answer because....? :) – inkista May 4 '16 at 16:34
  • I never actually tried wetfolding, so I don't have a real answer for you. I just think that explaining the type of paper you used would improve the question. – user117 May 5 '16 at 8:31
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The amount of water to use will very much depend on the kind of paper you use. Thick watercolor paper can absorb a lot of water and still stay intact while copy paper will disintegrate or at least tear with even a little moisture. This behavior depends on the paper's thickness, fibre length and sizing. Most wet folding tips found on the web (e.g. about using a spray bottle) apply to thicker paper and not to copy paper. Personally, I have never been able to wet fold copy paper and be happy about the result - it comes apart with even very little water.

So, first of all, I suggest you get some watercolor paper, 160-300 gsm for a start. Such papers are widely available in artist supply stores and not terribly expensive. Canson Mi-Teintes is a popular brand that comes in many colors but others should do as well. Then, retry your folding sequence and you should see a huge difference compared to copy paper.

The exact amount of water to use is unfortunately a matter of practice, but when I started wet folding, I always used too much rather than too little. It is easier to re-moisten paper than to dry it quickly, so better start with a smaller amount. You have to remoisten as you fold anyway. For most models, your paper should be damp but not soaking. While 160 or 300 gsm paper feels very stiff and almost not foldable at all when dry, with the right amount of water added it should feel leathery and be able to roll along a smooth curve easily. For some models, you only moisten a certain area of the paper at a time rather than the whole sheet. Also note that moisture takes some time to penetrate the paper, so you should wait a few seconds before applying moisture and checking if the paper has the right properties.

The rest is a matter of experience, so start with thicker paper and give it a try once more.

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Well I found this site explaining step by step how to do wet folding origami.

The most important part related to your question is this. (they recommend using a spray bottle for dampening the paper).

The technique is called "wet-folding", yet you don't want to wet the paper, but rather to only moisten it. Spray the sheet with a fine mist from about 30cm away, wipe the paper with the cloth to spread moisture evenly, and quickly repeat on the other side of the sheet, before it curls. The paper should not be wet! It should only be slightly damp, not shiny with water. You should feel how it gives less resistant to manipulation, a little like a piece of leather.

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  • Hate to say it, but those are exactly the type of instructions I found that led to my first disintegrated paper attempt. :) But yes, this is the basic advice on wet-folding. Upvoted. – inkista Apr 28 '16 at 16:46

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