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Tea Bag Folding: A Flat Unit Origami Craft

Ms. Venegas has been using origami to make rosettes and medallions since 2003. She shares art/craft techniques and ideas online.

Tea bag folding, or flat unit origami

Tea bag folding, or flat unit origami

What Is Tea Bag Folding?

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.

Tea bag folding star

Tea bag folding star

How to Use Your Folded Art

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!

Greeting card with tea bag origami

Greeting card with tea bag origami

Greeting Card

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.

What Follows?

Two Pattern Variations of the Origami Waterbomb

Step One

Step One

Scroll to Continue

Read More From Feltmagnet

Variation One

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.

Step One

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.
Step Two

Step Two

Step Two

  • Squish the sides in to create an origami water bomb or double triangle.
Step Three

Step Three

Step Three

  • With your double triangle flat, swing the left side to the right and fold up to meet the center.
Fold the left tip up to the top of the triangle.

Fold the left tip up to the top of the triangle.

Step Four

  • 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.
The tips are folded under and up to the top

The tips are folded under and up to the top

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

teabagfolding

Variation Two

Another variation of the water bomb fold.

Step One

  • 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.
teabagfolding
Step Two

Step Two

Step Two

  • While folding the top half of the square down squish the sides in to create the fold above.
Step Three

Step Three

  • How fold tips at the bottom of the triangle down and toward the center on both sides.
teabagfolding
  • Your tiles should look like the one above.
Step Four - Assembly

Step Four - Assembly

Step Four

  • 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.
teabagfolding

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.

teabagfolding

Completed Rosette

teabagfolding
The back

The back

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

teabagfolding

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.

Did you try Rosie's fold?

After seeing the video above. How many of you gave it a try?

Did everyone stop after one project?

teabagfolding