How to make an origami pack mule

This traditional origami model is a complex, intermediate-advanced level project that will take approximately ten minutes or more to complete. Follow the directions carefully and move on to the next step only when you are sure that all previous steps have been correctly completed – work slowly and patiently. To begin, you’ll need a piece of paper that has been cut into a perfect square, a pair of scissors, and an appropriate place to work.

Practice with any paper you have on hand until you have mastered the folds of the model. A standard sheet of copy paper works well. Practice with inexpensive paper first and then move on to colored or patterned paper, if desired. The paper you use should be heavier than the average sheet of loose-leaf notebook paper.

In order to achieve accurate folds and sharp creases, you have to fold against a hard, flat surface. A table or hardback book will do. Run a pencil or ruler edge over each crease as you work to make them even sharper

Follow these Steps

  1. Position a square of paper on your work surface so that its points are facing up and down, left and right. If you are using two-sided paper, make sure that the color you want for the exterior of the pack mule is facing down.
  2. Bring the left point over to meet the right point. Crease and unfold.
  3. Bring the top point down to meet the bottom point. Crease and unfold. Turn the paper over.
  4. Position the square so that the edges are now facing up and down, left and right.
  5. Bring the left edge over to meet the right edge. Crease and unfold. Bring the top edge down to meet the bottom edge. Crease and leave folded. You should now have a rectangular-shaped model.
  6. Grasp the model at its left and right edges and push inward. It should collapse along the pre-existing folds. The result will be a diamond shape that has one folded flap sticking out toward the back of the model and another sticking out toward the front.
  7. Bring the front flap back to meet the left point of the diamond and bring the back flap up to meet the right point. Make sure all of the creases are as sharp as possible and that your model lies as flat as possible. Position the model so that the open end is pointing toward you.
  8. Bring the lower-left edge of the model (top layer only) over to meet the model’s vertical centerline. Crease and unfold. Fold the lower left edge backward along the crease line you just made. Crease and unfold.
  9. Repeat Step 8 for the lower right edge of the model.
  10. Bring the top point of the model down to meet the bottom edge. Crease just enough to mark the horizontal center. Do not make a sharp crease.
  11. Bring the top point of the model down to the center of the model. Use the crease line made in Step 10 as a guide. Crease and unfold.
  12. Bring the bottom point of the model (top layer only) up toward the top of the model, opening up the top layer as you go. The top layer should collapse along the crease line made in Step 11 and the bottom point should come behind the top point to touch your work surface. The left and right points of the model will meet at the center. The result will be a narrow diamond shape at the top of the model. Press flat.
  13. Turn the model over and Repeat Steps 11-12.
  14. Bring the top point of the model (top layer only) down to meet the bottom point. Press flat. Turn the model over.
  15. Lift the bottom right point of the model (top layer only) up so that it sticks straight up from the model. Open up the point’s right side and bring it down to the right to lie flat. Press flat. This will create a kite-shaped flap that points to the right.
  16. Repeat Step 15 for the bottom left point to create a star-shaped model.
  17. Bring the upper-left edge of the left pointed flap down to meet its horizontal centerline. Crease and leave folded. Repeat for the pointed flap’s lower left edge.
  18. Repeat Step 17 for the right pointed flap to create a symmetrical model.
  19. Fold the left pointed flap in half, lengthwise, from bottom to top. Press flat.
  20. Repeat Step 19 for the right pointed flap.
  21. Fold the model in half, lengthwise, from right to left. Press flat.
  22. Rotate the model to the left so that the two very narrow points are facing you. These will be the mule’s front legs. Turn the model over.
  23. Locate the folded triangular flap that lies along the top edge of the model. Use a pair of scissors to cut along the flap’s folded edge. This might be easier to accomplish of you open up the model a bit. Cut to the base of the triangle. This will create one triangular flap on each side of the model.
  24. Open up the left pointed flap along its bottom edge and push down on its top, folded edge. Push until the tip is pointing straight down and the flap is flattened out. Reverse the flap’s existing crease and pinch in place to form what will be the mule’s rear legs. The point where the legs meet the body should be enclosed within the model’s layers.
  25. Repeat Step 15 for the right pointed flap to create the mule’s head. The head should be positioned so that the points of the triangular flaps created in Step 23 extend past the upper-right edge of the model.
  26. Open up the triangular flap at the top of the model and push in toward the center at the flap’s upper right point. The flap should collapse into a diamond shape. Press flat. Repeat for the triangular flap located on the backside of the model.
  27. Position the model so that the head is facing to your right.
  28. Cut along the bottom of the model so that both leg portions are even with the head portion.
  29. Bring the bottom point of the diamond shape created in Step 26 up to meet the top point. Crease and unfold.
  30. Open up the left and right flaps of the diamond shape and then lift the bottom point to the top again. The top layer of the diamond shape should collapse upward into a rectangular pocket. Press flat. This forms one of the mule’s packs.
  31. Repeat Steps 29-30 for the back of the model to form the second pack.
  32. Position the model so that the head is once again facing to your right and hold the model securely between thumb and forefinger at the point where the head meets the body.
  33. Push the tip of the head to the right and upward as far as it will easily go. The head portion will flatten out and the tip will be pointing up.
  34. Reverse the crease of the head portion to fold back in between the paper layers. Pinch to keep in place. The tip will now be facing straight up.
  35. Use scissors to snip the tip of the head in half to create ears.
  36. Fold under the edge that runs from the front leg of the mule to its head. Make your fold just wide enough so that the mule’s muzzle becomes visible. Crease and leave folded. Repeat for the other side of the model.
  37. Position the model so that its rear end is facing toward you. Open up the folds and cut along each side of the existing flap’s vertical center. This creates a tiny strip that will become the tail of the mule. This cut will also separate the back legs.
  38. Pull the tail up and twist and pinch to keep it in place.

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