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How to Make an Origami Pinwheel

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Pinwheels have been a popular springtime toy for hundreds of years. A pinwheel can provide a child with hours of entertainment. You can purchase plastic pinwheels at any toy store, but it's fairly easy to learn how to make an origami pinwheel.

The origami pinwheel instructions featured in this tutorial are a traditional design found in several origami books. This origami pinwheel is generally considered a beginner project, but younger children will likely need some adult assistance.

You can make your origami pinwheel from whatever size of origami paper you wish, as long as the paper is square. Try conducting your own science experiment and seeing how the size and thickness of the paper affects the way in which the pinwheel spins.

This origami model does a great job of showcasing the pattern of your origami paper, so it's a good choice for using up some of the pretty Chiyogami papers in your supply stash. Make a cluster of pinwheels in coordinating patterns to create a fun springtime centerpiece for your table.

1. Make the Horizontal and Vertical Folds

origami pinwheel
© Dana Hinders

Begin making your origami pinwheel by placing the paper on a flat surface with the back side of the paper facing up. Valley fold the paper in half horizontally, then unfold. Valley fold in half vertically, the then unfold.

When you're finished with this portion of the origami pinwheel, your project should look like the paper in the photo to the left. You do not need to draw the lines on your paper. They are for demonstration purposes only.

2. Gate Fold

origami pinwheel
© Dana Hinders

Make a vertical gate fold by folding both the left and right sides of the paper in towards the middle crease. Crease firmly, then unfold.

Make a horizontal gate fold by folding both the top and bottom sides of the paper in towards the middle crease. Crease firmly, then unfold.

When you're finished with this portion of the origami pinwheel, your project should look like the paper in the photo to the left.

3. Make the Diagonal Folds

origami pinwheel
© Dana Hinders

Valley fold the paper in half diagonally, forming a triangle. Crease firmly, then unfold. Valley fold the paper in half diagonally from the opposite direction, forming a triangle. Crease firmly, then unfold.

When you're finished with this portion of the origami pinwheel, your project should look like the paper in the photo to the left.

4. Make the Pinwheel Points

origami pinwheel
© Dana Hinders

Finish your origami pinwheel by using the folds as a guide for pushing the paper in form the points of the pinwheel. Start at the top left corner and push in to make the point that is facing the top of the photo to the left, then make the bottom left hand corner point. Once you've done this, the other points of your pinwheel will seem to "fall" into place.

Lightly go over all of the creases with your thumb.

5. Finish Your Origami Pinwheel

origami pinwheel
© Dana Hinders

Use a thumbtack, pin, or scrapbook to attach your pinwheel to a chopstick, wooden dowel, or pencil. I like to use a scrapbook brad and an unsharpened pencil with an eraser cap so there are no pointy or sharp edges to worry about. Blow on your origami pinwheel gently to make it spin.

If you're not interested in making pinwheels for children to play with, keep in mind that this design is great as an embellishment for a handmade greeting card or scrapbook page because it is lightweight and lies flat when folded properly. Add a decorative brad to the center for the perfect finishing touch.

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