Tutorial Thursday 3D Origami or Golden Venture Origami


Golden Venture Folding, also known as Chinese Paper Folding or 3D origami, is a type of modular origami. Models are made by folding hundreds of small triangles from different colors of paper and interlocking them together. The wedges of paper grip each other to minimize the need for adhesive, although a small amount of glue is sometimes used.

The name Golden Venture Folding comes from an incident that sparked a fierce debate over immigration practices in the United States. In June 1993, a group of 286 Chinese men and women tried to enter the US illegally on a large cargo ship known as Golden Venture. There was a struggle on the ship and 10 people drowned in their escape attempt. The ship, Golden Venture, wrecked off the coast of New York City. When the survivors reached the US, they were taken into custody by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and detained while they applied for the right of asylum. Fifty-two of the refugees were sent to York County Prison in Pennsylvania and were held there for nearly four years. To help pass the time during their incarceration, they began making elaborate paper sculptures. The refugees made more than 10,000 paper sculptures. The paper sculpture were sold at charity fundraisers and given as gifts to the people who were working to help the refugees gain their freedom.

The models created by the Golden Venture refugees were shown in a 2001 exhibit titled “Fly to Freedom: The Art of the Golden Venture Refugees.” This traveling exhibit was organized by the Museum of Chinese in the Americas in New York City. Golden Venture Folding also makes a brief appearance in the 2006 documentary Golden Venture.

To make one of the units for Golden Venture folding, a rectangular piece of paper is folded in half lengthwise. The left and right sides are then brought down to meet the center. Mountain fold the left and right sides diagonally to form a diamond shape. Mountain fold the diamond in half to make a triangle. Mountain fold the triangle in half once more to finish the unit. Connect individual units by slipping the points into the pockets.



Learning how to make the triangular units that form the base of all 3D models is a vital skill for anyone interested in this type of paper art.

Golden venture folding Unit

There are a variety of ways to make the basic triangular unit, but the method shown here is probably the most efficient in its use of paper. This is particularly important when you are making models that require hundreds of triangular units.

  1. Start with a square sheet of paper and cut it into 4 strips. Fold the strips in half crosswise.
  2. Fold the bottom-left and bottom-right edges up to meet the midline.
  3. Turn the model over.
  4. Fold the top-left and top-right corners towards the middle of the unit.
  5. Fold the triangular tab down on both sides.
  6. Fold the right side onto left side. The directionality is critical here. Do not fold the left side behind the right half.
  7. When done, the unit should have two tabs and two pockets.

Here are some pictures of a recent peacock I made! This was a gift for a dear friend for Christmas. What do you think?

DSC04919 DSC04920 DSC04921

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