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.
Use the dollar notepads or list pads in the bargain bins at your craft store.
This page is organized with the origami water bomb as the beginning step to creating and making pattern variations of your own.
My first suggestion is to pull out some scrapbook paper, colored printer paper or the printed stationery paper for the letters you never sent out.
So get out your 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
Follows is a 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.
- Fold corner to corner. Open.
- Fold the other corner to corner. Open.
- Fold one side to the other side. Open.
- Fold the other side to side. Open.
- The folds will look like the picture above.
- Now make the tile into an origami water bomb base
- Squish the sides in to create a double triangle
- With your double triangle flat, swing the left side to the right and fold up to meet the center.
Now your unit should look like this.
- 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 Star—(P.S. I Switched Paper for Better Pictures.)Click 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 instructions.
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.
The fold at the right is from one of their books titled "More Tea Bag Folding: Celtic and Oriental Designs".
Mixed Media: Fanciful Seaweed
New Arrangement for Fold Above—Lesson 2
Another variation of the water bomb fold.
- Start with the water bomb base following steps 1-4 from Lesson One.
- Make eight units making sure the patterns end up all the same.
- Now unfold them and fold down the two top corners to the center.
- The creases will already be there from your previous folding.
- Squish the sides in. The shape is the triangle with the diamond on top. Now you have a unit that looks like Step 5. The diamond folds are
- The shape is the triangle with the diamond on top. Now you have a unit that looks like Step 5. The diamond folds are
- Now you have a unit that looks like Step 5. The diamond folds are
- The diamond folds are inside, causing it to pop up even more than in Lesson One.
- Your unit should look like the photo to the right. Fold all the tiles in the same manner.
- Hint: The white excess on the lower left can be trimmed off for a cleaner look.
- Take the right wing and fold into the center as in the photo to the left.
- The point will be pointing down.
- Do the same to the left wing.
- 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.
The back of your project should look like this.
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 the scrapbooking paper that is a heavier thickness. Your star will be three dimensional and use it as a gift box topper.
Our New Variation as a Greeting Card
The project we just finished is the card on the left. A punch out die cut frame matches nicely. The card on the right is our assembled like the star in our first lesson. This is a good example how the same paper can look different with each project fold.
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.
These two lessons gave you variations of the same basic pattern.
Start with the basic origami water bomb, use some imagination, and you are armed with many projects to keep you busy.
See the water bomb working at Tea Bag Folding Christmas Tree Pattern and More for instructions on a Pretty Holiday Tree for Christmas using the origami fold.
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, tea bag folding paper and flat unit origami.
Flat Unit Origami Framed
© 2008 Sherry Venegas