Ship Ahoy!

Full-rigged ship

“There’s nothing – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as messing about in boats.”
Kenneth Grahame, The Wind In The Willows

About the Full-Rigged Ship Model

There were a lot of very good origami models produced a few years ago that have since gone out of fashion. The origami world is full of Ancient Dragons and Kawasaki Roses, but some of the really imaginative designs from the 1970s and 80s aren’t as popular as perhaps they should be. I quite like championing these older models and I’ve featured a couple of them on this site already – a Skier and The Last Waltz. This Origami Full-Rigged Ship, designed by Patricia Crawford is another one, dating from the early 1970s.

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Folding the Full-Rigged Ship

This is an intermediate level design. It uses one of the most interesting bases I’ve seen in origami – a bird base with another, smaller bird base folded in the middle. It’s not the easiest thing in the world to assemble! If you can fold a closed sink you can make this model.

It takes about half an hour to fold this Ship. Well, it took me half an hour to fold it, but a chunk of that was fighting with the paper to assemble that bird-base-in-a-bird-base! If you can find a way to collapse this base quickly and easily, you can probably get that down to about twenty minutes.

Paper choice is important for this model. I have made it from several paper types, including ordinary origami paper or kami, a laminate of tissue paper and unryu, and a laminate of tissue paper and elephant hide – as in the picture above. There’s a bit of a trade-off here – the hull of the ship is several layers of paper thick by the end so a thin paper would help, but the paper must also be quite robust as the sails don’t have a lot of structural integrity and can flop about a bit if the paper isn’t strong enough. I think elephant hide is a good choice – particularly if wet-folded, or a tissue paper and aluminium foil laminate. Sara Adams has made this very successfully using foil. The best example I know of is by Gabriel Vong. I’m not sure what paper he used, but I suspect this is a foil laminate as well.

I would recommend a reasonably large square of paper for this Ship – about 24cm (9.5in) a side works well. Much smaller than this and it will be difficult to form the crimps that make the sails.

Diagrams for the Origami Full-Rigged Ship

There are a couple of places to get the diagrams for the Full-Rigged Ship. They were first published in Origami Step by Step, by Robert Harbin in 1974, which is long out of print, but it is easy enough to get hold of a copy from a quick google search and this is worth doing as the book has several interesting models in it.

The best bet though is Creating Origami by J.C. Nolan. This is an absolute classic and should be on any origami enthusiast’s bookshelf. It has been brought back into print following an online campaign and is available on Amazon here.

Get Involved

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