In Search of an Origami Unicorn!

Unicorn, designed by Jo Nakashima

‘ “Do you know’, I always thought unicorns were fabulous monsters, too? I never saw one alive before!”
“Well, now that we have seen each other,” said the unicorn, “if you’ll believe in me, I’ll believe in you.” ’
Lewis Carroll – Through the Looking Glass

About this Origami Unicorn

I’ve been meaning to fold this for a while, and after seeing Terry Blas’s model on Twitter, I thought I would feature it on the blog this week. As regular readers of this blog will know, I think things with horns or wings tend to look very good in origami – including unicorns. There are quite a few different origami unicorn models and this one, designed by Jo Nakashima is one of the most popular to fold – probably because there are good quality video instructions available.

If I’m being critical, the trend in origami design today is for animal models to have an enclosed back, so that there are no gaps in the model when viewed from above.  The line along the length of the model should be unbroken and any gaps produced in the folding process should be hidden underneath.  Nakashima’s unicorn doesn’t meet this standard, but I forgive it anyway because I like the way it looks. 

I am a big fan of representational designs that focus on what is important without slavish attention to detail. This unicorn clearly looks like a unicorn, but still manages to pull off what I think is the greatest trick in origami: to retain that angular and slightly ‘clunky’ feel that is typical of an origami model, and yet still be simple, graceful, and look like it has curves. It’s a model with real character and I like it.

Folding the Origami Unicorn

This is an intermediate level design. The paper has to be sunk in several steps, but anyone that can manage an open sink or an outside reverse fold should be able to fold this model successfully.

Jo Nakashima recommends paper that is 20cm x 20cm (8in x 8in). This produces a unicorn that is approximately 13cm (5in) long from tail to horn, and 8cm (3in) tall.  Most paper will do, although unicorns are traditionally white. I recommend a sheet of tissue foil from origami-shop for this model. It takes about 25 minutes to fold.

Origami Unicorn Instructions

Jo Nakashima has made a video tutorial showing how to make an origami unicorn model. As with all Nakashima’s videos, the quality is very good. The picture is clear, and every step is accompanied by a diagram in the corner. For other origami tutorials, see his YouTube channel.

Get Involved!

If you have folded this origami unicorn model before, or if you liked the video, please feel free to get in contact, either by commenting below, or find me on Instagram or Twitter. Check out my Pinterest boards too!

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About the Author


Russell has been folding origami since he was 8 years old and has recently written the book, Origami Made Simple. He is on the Council for the British Origami Society and a member of OrigamiUSA. When he is not folding, he enjoys photography and traveling.

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