Where To Buy Paper
Whether it is for practice or that special project, the one thing we all need for origami, is paper.
Specialty paper comes in too many varieties to list, but surely you will find what you are looking for with one of the vendors below. They have everything from tissues and foils to artisanal hand-decorated papers.
For practice, or for models that require a stiffer crease, copy paper is not a bad choice! It comes in a wide variety of colors; I particularly like Hammermill's and the Astrobrights brand. Magazine paper can also be effective (there's an entire sub-genre of origami based on folding catalogs) and notepad paper can also be a good choice for many designs. It's crisp, light and can easily be made into squares. If you need precut squares more suited towards origami, many vendors offer bulk discounts and economy packs perfect for the frugal folder.
Click on the map for a listing of over 20 different stores.
- Paper Tree
- Owner-operated for almost half a decade by the Mihara family, the Paper Tree specializes in origami and several other traditional Japanese arts and crafts. If you have the chance to visit this store in person, I highly recommend doing so as it is located in the heart of San Francisco's beautiful Japantown. The Mihara's are extremely knowledgeable and enthusiastic about getting people involved in the community. Loads of books, tools and all types of papers; you won't be disappointed. Take note, they are closed on Sundays.
- FLAX art & design
- FLAX, located on Market Street, boasts 20,000 square feet of art supplies and has served SF's art community for over 75 years. While not a specialty paper store, FLAX has an entire section larger than most retail stores dedicated to just paper. They carry different weights of cardstock, all types of scrapbook paper, artisanal papers and kami. Worth more than a visit or two, just be careful, you might end up walking out with more than you bargained for.
- The Hobby Co. of SF
- I don't know where I would be without my local hobby shop. It seems like I'm always in need of some crucial item to my project whether it's glue, paint or some random tool. It's a bit of a bummer that they don't carry more paper, it's true, but what they do have is of good quality. You'll find rolls of artisanal paper and a decent selection of kami here. Big thumbs up for the super cute bead shop in the back. Makes you just wanna hang out there it's so darn cute.
- Scrapbook Territory
- Scrapbook Territory in Berkeley claims to be the largest scrapbooking store in the bay area at 4,000 square feet. A warehouse of with aisles and aisles of paper, there's not much else to say other than plan on spending a lot of time here. Scrapbook paper, which is basically different weights of cardstock, is not a good choice for intricate designs like animals and insects. But for modular origami, like the kind of work I do, it's perfect. It's available in bulk and comes in a variety of colors and designs and it's the real magic behind some of my work.
- Kim's Crane
- Easily my favorite store because of the huge selection and reasonable prices. My guess is Kim's has the largest (thousands of items?) and most diverse catalog out there today. They have also been around for almost 20 years. The caveat being that the site is dated so it can be a bit of a chore to navigate the catalog, but please don't let that stop you from ordering! Amazing selections of everything; I love the Kraft papers, Italian papers, foils, bulk discounts and monthly specials. They also carry hard-to-find items like Elephant Hide and that awesome embossed lizard paper.
- Origami Shop
- The Origami Shop is run by Nicolas Terry, a well-known French origami author and artist. I shop here for TANT, VOG, Elephant Hide and this is the only place I know that sells Origamido. For wet folders, this store is a must as Terry stocks tissue-foil and unique tissue papers with texture and fur! Overall selection is of high quality, which doesn't come cheap and there can be sizable shipping fees as the products ship from Europe. Regardless, it's hard to resist some of the rare and lovely papers on this site.
- Paper Jade
- Another fantastic specialty paper store that has been around for years. Paper Jade is on par with Kim's Crane in terms of pricing, shipping, quality and size of catalog. If I can't find it at Kim's chances are I will find it here. Paper Jade's focus is more on fine origami papers such as handmade Washi and Chiyogami. They offer free shipping; they run regular specials and have a separate section for economy and bulk packs. Online only.
- Paper Mojo
- Specialty, handmade and decorative papers available in large sheets. My favorite thing about Paper Mojo is their gorgeous metallic and embossed designs, but they also carry Lotka, Italian marbled, sheers, tissues, even cardstock. Check out the assortment packs and clearance section for some great deals. Online only.
- Paper Source
- The Paper Source specializes in stationary and invitations however unlike other stores in the same vein (Papyrus for example, don't waste your time there) they also carry a nice selection of scrapbook and large-format fine papers (Lotka, Chiyogami, Yuzen, etc). In addition to online ordering, Paper Source has dozens of locations across the USA (see map for Bay Area). Staff is friendly and helpful and they offer some fun workshops.