An Introduction to Golden Venture Folding

Golden Venture Folding, also known as Chinese Paper Folding or 3D origami, is a type of modular origami. Models are made by folding hundreds of small triangles from different colors of paper and interlocking them together. The wedges of paper grip each other to minimize the need for adhesive, although a small amount of glue is sometimes used.

The name Golden Venture Folding comes from an incident that sparked a fierce debate over immigration practices in the United States. In 1993, a group of 286 Chinese men and women tried to enter the US illegally on a large cargo ship known as Golden Venture. There was a struggle on the ship and 10 people drowned in their escape attempt. When the survivors reached the US, they were taken into custody by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and detained while they applied for the right of asylum. Many ended up being detained for several years while their cases were processed. To help pass the time during their incarceration, they began making elaborate paper sculptures that were sold at charity fundraisers and given as gifts to the people who were working to help the refugees gain their freedom.

3D Origami Swan
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The models created by the Golden Venture refugees were shown in a 2001 exhibit titled "Fly to Freedom: The Art of the Golden Venture Refugees." This traveling exhibit was organized by the Museum of Chinese in the Americas in New York City. Golden Venture Folding also makes a brief appearance in the 2006 documentary Golden Venture.

Golden Venture Folding Instructions

To make one of the units for Golden Venture folding, a rectangular piece of paper is folded in half lengthwise. The left and right sides are then brought down to meet the center. Mountain fold the left and right sides diagonally to form a diamond shape. Mountain fold the diamond in half to make a triangle. Mountain fold the triangle in half once more to finish the unit. Connect individual units by slipping the points into the pockets.

The folding technique may be simple, but keep in mind that models constructed using Golden Venture Folding often require hundreds of sheets of paper. It's not uncommon for a model to be made of 400 or 500 different triangular units. This means that folders must have a great deal of patience to be successful in creating 3D origami sculptures.

3D Origami Units
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Chinese Paper Folding Models

The models that are constructed using Golden Venture Folding are generally not abstract designs. Animals are the most popular subject for Chinese Paper Folding, but you can also find creative Golden Venture Folding versions of popular cartoon characters as well as functional sculptures like 3D origami vases.

Since Golden Venture Folding requires so many sheets of paper, it's a great way to incorporate ​recycled paper into your work. Models folded from junk mail have a unique appearance. All of the colors and the text blend together to create an innovative work of art. The folder can take pride in having created a thing of beauty from materials that would otherwise be discarded.

Recycled 3D Origami Swan
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3D Origami Tutorials

If you want to try Golden Venture Folding, YouTube seems to have the most free online resources. Check out these video tutorials to help get you started:

3D Origami Vase
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