I guess this is one of the most frequently asked questions after the size of the paper used to fold any origami model. With new and more complex (or should I say intricate?) origami models being designed these days, it is not a wonder that most of us are fumbling with the kind of paper to use.
Lokta / Unryu Paper:
Lokta are handmade from the inner bark of the bush and are made in the Himalayan mountain region. The Lotka paper is very strong, and is an incredible eco-friendly choice. It is made in Nepal and makes a good choice for paper folding. I have never folded anything from Lokta myself, though I have used Unryu.
Unryu paper is also known as Mulberry paper or rice paper and has a characteristic of fiber strands which add to the contrast (in color) and texture.
I have come across the mention of Paper Source as a good online store (here in USA, at least) for both – Lokta and Unryu, as well as a variety of Japanese and Asian papers. You get these in a patterned / printed as well as plain / solid colored form as far as I saw on their website. The size of papers is mostly 20 x 30 inches. They do have a smaller sized collection of papers, too. This store also has a variety of craft ideas, gifts, and projects that can keep you occupied 🙂
Origami-Shop offers a good selection of tissue foil paper in varying sizes and you can make your choice based on the size you want and the color. They also have a pack collection in which you will get a variety of colors to use – Pack Tissue-foil Papers – 20 sheets – 30x30cm (11.8″x11.8″). You can also select sheets of only a certain color such as Copper or Gold and these are sold separately on the site. You can check them out on under the Paper category / section.
Tant paper is a good selection for intermediate models, too. These can be wet folded and are used to fold a wide variety of models. For those of you who would like to purchase from stores in the USA, please visit Kim’s Crane Tant Collection. They have a good selection of Tant papers and some of the paper packs are exactly the same as that sold in Origami-Shop. You can also purchase specific colors as per my understanding.
Origami-Shop offers the rare pack / collection – Pack Tant 35x35cm — 10 colors — 100 sheets – along with packs of other color shades / hues which are available on the site.
I, myself, have never used elephant hide for folding but from the amazing pictures I see on Flickr, these papers make awesome Tessellations. In USA, you can purchase Elephant Hide paper from Kim’s Crane, yet again. This store has a wide variety of shades / colors and sizes to choose from. Again buying sheets of specific colors is possible. Do check these out at Kim’s Crane Elephant Hide collection.
These papers are metallic and though they hold creases pretty well, they are not accommodating on errors in folding. Once creased in place, the paper will continue to maintain the marking of a crease even after you have straightened it out. Hence, this paper should be used for those models, which you are well experienced in and probably in which crease errors such as these will not make a big deal (I can’t think of such a model except in the case of a few modular pieces, I suppose). Further, these have a strong shine on the surface, which does not make the overall origami design appealing – especially if the model you have folded is an animal with intricate features.
You can purchase this paper at most origami and craft shops these days. They are mostly single side colored and come in smaller sizes. Origami-Shop has a good selection of foil paper on their site such as the Foil paper 35×35 cm – 12 colors – 24 sheets.
You can also purchase Foil paper at Kim’s Crane this is for those of you residing in USA.
Test Sheets / Tracing paper for test folds:
We’ve all been here – not wanting to “waste” our prized paper which we bought from a fancy shop not long ago on folding a slightly complex model which we know has a high tendency of landing up as a crumpled piece of paper in the waste bin.
You can buy regular tracing paper from Michaels or any other stores, which has these rolls available. At times, you can also use copy paper, but the thickness of this paper really limits their use for complicated origami designs.
If you would like something fancier, Origami-Shop has a selection of test sheets, which are available for sale. You can select from their Test sheets – White – 40×40 cm (15.7″x15.7″) – 60g/m² (50 sheets) or their Test sheets – White – 20×20 cm 60g/m². They also have these in 22×22 cm and in a light yellow shade.
I usually buy a roll of kraft paper from Michaels. This is a craft store which is located all over USA (at least it looks like that to me!). They have tissue paper (for regular gift wrapping), Kraft paper that you get in a variety of colors at times as well as regular Kami paper and Origami Kits for those who are interested.
I hope this post helps you in your paper choices and sources!