DIY origami paper fish from katescreativespace This weekend we’ve been making fish… deliciously curvy and fluid origami paper fish to be precise, that seem to leap and spin in the air, especially when hung in colourful shoals…

Shoal of paper fish from katescreativespaceThen I got more adventurous and made a larger sculptural koi from wafer-thin marbled paper (modelled here by Harry);

DIY marbled paper fish on a rod  ..and finally a giant fish (my fish lexicon fails me here; what type of fish would this one be?)

DIY giant paper fish

The basic technique is simple once you get the hang of it.  My first fish took me half-an-hour, but by the time I made the final fish for the instructions below, I was down to 8 minutes.  Given how long it would take to catch an actual fish, that’s super-fast.  And much warmer than sitting on a riverbank.

You can make these in different ways for subtley different effects; this fish is strung with wire which gives a wonderfully curvy shape and means you can adjust each one;

Origami paper and wire fish from katescreativespace  Paper + wire fish DIYWhereas this colourful pair are simply strung with cotton thread, so they hang straight down and wobble in the breeze;Colourful paper fish from katescreativespace You can play with the fins and tails for a myriad of different effects; A trio of fish

Here are the basic instructions and steps if you fancy giving this a go:


  • Squares of 15cm x 15cm origami paper (or go bigger!)
  • Thin florists wire
  • Glue
  • sticky tape
  • (optional) needle and thread

Steps are shown visually here and then detailed below…

Paper fish instructions 1paper fish instructions 2paper fish instructions 3fish13

  1. Cut your paper into 10 strips, each one 1cm wide
  2. Trim the paper into the following lengths: 8.5cm/10cm/12cm/13cm/15cm/13cm/11cm/9cm/7cm/5cm (or you can do this visually instead of using precise measurements, with the picture above as a guide)
  3. Dot glue onto one edge of each strip and form it into a circle, until you have 10 rings as shown above
  4. Cut out freehand fin and tail shapes to use later
  5. Option 1/wire: cut a length of wire and thread it through the rings.  using small pieces of tape, attach the wire into place on the side of each ring, leaving a gap of about 0.5cm between them.  Repeat along the other side, aiming to run the wires roughly opposite each other.
  6. Option 2/stitching: thread your needle and using a basic running stitch, attach each ring into place as shown below, leaving 0.5cm between them.  You may need to overstitch once on each ring to hold it in place and avoid them sliding up and down on the thread.

stitching paper fish

7. Glue a fin onto each side of either the fourth or fifth ring from the top (fish fins are quite high on the body, not halfway as you might imagine!)

8. Add a tailfin; cut the shape you want from the options shown above and then pierce it with a needle; if you’re using wire, thread the wires through to hold it in place.  If you’re stitching, rethread your two strands of thread and loop through the tailfin to hold into place.

9. String your fish on a bamboo stick, embroidery hoop or simply tape them to the ceiling; they would look beautiful above a cot in a nursery, or hanging in a window.  If you know someone in hospital or sick, why not make one and take it in to tape over their bed where it can sway and shimmer in the air…


Have a great week, wherever you are and whatever you’re doing!

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