Origami Rat by Eric Joisel


Eric Joisel was one of the most gifted and inspirational artists in the history of origami.  His designs tend to be slightly whimsical, almost like a caricature. In some ways this makes his models seem more alive than those that try to accurately represent something in precise detail. His Origami Rat is a good example of this. It’s unmistakably a rat, but somehow it feels like an exaggerated version and almost friendly!

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Folding the Origami Rat

It’s an intermediate level model, requiring accurate folding at every stage to produce a good result.  It takes about 15 – 30 minutes to fold this, depending on how quick you fold, plus time at the end for final shaping.

It’s pretty forgiving when it comes to paper choice – even printer paper produces an acceptable result!  The paper should be coloured the same on both sides though, otherwise, the Rat will have a stripe along its head and down the tail where the reverse side of the paper comes through.  The paper should be at least 20cm x 20cm.  

I have chosen to make this one out of Lokhu paper, bought from the Origami Shop as I think the natural fibres in the paper give it a nice textured effect. I have also seen this folded well out of home-made tissue foil and paper treated with methyl cellulose.

Joisel himself recommended Elephant Hide paper and finishing the final shaping by wet folding (more to come on tissue foil, methyl cellulose and wet-folding in a later post).  He did acknowledge that because this is quite a heavy paper, the model will get quite thick and it “takes a lot of vitamins to press the numerous layers of the body”.

Origami Rat Instructions

  • Eric Joisel’s diagrams are available in the 2017 Autumn BOS Convention pack. (They are no longer available on Joisel’s website)
  • For video instructions check out this series created by Sara Adams


Note that there are a number of videos on YouTube showing how to make this model.  I have chosen to link to Sara’s video as all her instructions are created with the express permission of the designer. It’s one of her early videos and the quality isn’t the greatest, but it is good enough to follow and I fully support her stance on copyright and ethics in origami.

Link to Origami Shop:

Link to Origami Shop

Get Involved

I’d love to hear your views on this origami rat.  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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