One of my all time favorite paper activities is kirigami and I couldn’t wait to wax poetic about this wonderful form of paper art during Paper Month on Babble Dabble Do! Add to that little science lesson and our Kirigami Water Blossoms are a project packed full of learning!
What is Kirigami?
Kirigami is similar to origami but incorporates cutting and folding a piece of paper to create a design. If you have ever made a paper snowflake by cutting a folded piece of paper you have done kirigami!
I first saw paper water lilies here on Handmade Charlotte and was captivated by the idea of using water to simulate a natural phenomenon. I also saw the experiment in my favorite book the Usborne Big Book of Science Things to Make and Do. And since I’m kind of a kirigami nut I thought this would be a great opportunity to combine a few kirigami basics with a pretty little science project.
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Basic Six-Sided Kirigami Base
Before making our Kirigami Water Blossoms, let’s learn how to make a six-sided kirigami base that can be used to create a number of projects including paper snowflakes, flowers and spider webs. Here’s how:
- Step 1 Start with a square piece of paper (origami paper is pre-cut in squares and is a great base)
- Step 2 Fold your paper in half
- Step 3 Now make a crease in your paper by folding it in half again and pressing down on the bottom edge
- Step 4 Open this fold back up
- Step 5 Using the crease as the starting point, fold your paper up at a roughly 60-degree angle on one side
- Step 6 Repeat with the other side
Your six-sided base is done! This base can be folded in half again for a 12-sided shape.
Kirigami Water Blossoms
- Several sheets of 6” x 6” lightweight paper-I recommend this lovely paper
- Kirigami Water Blossoms Template
I recommend making one blossom using our Kirigami Water Blossoms Template first. Once you have some practice cutting and folding these you will not need to use the template.
Folding & Cutting
- Steps 1 & 2 Cut out your outer blossom template and lay it over a sheet of 6”x 6” paper. Fold the two sheets according using the basic six sided base instructions above and the template as your guide.
- Step 3 Cut out the black sections of the template
- Steps 4, 5, & 6 Open up the cut flower and fold the petals along the dotted lines
- Step 7 Repeat for inner blossom using a 5 “ x 5” sheet of paper. Cut out circular center.
- Step 1, 2, & 3 Place the center circle in the middle of your inner blossom. Refold the petals to cover the circular center.
- Steps 4, 5, & 6 Place the inner blossom in the center of the outer blossom and refold the outer blossom petals to cover the inner blossom.
You’re done! Now grab a shallow tray or bowl and add water. It’s magic time!
Place your blossoms in the water and watch as they begin to open up as the paper absorbs the water! The outer blossoms should open up quickly, the inner blossom may take longer to absorb the water. When the blossoms have fully opened you may carefully remove them from the water and let them dry out. Once they are dry you can refold them and try the experiment again. My kids had a hard time keeping their hands off the flower petals as they opened but trust me the petals will open if you are patient!
On a side note DON”T THROW AWAY your kirigami paper scraps! We’ll be featuring a project very soon here that you will need lots of paper scraps for, so put them aside now….
What’s so scientific?
This is a simple experiment illustrating the properties of materials. Paper is essentially wood pulp ground up and dried. There are many materials whose basic properties change when they come into contact with water, think how your skin shrivels up in the bath, and wood is one of them. The fibers of the paper (wood) swell when the come into contact with water and the paper seems to magically open. What you are really watching is the material absorb water and expand.
This is definitely not an apples to apples comparison but when I think of projects that use water to make magic Crown Fountain in Chicago pops into my head. It’s an absolutely captivating art piece that uses water, video, and sculpture to make an unforgettable interactive experience for visitors. My kids LOVED it when we spent time in Chicago a couple of years ago. The fountain was designed by artist Jaume Plensa in 2004. So next time you are thinking of art materials or art experiences don’t forget about using water! It has so many magical properties!
We love water when it comes to science here on Babble Dabble Do. One of my favorite science and art activities is making ice sculptures. And if you are intrigued by the possibilities of Kirigami visit the Origami Resource Center online for basic tips and tricks.
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