Origami Padlock by Ted Darwin


Today’s origami padlock model was inspired by a recent visit to Paris in which I got to see the Love Locks on the Pont Neuf bridge. Couples write their names on a padlock, attach it to the bridge and throw the key in the river to signify their love is eternal.  Sadly this romantic idea has got slightly out of control due to the number of padlocks.

The original preferred location was the Pont des Arts, but after part of the bridge collapsed due to the weight of the padlocks, the Paris authorities cut all the locks off and installed plexi-glass barriers along the handrails to prevent new ones from being attached. This hasn’t stopped people from putting up Love Locks.

They have moved to new locations such as Pont Neuf, or even the top of the Eiffel Tower. Realising the threat that the weight of all these padlocks represents to the city’s ancient monuments, Parisians now see Love Locks as graffiti or even vandalism. I wondered if there was an origami lock that could be used to allow this tradition to continue in a way that was non-destructive, and environmentally friendly.

Padlocks on Pont Neuf

This Origami Padlock was designed by Ted Darwin.  Originally the model was a padlock and key, but I thought it looked better without the key, so I remade it, leaving off the bit of paper that forms the key.

The origami lock model is pretty flexible when it comes to paper choice.  I’ve made this out of kami, and also successfully wet-folded it out of thick watercolour paper that gave it more rigidity (more on wet-folding in a later post).  This is probably the best bet if you actually want to use it as a Love Lock. The padlock pictured is made from an off-cut of brown elephant hide paper I had available, backed with silver wrapping paper.  This gives the model a traditional look, and also makes it quite robust.

Origami Padlock Diagrams

The diagrams for this model are in Ted Darwin’s pamphlet ‘Darwinism’, available from British Origami Society Supplies. It’s quite an old model these days in terms of modern origami designs, and it shows in the diagrams that call for the initial folds to be measured out on the paper using a ruler, instead of found using a series of folds to identify the reference points needed.

It is pretty simple to make, with only one slightly complex step in the folding sequence – the sink fold which is used to lock the two ends of the paper together to form the body of the padlock.  Other than that it is all valley and mountain folds, with crimp folds used for the arm.

Darwin’s diagrams call for this model to be made out of a rectangle that is 15in x 2in (38cm x 5cm) including the key. If you want to make the model without the key, as I have, you will need a 9.25in x 2in (23.5cm x 5cm) sized rectangle.

Difficulty: Simple (with one intermediate level fold)
Paper: Any, but thicker paper gives a more robust model. Brown and silver for a traditional look
Time to fold: 30 minutes, including time to cut the paper to the right size and measure where to fold

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I’d love to hear your views on this origami lock. Feel free to let me know what you think in the comments below, or you find can 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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