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Impress your friends with five easy origami models

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Practiced for hundreds of years in Japan, the celebrated art of origami is a real crowd-pleaser. What could be more impressive than being able to turn a flat, featureless sheet of paper into a lifelike, well-proportioned bird, frog or butterfly?

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OK, so there are in fact a few things more impressive than origami, but it still ain't a bad way to amuse the kids while waiting at the doctor, show off at the bar, or put a smile on the face of an awkward date. All you need are the right materials.

Which, fortunately, are probably close at hand. Most origami designs require a square piece of paper, and you'll often see origami hobbyists using purpose-made square sheets that are colored on one side and white on the other. While you can find this in any old craft store, plain old copier paper works nearly as well, although you'll need to trim it into a square shape. Be it a placemat, an old letter, a flyer, or even a dollar bill, you're never too far from something suitable.

Dog face

Origami doesn't get much easier than this. Starting with a regular 8.5" x 11" sheet, this vid will take you through the whole process. It's cute, but let's be honest: you're not going to wow anyone older than about eight. Still, everyone's got to start somewhere, and Spot will be a big hit with the kids.

Origami crane

Surely the most recognizable of all origami creations, what the crane lacks in originality it makes up in classic appeal. Legend has it that anyone who folds one thousand cranes will have their dreams come true. Sounds like a pretty good deal to us. So get folding!

Origami frog

Who wouldn't love this hoppy creation? The frog is a classic origami critter, and it's easy enough for total beginners. Make it with green or brown paper for a more lifelike result -- but however you do it, it's sure to put a smile on the face of any onlooker.

Origami butterfly

Caterpillars take weeks to turn into butterflies, but follow these instructions and you'll be able to do the same trick with an ordinary sheet of paper in mere minutes. Not only is this slick method easy to follow, it'll also teach you the "paper balloon" or "water bomb" base -- a useful starting point for countless other origami designs.

Dollar bill dog

So far, so good. But what do you do if you're caught without a sheet of paper? Check your wallet. If you have a banknote, you're in luck. This tiny dog is easy to make out of a dollar bill -- or, if you're feeling flush, a note of just about any nationality or denomination. It's the perfect way to tip, saying either that you're so moved by the service you felt you had to leave a unique gift, or the service was so darn slow you were bored enough to make it. Take your pick.

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