How to Fold a Traditional Origami Windmill (aka Pinwheel)

Traditional Windmill

This traditional origami windmill model is better known as Pinwheel in the USA. It’s another one of those designs like a paper airplane that a lot of people will be familiar with from their childhood, but might not immediately recognise as origami, simply because they’ve never thought about it that way.

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It’s very simple to make and takes less than five minutes.  The origami windmill is a great model for beginners or children to fold.  (Check out more easy origami models for kids here.)

If you attach the finished paper pinwheel to a stick or a length of dowling rod it will spin round in the wind quite successfully.  If you do intend to do this, use some quite thick paper so that it doesn’t get destroyed in the first puff of wind. The more colourful the paper you can find, the better! I’ve made this windmill out of gold foil paper.

Why not try making several paper pinwheels and arranging them at different heights in a plant pot? Just remember to bring them inside when it rains.  I will be writing about how to preserve origami models in a later post.

Difficulty: Simple
Paper: Something reasonably thick and brightly coloured!  If you need some origami paper, I recommend using folded square, which you can order here.
Time to fold: About 5 minutes.

Origami Windmill Instructions Step by Step

1. Start with a square of paper, white side upA square of paper, white side up
2. Fold the paper in half, edge to edgeFold in half, edge to edge and unfold
3. Fold both edges in to the centre lineFold both sides to the centre line
4. Fold the top edge to the bottom edge and unfoldFold the top edge to the bottom and unfold
5. Fold the top and bottom edges to the centre line and unfoldFold the top and bottom edges to the centre line and unfold
6. Fold the right edge up to meet the crease line made in the previous step and unfoldFold the right edge up to the crease and unfold
7. Fold the left edge up to meet the crease line made previously and unfoldFold the left edge up to the crease and unfold
8. Squash fold the bottom: open up the layers at the bottom and fold the sides out along the creases made in the previous step. The bottom edge will automatically want to fold up to the middle line. See the next picture for the result.Squash fold the bottom flap
9. Repeat the squash fold at the top.Squash fold the top flap
10. Fold the bottom right flap down so the edge lies along the centre crease.Fold the top layer on the right down
11. Fold the top left flap up so the edge lies along the centre creaseFold the top left flap up
The completed windmillThe completed windmill

To make the origami pinwheel spin, push a map pin (like this) through the centre and attach it to a stick or a length of wooden dowling rod.  The origami windmill will spin if you tap it with your finger, blow on it, or take it outside if there is a light breeze.

Get Involved

I’d love to hear your views on this origami windmill/pinwheel or any other beginner origami models.  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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