by Neil Coghill

(N.B. Instructions in italics are not absolutely necessary for the completion of the origami (thyroid) butterfly. They will however assist with certain other matters.)

1. Clear off a work surface as near as possible to an oriel window. Don’t pick the window with my campsite though. I’d rather you chose another. But preferably a south-facing one, with a view of rue St-Gabriel. Still, if you must choose my window, since it’s view is the best, try not to step on my sleeping bag.

2. Place a square of paper, colored side down, on your work surface so that its point are facing up and down, left and right.
Look out at the cobbled stones of rue St-Gabriel. Take a few deep, calming breaths.

3. Bring the left point of the square over to meet the right point. Crease and unfold.
Think of your little brother, your responsibilities toward same.

4. Bring the top point down to meet the bottom point. Crease and unfold. Imagine how with this sheet of paper, you are caring for your own embattled thyroid.

5. Locate the center of the square by determining where the crease lines made in 2 and 3 intersect. Ask yourself, ‘Have I taken all my medicines today? In their correct dosages?’

6. Bring the top point down to the center of the square. Crease and leave folded. Ask yourself, ‘Have I eaten properly today? More than just a bit of Ichiban here and there?’

7. Repeat Step 5 for the remaining points of the square. Turn the model over.
Imagine a separate course for each fold. Soup course; entrée; salad course; dessert. Make sure to imagine foods that you like. Otherwise you might as well not bother. Eating is a pleasure to many people, you know.

8. Bring the top point down to the center of the model (use the intersection of crease lines as your guide again). Crease and unfold. Repeat with the remaining points. Or just do whatever you like.

9. Turn the model over and open out all the flaps. See if I care.

10. Position the square so that its edges are facing up and down, left and right. Bring the top edge to the center of the model. Crease and leave folded. Repeat with the bottom edge. You will now have a rectangular shape in front of you.
Really, imagine it’s just an origami, if you like. Just don’t make that joke about the pipe. It’s a stupid joke. Of course sometimes a pipe is just a pipe.

11. Push the top left point of the rectangle towards the center of the model, in between the two layers of paper—the corner should collapse along crease lines made in previous steps. Repeat for the remaining points of the rectangle. The resulting shape (seen in the crease lines) should resemble a square with triangular shapes extending from the left and right edges. Turn the model over. But consider that you were the ones—both of you—who taught me how to use this imagination you so impugn as a tool of persuasion.

12. Bring the top edge of the model down to meet the bottom edge. Crease and leave folded. Your model should now resemble a boat.  The top left corner and the top right corner should now have three layers of folds. Unless your problem is just that these instructions are too hard…

13. Pull the top layer of the top left point down so that the model collapses along the left side of the upside-down "v"-shaped crease extending out from the top center of the model. In the process of bringing the left point down, the top left point of the model's second layer should automatically be brought over to the center. Repeat with the right side of the model, which should now be shaped like a triangle, long edge facing away from you. Turn the model over. That these instructions might be having the opposite of their intended effect.

14. Bring the left point over to meet the right point. Crease and unfold. Turn the model over. If that’s the case then I’m very sorry. If that’s the case and you still want the butterfly, just take a few more deep, cleansing breaths and wait for me to get home. I should be home soon, I tend to get home at a quarter to four, as you probably know. And then you’ll have your butterfly and a hundred more where that came from.

15. Place a thumb and forefinger at either side of the model's center, vertical crease line, at the top edge of the model. Bring the right half of the model over the center crease line just enough so that the bottom point of the model separates into two wing-like shapes. Crease and leave folded.
But, on the other, hand, I really bet you can do it.

16. Turn under the loose corner that was brought over the center crease line. Re-crease the center portion of the butterfly to secure the folds.
Imagine you are the great goddess Inanna. You can do anything! For example, here you will have recreated your own thyroid in the image of a butterfly, healthy, powerful and resolute, but delicate. Well worth the effort. Well worth it.


Anonymous said...

this origami butterfly doesn't work!

Sean Dixon - said...

It doesn't help your sister?

Lindsey said...

I work for a non-profit group in Charlotte, NC and am wondering if we can use this butterfly design in our annual awards show. I can send more information if necessary.

Again, we are a non-profit organization and have no problem providing attribution and a link to your blog. Please let me know me if this possible as soon as you can.


Sean Dixon - said...


I'm afraid these instructions were derived from some other instructions somewhere on the internet. And, according to the above commenter, they don't work! So I would look elsewhere if I were you.

Unless you're speaking of the origami butterfly on the cover of the book, in which case I would urge you to contact the Other Press and get them to put you in touch with their cover (and butterfly) designer. Because these instructions don't make that butterfly.