Tea Bag Folding: a Flat Unit Origami Craft
Tea bag folding is a paper folding craft. Some enthusiasts compare it to origami because the basic origami folds are used, such as the water bomb and the square base to make flat units interlocked together into a "paper faceted" rosette shape.
It is as absorbing as origami because your output can be endless. Each finished paper craft project for card making or scrapbooking is as varied as a kaleidoscope.
If your curiosity is sparked, read on for information and instructions for three easy flat fold origami patterns to use for greeting cards and other ideas. If you feel compelled to see more there are some older book publications and over a dozen websites offering patterns, paper tiles, galleries and project ideas.
What Is Tea Bag Folding
This paper folding craft will keep you busy for some time. I was hooked almost at once. It is basically a flat unit origami technique.
Start with eight squares or tea bag tiles, all printed alike, and fold each the same, then interlock them together into a pie or medallion using a dab of glue.
The medallions or paper rosettes can be used for handmade cards, gift tags, or scrapbooking. You decide. Use specially printed tea bag folding paper or any paper that suits your fancy. The rosettes lay flat and are suitable for mounting on scrapbook pages and greeting cards to be sent in the mail.
This page is organized with the origami water bomb as the beginning step to creating and making pattern variations of your own.
Find some scrapbook paper, colored printer paper or the printed stationery paper for the letters you never sent out. Or use the dollar notepads or list pads in the bargain bins at the craft store.
Get out some paper and try the tea bag folding instructions that follow!
The pink rosette above was made from decorative handmade paper from Nepal. It is made from the lokta plant and is an ancient craft. The variety in the pack makes lovely variations and there are several different colors.
Two Pattern Variations of the Origami Waterbomb
Follow this step-by-step pattern for a tea bag fold medallion or star. This is the very first pattern that I learned from an instruction book bought at a scrapbooking fair.
You will need eight squares of paper cut 2x2 inches. I will refer to these squares as tiles and a glue bottle with a tip or a toothpick to dab glue.
- Start your pattern by folding your square 4 ways. Opening the tile up again after each fold as follows.
- With color side up. Fold corner to corner. Open.
- Fold the other corner to corner. Open.
- With white side up. Fold one side to the other side. Open.
- Fold the other side to side. Open.
- The folds will look like the picture above.
- Squish the sides in to create an origami water bomb or double triangle.
- With your double triangle flat, swing the left side to the right and fold up to meet the center.
- Do the same to the opposite side.
- Take the right side and swing to the left and fold up to the center.
- Your folded tile should look like the one above. It is a triangle with a pop-up diamond in the middle.
- Fold seven more tiles the same way.
Now It Is Time to Assemble the StarClick thumbnail to view full-size
Variations of Your Paper Rosette Above
Folding paper should not be something to hinder your creativity. Get what's out there. You do not have to use your printer or that expensive printer ink. Click photos below to get some tips.
Why Is It Called Tea Bag Folding?
Tea Bag Folding may have been around for a few decades by the responses I have heard at craft fairs. Nonetheless, it is thanks to an artist in Holland that it has worldwide recognition.
Tiny Van Der Plas came upon the name as she was sitting with her cup of tea. Of course, her artist mind was whirling and as she was thinking about a greeting she wanted to make, she was also working her fingers with the papers that covered her tea bags. European teas come in fancy papers. I am sure one thing led to another with her friend Janet Wilson.
They have written more than three books together about this fun craft. So it may have been around for decades but it is these two women that have given it a new name and sparked enthusiasts everywhere. Especially in England, Australia, and the United States.
Mixed Media with Paper Folding: Fanciful Seaweed
Another variation of the water bomb fold.
- Start with the water bomb base following steps 1 and 2 above.
- Unfold and turn the white side up.
- Make two folds toward the center as shown below.
- While folding the top half of the square down squish the sides in to create the fold above.
- How fold tips at the bottom of the triangle down and toward the center on both sides.
- Your tiles should look like the one above.
- Cut a scrap of paper into a one-inch square and glue four units onto it.
- Dab the glue at the tip of the triangle on the back as in the photo below. The diamond shape needs to be free of glue.
- You will slip the other units under them.
Dabbing the glue in the same manner as above, take the four remaining units and slip them under the flaps of the ones already glued onto the square.
Your finished project should look like this.
Gently bend up the four top units so there is a valley effect in the center.
Idea: Use tiles 3 inches and scrapbooking paper that is a heavier thickness. Your star will be three dimensional and idyll as a gift box topper.
Our New Variation as a Greeting Card
The project we just finished is the card on the left. The card on the right is Variation One. This is an example how the same paper can look different with folding variations.
Video Showing a Simple Fold
This tea bag fold is easy. Give it a try. Sometimes a video is best for some beginners.
I'm Curious--How Many Tried Rosie's Fold?
After seeing the video above. How many of you gave it a try?
Did everyone stop after one project?
Which statement best fits you after seeing the video above.
Start with the basic origami water bomb, use some imagination, and you are armed with many projects to keep you busy.
Another water bomb project can be viewed at Tea Bag Folding Christmas Tree Pattern with instructions for a holiday Christmas tree.
If you have a question or comment on these lessons feel free to leave one in the section that follows.
Find Out More About TBF on the Internet
To find out more from the Internet search for tea bag folding paper, flat unit origami, and tea bag folding.
Flat Unit Origami Framed
Questions & Answers
© 2008 Sherry Venegas