How to Make an Origami Bird Out of a Dollar

by Samuel Hamilton
Origami artists can create paper cranes from dollar bills.

Origami artists can create paper cranes from dollar bills.

Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images

Originated in the 1600s in Japan and popularized in the twentieth century, origami roughly translates to the art of folding paper. Origami artists can create a flapping crane with any piece of paper, though the original design requires a square-shaped sheet. Currency, particularly U.S. currency provides an excellent paper medium through which an origami artist can create a flapping crane.

Items you will need

  • A dollar bill
Step 1

Flip the bill and position it so that the text on the back of the bill is readable; that is, right-side up. Mentally label the corners bottom-left, top-left, top-right and bottom-right.

Step 2

Fold the bottom-right corner to the top-left corner. This will reveal the bottom front of the bill, including George Washington's face.

Step 3

Fold the bottom-left corner up to the diagonal line created by the bottom of the bill running up to the top-left corner.

Step 4

Turn the bill over, placing George Washington's face down on the desk.

Step 5

Repeat the second fold on the reverse side with what was originally top-right corner.

Step 6

Open the bill so that it remains face down. Leave the two side flaps folded in. The bottom-left and top-right corners should now be folded into the center of the bill, forming two triangles.

Step 7

Fold the top-left corner down so that the edge lines up with the top-edge of the triangle created by the folded-in, bottom-left corner. Repeat this process with the bottom-right corner.

Step 8

Fold the bill so that the folded-in, bottom-right corner tucks underneath the triangle flap created by the folded-in, top-left corner. This creates a square.

Step 9

Flip the bill so that George Washington's face is on the top of the square, but slightly tilted towards the right.

Step 10

Fold the left side of the square over until it meets the right side of the square and crease the bill.

Step 11

Open the bill again and fold the top side of the square down until it meets the bottom side of the square.

Step 12

Open the bill and turn it over so the backs of the crease are facing up. The creases should form a cross in the center of the bill, four equally sized square-shaped spaces above below and next to each of the creases, much like with an Cartesian coordinate or xy graph.

Step 13

Pinch the unfolded space between the creases together so that the creases raise up. When you look directly down at the center point of the raised up creases, the bill will look like a "t" or plus sign. When you look directly on one of the sides, it will look like a square that is tilted onto one of its corners.

Step 14

Locate the two sides of the new three-dimensional shape with no flaps, the side with one flap and the side with three flaps.

Step 15

Press together the edges that will hide the side with three flaps and one of the flapless sides. This will from a square again. One side of the square will have no flaps, the other will have a single flap, cutting from one side to the other at a 22.5 degree angle.

Step 16

Lift the corner of the top layer of the square side with the 22.5 degree angle up and stick your finger underneath the top layer and crack the surface tension of the bill. Slowly continue lifting the flap up and over its opposite corner. This will slowly draw the sides of the new face in with the fold.

Step 17

Pinch the drawn-in sides of the face of the new fold in towards the center of the face. This will allow the corner of the top layer to reach the top of the fold so you can crease the drawn-in sides in place.

Step 18

Lift, draw and pinch the corner of the top layer of the opposite side. This will create a multilayered, diamond-shaped folded bill, with a center crease. The bottom half of the diamond should have a gap between each side, while the top half will be solid across.

Step 19

Fold each opposite side corner of each side in towards the other, creating a new diamond in which there is a gap between each side, while the bottom half is solid across.

Step 20

Fold the bottom corner of the diamond up on each side of the new diamond. These new flaps will be the wings of the origami dollar bill bird.

Step 21

Fold one of the two remaining pointy spires down, forming the head or beak of the bird.


  • "Money Origami Kit: Make the Most of Your Dollar!"; Michael LaFosse, et al.; 2009

About the Author

Samuel Hamilton has been writing since 2002. His work has appeared in “The Penn,” “The Antithesis,” “New Growth Arts Review" and “Deek” magazine. Hamilton holds a Master of Arts in English education from the University of Pittsburgh, and a Master of Arts in composition from the University of Florida.

Photo Credits

  • Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images