How to Make Folded Paper Spirals

paper image by AGphotographer from

Things You'll Need

  • Colored paper (8 1/2-by-11 inches)
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Pencil

Paper spirals are elegantly simple and impressively complex, all at the same time. Though comprised of more folds than many animal or flower designs, they have a smoother and more regular shape. They make attractive desk ornaments, or can be hung from a string to create a mobile. They provide an affordable, whimsical and DIY way to decorate a space, or just a fun afternoon craft. Paper spirals are made without any difficult folds and are easy enough for beginners to master.

Using the ruler and pencil, draw a line 6 inches from one of the long sides.

Cut along the line. Your paper should now measure 6-by-11 inches.

Using the ruler, divide the sheet into 12 parts horizontally and six parts vertically. To divide the paper this way, make 11 tick marks spaced equally at 0.9 inches along the long side. Then space five tick marks at 1.2-inch intervals along the shorter side.

Fold the paper at the tick marked positions first horizontally, and then vertically. Use only mountain folds for both the horizontal and the vertical folds. Make a mountain fold by folding the distant edge of the paper away from you. When you unfold the paper, the crease will point up, resembling a mountain. You should now have a piece of paper that is divided into 72 little boxes by the mountain folds.

Vallye folds point downward, while mountain folds point upward.
zig zag rouge image by Magalice from

Starting at one of the long edges of the paper, fold a diagonals in each of the little boxes. You will work with only one row at a time. Use a valley fold: fold the paper toward you, so that when you unfold it, the crease points down, resembling a valley. You should use a valley fold for all of the diagonals. As you move along the row of first boxes, alternate the angle that you fold the diagonal. When you are done with the row, it should look like a zig-zag line and be entirely folded out of valley folds.

Move to the row next to the row you just folded. Fold the diagonals of this row in exactly the same way. When you have finished, you should have another zig-zag line that is parallel to the first one.

Repeat this with all of the ten remaining rows. All of the zig-zag lines should "spoon" each other. At this point you have pre-creased the project. Open up all of the folds so that you have a flat piece of paper.

Orient the paper so that one of the narrow ends is facing you. Using the bottom row of squares, fold along all of the pre-creased diagonal lines. As you re-fold along the already creased lines, the squares should overlap and form a twisting cylinder. Pull the flap that was created when you folded this end into a cylinder. Pull it onto the top of the cylinder end to finish the end in a twist.

Move up a row and fold those squares along their pre-creased diagonals to include them in the twist.

Repeat with the next column until the whole page has been incorporated into the twist. Once you have finished folding all of the rows, you have finished your spiral.


  • Take care not to reverse the direction of any of the folds when you are folding your pre-creased sheet into the spiral. Mountain folds need to stay mountain folds, and valley folds should remain valley folds.


About the Author

Tracy Hruby has been writing since 2006. Her work has been featured in local publications, including "Prism Magazine," and in a collection of sociological poetry. In 2010, her work was selected by the Kennedy Center of American College Theater Festival. She graduated from Oregon State University with a Bachelor of Arts in English.

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