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One of my future projects involve folding A LOT of origami stars and crane eggs and turn it into a curtain. However, I want to insure that my hard (and very tedious) work do not go to waste by making it waterproof.

Here are images of both the origami star and cranes egg:

origami stars and cranes eggs

To fold these you start with a thin piece of paper about 5/16 - 1/2 inch wide and about 8-11 inch long.

Criteria (in order of importance):

  • Waterproof (enough to withstand some splashes of rain if the window is ever left open accidentally)
  • "pliable" enough to fold but firm/thick enough to keep the shape of the origami
  • Come in long strips of about 5/16 - 1/2 inch wide
  • Able to come in multiple colors
  • Relatively inexpensive

Some materials I've tried:

  • Waxed paper(used in the kitchen) - These fit the waterproof and inexpensive criteria but needs to be manually trimmed to size. They also don't have enough weight to really hope the shape of the origami too well.
  • Satin ribbon(used in gift wrapping) - These were beautiful and water proof but were too cloth-like and unable to hold the shape of the origami.
  • Laminated strips of paper - These were annoying to prep and too rigid and thick to fold into the origami.

I'm willing to compromise on one or two criteria if it at least greatly meets three of my criteria. Optimally hoping theres some magical material that perfectly meets my needs though.

  • How waterproof does it need to be? Does it need to actually be submerged under water for a time, or does it just need to be rain/splash resistant? – JPhi1618 May 24 '16 at 13:54
  • @JPhi1618 Since I am using it as curtains I want it to be at least water resistant enough to not fall apart if I ever leave the window open while its raining. – Jay May 24 '16 at 13:55
  • 1
    (Comment, not answer, because I've never actually tried this) My first thought was floral ribbon - it's often embossed to look like fabric, but it's really just non-woven polyester. It'll take a crease, and it should be quite waterproof enough for your purposes. – Martha May 24 '16 at 14:46
  • May I suggest a sheer curtain liner? It would still allow the nice color effects that occur when the light is going through the origami. – aparente001 Dec 9 '17 at 3:06
17

You could try using palm fronds, which can be woven to make beautiful stars and patterns:

enter image description here enter image description here enter image description here

For more details about the craft of palm weaving, see this question and the links given in its answer (disclaimer: answer posted by me).

They're obviously waterproof, since they come from plants which are naturally found in wet conditions. They come in long strips, which are (perhaps surprisingly) pliable enough to be folded into intricate shapes but also strong and tough enough to stay in shape. They should be inexpensive, at least if you're living in the right region (e.g. somewhere there's a strong Catholic community with a tradition of palm-weaving). The only criterion they don't meet is being able to come in multiple colours, but it might be possible to paint the palm fronds before folding them, if you can find a paint that works well on organic material like this.

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  • + 1: This is actually really creative. And the lighter color of the back compared to the darker front of the fronds can make for interesting designs. Thanks for the suggestion! – Jay May 24 '16 at 14:40
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    unpainted/dyed fronds will also fade as the chlorophyll breaks down. The fronds my mom puts up every year turn a pale beige color well before next years Palm Sunday. – Dan Is Fiddling By Firelight May 25 '16 at 13:17
13

Plastics comes to mind. I use flexible circuit inside of keyboards to create some fun stuff. Some are made of polyester film. Plastics would come in a variety of colours so that should not be an issue. If you have the right thickness it will hold its form very well. Something like the start could be an issue as non complete creases might try to relax back to flat. A little applied heat could help mitigate that.

It would be waterproof (some metal components of the circuit could rust. I am making a case for plastics more though). Easy to work by hand. Some force would be required for hard creases. Cheap for certain and you should be able to get all sorts of sizes. Cutting with a craft knife to get the shapes you need.

I have known those crane eggs as Toshie's Jewel's. Those are based on the sonobe modules. Proof of my suggestion comes from a icosahedron I have made of 4 inch squared keyboard circuits.

icosahedron

Without some searching I am not sure how easy this would be to source outside of keyboards but I imagine it would not be too hard to just find plastic sheets.

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  • Wonderfully creative. I wondered what you meant by keyboard crafts. – user24 May 25 '16 at 2:31
  • I work for a company where we make things from plastic foils and I have used waste of the process to do origami with. But be careful that the plastic is stable for a longer while, even when out in the sun. Many of the ones we work with are only guarantied for a year when out in the sun and that is for a company where the products often have to be out in the sun. Most for sale will be lower sun/UV resistant. – Willeke Apr 15 '18 at 13:52
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Waterproof paper

My company needed to travel with some spec sheets through a rain-forest area. We used waterproof laser printer paper so the sheets wouldn't be ruined by the rain. The product was called Revlar. Here is a link to their website

enter image description here

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    Yikes $109 for 100 sheets! – Jay May 24 '16 at 19:39
  • @Jay There are other sources for waterproof paper but that is a little high. They dominate the first few google hits for waterproof coloured paper. I have a small notebook make of it that was not that expensive. It was white lined so it wouldn't make for very appealing folded paper. – Matt May 24 '16 at 19:41
10

Instead of finding special paper, you could try a preservation or waterproofing spray that works on paper.

Krylon makes a product called Preserve It that does just that. Using it on your paper should be suitable for holding up against some rain. I found a mention that one user uses paper sticker labels on jars and washes the jars without issue.

Using this type of product, you could just spray your paper of choice beforehand and fold away. Then you don't need to worry about working with an unfamiliar material or a limited color/design selection.

As a bonus, since you'll be putting your project in windows, a spray like this will help protect against UV rays, so your colors won't fade so quickly in the sunlight.

You would also be able to reapply it as time goes on, at least to the surface of the finished product.

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  • Hairspray is reputed to work as well. (Not sure if it all hair sprays but experiment or research online for recommendations.) – Willeke Apr 15 '18 at 13:57
7

Something that immediately came to mind for me was one of my favorite origami papers: Foil Paper.

enter image description here

This paper has a metal foil on one side for a great shiny appearance, and has a paper backing to make it easier to work with.

The foil layer will provide a degree of water protection, but when making creases, you don't want to fold too tightly to avoid breaking the foil layer.

This is something you will have to try on your own. Some designs may end up with a lot of crevices that will still be able to hold water or allow water to get to the paper backing. Even if water does get to the paper, the foil will help hold the shape as the paper dries.

If you need longer strips, you can also find gift-wrapping paper that has a foil layer. It will perform similarly, but foil wrapping paper tends to have a thicker paper layer.

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3

You can get metal foils which are think enough to fold easily but stiff enough to hold their shape. For example copper foil around 0.05mm thick should work well.

Another approach is to use whatever paper you want and then apply a waterproofing agent afterwards, for example shellac dissolved in alcohol will effectively seal porous materials without having much effect on their surface texture or you could try spray on lacquers or something like scotchguard or a silicone spray.

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3

You could fold them out of mylar or poly plastic sheets--there are a lot of packaged origami sheets that are made of plastics (holographic, transparent). You can laminate the plastic sheet to foil with spray adhesive if it doesn't hold shape or creases well enough for you on its own. Typical foil papers and home-made tissue foil probably won't do what you want, because the foil layer is typically very thin, and can break along the folds and expose the paper fibers.

If you don't mind losing edge definition, you could just fold out of paper, and then rubberize the pieces by dipping/spraying them with the rubber dip they make for coating tool handles (e.g., clear Plasti Dip). Or you could coat them with a clear spray acrylic, but that would probably only make them water-resistant, rather than waterproof.

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3

How about Tyvek?

It's mostly used to weatherproof buildings and in protective clothes, but it's also available in sheets.


  • It's waterproof.
  • It feels just like paper (you can buy an envelope made of the stuff to try it out without buying a hundred yards)
  • Some suppliers will cut it for you to whatever width you'd like.

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  • You might even be able to get some of this from a finished build job in your area (If it is used). Not sure how well it would hold a crease though. At least not the stuff I have seen on buildings. Don't suppose you tried folding it at all? So far it has never occurred to me to try. – Matt May 25 '16 at 3:45
  • @Matt, coincidentally, crafts.stackexchange.com/a/419/20 :) – inkista May 25 '16 at 4:38
  • Correction, Tyvek is produced in colours, but at this time you need to buy very much (container load size) if you buy it at the factory. You might be able to find it sold by a company that uses it. But Tyvek does take colour well, you could experiment with colouring it yourself. It does fold well and holds creases when pressed in well. – Willeke Apr 15 '18 at 14:01
0

A clear gloss nail polish will also work and costs around two dollars in Australia. It's not perfect as it will darken the colour of you paper and over time yellow white paper, however it's easy to find and easy to use and dries quickly.

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