Origami Heaven

A paperfolding paradise

The website of writer and paperfolding designer David Mitchell


The Bellows
This page attempts to record what is known about the origin and history of the origami design known as the Bellows. Please contact me if you know any of this information is incorrect or if you have any other information that should be added. Thank you.

The Bellows is an active play design. Compressing the design sends a jet of air out of the hole in the top. It seems to have fallen out of popularity in modern times and is now little known or folded.

As far as I know the Bellows first appears in the historical record in the book 'De Kleine Papierwerkers' which was written by Elise Van Calcar and published by K H Schadd in Amsterdam in 1863. Plate III pictures 27 paper folds, the last one of which is the Bellows. The design is not named (the book is written in Dutch) and as far as I can tell there is no mention of it in the text.

The earliest diagrams of which I am aware appear under the title The Paper Bellows on page 813 of 'Cassell's Complete Book of Sports and Pastimes' which was published in London in 1882.

An untitled picture of the design appears in Plate IV of Eleenore Heerwart's ''Course of Paperfolding', published in 1895.

Diagrams for the design appear under the title Working Bellows in 'Paper Magic' by Will Blyth which was published by C Arthur Pearson in London in 1920.

Diagrams for the design also appears undrr the title Bellows in Margaret Campbell's 'Paper Toy Making', first published in London in 1936. Notes accompany the diagrams, to the effect that 'These bellows will easily blow out a candle' and 'The blast will be improved by cutting off a small portion with scissors, where the air escapes'.