It’s been ages since I properly indulged in folding paper things, and yet more ages since I attempted to design an original origami object of my own. In keeping with the festive mood of Diwali, and some prior experience in this regard, I decided to create a design for an origami Diwali diya, the open clay oil-lamp traditionally lit in homes for the Indian festival of lights.
In a previous lifetime, when I was still wearing a uniform and attending school, I had designed an origami diya of this sort, but that was more remix and hack than original creation. I used modified versions of two appropriate origami objects to assemble a Diwali diya which was very convincing in its form. This time, however, I wanted to start from scratch and I wanted to create the whole thing from a single piece of paper. After a few miss-steps the design you see above resulted, and this is how it is made.
Paper Folding Steps
01] This design require a square piece of paper. You could use one of those small square note papers so popular in offices, or good coloured Japanese origami paper if you have some around, or even just regular photocopy paper cut down to a square. Since this design doesn’t involve very complex or layered folding, almost any paper of some strength will work.
02] Fold the square sheet in half down its diagonal.
03] Fold one of the top side edges of the square to align with the diagonal crease.
04] Fold the opposite side of the square in a similar way on to the diagonal crease to create this tall diamond shape.
05] Fold the broad downward pointing triangle at the bottom towards the top, along the edge created by the two folded flaps.
06] Fold the top arrow-shaped section of the shape down along one of the top edges of the triangle you just folded upwards, and create a crisp crease.
07] Repeat the same fold on the opposite side and open up the newly creased flaps and the bottom triangle to get this pattern of folds on the paper.
08] The top section of the original diagonal crease now needs to be folded inside-out, to get the nose of the design point upward, in a perpendicular to the rest of the sheet.
09] Folded flat along the diagonal, it should form this beak-like shape now, which will eventually form the flame pat of this lamp.
10] Opening up the shape and placing the entire form flat as it originally was, fold the base triangle in half, taking the bottom corner to meet the corners of the flaps above it, where they meet along the diagonal crease.
11] Fold the newly-formed short trapezoid shape upwards, along the old triangular crease.
12] Hold one of the raised triangular sides flat next to the trapezoid to ready it to create the base form of the lamp.
13] Fold the bottom corner of the entire shape to meet the corresponding top corner of the trapezoid shape as shown.
14] Create similar folds for both bottom corners to make the shape shown above.
15] Unfold the two corners, and unfold the trapezoid downwards. Fold the side corners to the middle as shown to create a crease that is perpendicular to the base of the trapezoid and joins its top corners.
16] Do this on both sides, left and right, to for the inward-facing, standing corner shapes seen above.
17] Open up the original long folds that you started with, and fold the same edges of the square to align with the long slant creases, as show above.
18] This needs to be repeated on both sides and then the new narrow slant fold needs to be refolded on itself along the original slant crease to form the shape towards the top half of the image above.
19] With the new thinner triangular shapes forming a side wall, make sure the inside-facing corners seen earlier are clearly defined.
20] Unfold the long side triangle upwards and flatten the corner against the side as shown.
21] Fold the side triangle back down over the flattended corner shapes to trap it flat and to form a box-like corner as shown.
22] Unfold the bottom triangular flap upwards and fold it in half on the inside as demonstrated above.
23] Fold the entire thing back down again to create this short and broad trapezoid flap as part of the back wall of the lamp base.
24] Once again refold the beak-like form at the pointed end of the shape to create the basic flame shape for this origami model.
25] On the bottom side of the model, this is what you should see. The triangular front and the flat back should have sharp folds while the sides should be a blunt and curved fold but not quite a crease. Not folding that fully keeps the entire form solid and prevents it from collapsing along all the sharp creases.
26] Twist and fold the flame shape on itself, towards the front to one side, as shown.
27] Twist it on the other side in a backward direction to create a more organic flame shape.
28] With the side and back walls of the base formed and joined cleanly at the corners, and with an upright flame shape created in the front, the origami Diwali lamp is ready. It’s a nice and simple stand-alone model that could just as easily be floated on water, as the traditional Diwali lamps sometimes are. The shape of the flame can be tweaked and played with to create variations.
This then is my new version of an origami Diwali diya or oil lamp. I like the simplicity of the form, the fact that it creates a proper three-dimensional object, and that it can be replicated and duplicated quite quickly, and in a variety of sizes, once you learn the folds; Perfect to add to your Diwali decoration arsenal, or just as a pretty object to place around your home. After all, lamps and lights or not restricted to any season or festivities, and elegant origami is always a welcome accent.
P.S. – If you want to save these instructions for quick reference later or want to share them with others, here is a single large tutorial image with all the folding basics: