While there are many different ways of forming an origami spinning top, this is one of the most aesthetic and also makes the best top. You can make an origami spinning top out of three same-sized pieces of origami paper. Make sure to use origami paper, which is light and thus easy to crease; it's almost impossible to make a good top out of heavier paper. Novice folders should use large paper for this project, while more advanced folders may enjoy the challenge of using smaller pieces of paper.
Start with a windmill base. See the Resources section for how to fold a windmill base.
Do a squash fold on each flap of the windmill. You're basically bringing the point of each flap in to the center of the square base.
Petal-fold each corner of the square. See the Resources section for more detail on how to do a petal fold.
Fold out the point of each flap between the petal folds as far as they'll go.
Fold each petal in toward the center of the paper.
Fold a sheet of origami paper in half from top to bottom, then again from side to side. With each fold, crease just the middle of the paper so that you have a cross or "plus" shape marking the exact center of the paper.
Bring each corner in to the center of the paper, forming a smaller square shape. This is called folding a blitz.
Make a second blitz by bringing the four corners of the smaller square in to its center, forming another square that's even smaller than the first.
Flip the folded square over so that the flaps are facing down, and bring the points of this square in to the center again--another blitz.
Turn the square over once more and fold out each of the flaps so that the center point meets the outside point on each corner of the square. This completes your second base.
Start with a blitz base--that is, all four corners of a square sheet of paper brought in to the center.
Fold two more blitzes, all on the same side. In other words, bring all the points of the square in toward the center again, then once more, for a total of three blitzes including the first blitz base.
Fold the square you have after three blitzes in half along each diagonal, crease, then unfold. Also crease through the middle of the square in each horizontal direction, then unfold. This forms creases that will guide your next folds.
Turn the square over so that all the flaps are facing down, then fold along the creases so that it looks like a four-pointed star with the middle poking up toward you.
Tuck each outside corner of the second base between the petals of the first paper you folded. Don't tuck in the upper flaps, just the stiff outside flaps.
Put each corner of the center star point inside the pockets of the second base.
Practice spinning the top. The center star point should face up and will be your handle for making the top spin.
Lisa Maloney is a travel and outdoors writer based in Anchorage, Alaska. She's written four outdoors and travel guidebooks, including the award-winning "Moon Alaska," and regularly contributes to local and national publications. She also has a background in personal training, with more than 6,000 hours of hands-on experience.