Text-Only Instructions
Credits and Resources:
This puzzle purse is an extension of MDL0045 - ORIGAMI - FOUR-POINTED PINWHEEL STAR, which you will find in Accessible Origami - Volume 3.
In fact, the first 14 steps are exactly the same as those for the pinwheel star, after which the four-pointed star shape is turned into the closed envelope or puzzle purse.
Instructions with pictures for folding this model, can be found at
Since this volume focuses on traditional models, I have also quoted a few steps from the excellent instructions by Nancy Rosin from her page at
        Victorian Treasury
She explains in detail how the purse was folded traditionally, which is the way represented by the text instructions below, as well as how one could modify your folds to do away with the extraneous creases that are the result of the traditional method of folding this envelope.
Paper to be used: Square, any size; use large paper to practice with at first.
Thin origami paper that is white or plain on one side is recommended for this project.
Folding level: Intermediate
Steps: 16
Description: This model is a small, flat, closed envelope. The finished puzzle purse is a folded square that is divided into 4 sections that seem to revolve around a central point. It can be opened into a pinwheel shape and then further into a square with a grid of 9 smaller squares.
A puzzle purse, folded in the traditional way, is easy to recognize as it will have visible creases used to fold it.
 More specifically, a square is folded into thirds horizontally and then vertically, with the resulting small square then folded along its diagonals
Once opened, the square will be divided into 9 equally sized squares, each of which has an "X" mark, due to it having been folded along both diagonals.
  Once all the folds have been made, the purse is collapsed or folded closed, with the finished purse being one-third of the size of the paper you started off with.
Puzzle purses may be used to conceal messages. Once the pre-creases have been made, a message may be written in the center square. The model is then closed and secured with the last fold.
A number may be written on each flap to indicate the order in which the purse should be opened.
This envelope can be used in scrap books, on top of gifts, for enclosing cards, notes, money, any small, flat object.
The model is quite secure as long as you do not fill it with things that are heavy or bulky.
Alternatively, a note can simply be folded into this model and decorated for a quick children's project or a personal touch.
These envelopes can also be used for advent calenders. Secure with a sticker or a dab of glue after they have been filled.
If using two-sided origami paper, lay your paper with the white or plane side up before starting to fold.
NOTE:  This model requires folding your square into thirds. A folding method is described below in Step 2, but if you prefer, you could use a template to help.
Try to create a template from cardstock or similar durable paper if you are able to use the method in Step 2, or consider asking someone to help you make a template from the size of squares you most often use.
You can then keep this template in your origami kit for use at any time.
Step 1
Place a square down with its edges to the left and right, top and bottom.
Step 2
Divide and fold your square into thirds.
The easiest method I have found to do this is to pick up your paper and gently fold the sides over to their opposite edges. Adjust your folds on both sides before making small creases right at the edges of the paper to mark where you will fold.
Don't worry if this is difficult at first. It will become easier with practice.
Unfold all the way again.
Using the small marks you have made, fold the top edge of the square down a third of the way and then over once more, like you would a letter going into an envelope.
Crease well and unfold so you have a square with two lines across it.
Step 3
Turn your model 90 degrees and repeat the previous step so that your square is now divided into 9 blocks by two vertical and 2 horizontal valley folds.
Step 4
Create 2 diagonal folds across your paper by bringing the top left corner to its diagonally opposite corner and creasing, then opening it and repeating the fold with the other corner.
You will end up with an X across your paper.
Step 5
Next, you will be folding your starting square into a square that will be one-ninth of its original size.
To do this:
Fold the open square closed, first by folding over the left and then the right edges towards the center. Press down so you now have a tall thin piece of triple ply paper.
Then fold this long piece closed by bringing the top and bottom edges across each other.
You now end up with a small, thick square of paper, 1/9 of the original size of the paper.
Step 6
Fold corners diagonally toward each other from both directions to make an X crease across this small square.
Step 7
Flip the small square over and repeat Step 6 on the other side.
Step 8
Unfold all the way again so you have the square positioned as in Step 1.
You will notice that there are now 9 blocks with diagonal creases running through each square.
All folds have been created, so you will now move on to the next phase, which can loosely be described as the formation or collapsing of the model into the star shape.
Step 9
Identify the square at the center of the 3 by 3 grid you have created. This square will stay flat while you will form the 4 points around it.
Note that the next steps will explain how to form the Puzzle Purse in an anti-clockwise direction.
Once you know how to fold the model and are comfortable with how the folds work, you will likely be able to collapse the envelope in a clockwise direction as well.
Step 10
Start with the top right corner of the model.
Pinch the corner between two fingers while moving from the outer point until you reach the central square. As you do this, the previous folds will cause the top right point to rise up together with the top and right sides of the paper.
It will look like a sharp triangular point that is sort of floating in the air. You can bend the end of the triangle gently to the left and then let it just hang there for the moment.
Step 11
Now repeat the pinch folds and the bending of the points with the three remaining corners in order to form a floppy shape with 4 points hanging around on each corner.
Step 12
Starting at the top right corner again, gently press the pointed triangle that is standing up so it folds flat to the left.
You might have to coax the paper a little here, but the precreases should help a lot. You will know that the first arm has been folded correctly if it folds flat onto the square. The fold will actually start on top of the central square itself and the point will be a two-layered flap with an opening to the left. The first arm of the star should point straight up, away from you and the triangle will slant upwards to the left in relation to the central square.
Step 13
Next, move to the left side of the central square to form the second arm of the pinwheel star. You might find that the paper is already almost in position or on the other hand, the paper might have folded itself into the wrong position.
Looking at the central square only, the fold of the second arm will actually start from underneath the fold of the first arm.
So try to hold the first arm in place near its point while creating the second arm, although you might notice the paper shifting near the central square, the first arm should stay in place while you work on the second one.
To make the correct fold, gently grab the triangular point on the left of the central square and pull it towards the ceiling. Make sure you have a nice sharp point as you lift the triangle up.
Once you have the sharp point between your fingers, gently pull or press it flat, to the left so it will form the second arm of the star.
Once again, the arm will be a two-layered triangle with its opening towards you. It will point straight out from the central square to the left and it will slope downwards to the left in relation to the central square.
Step 14
Repeat the steps with the two remaining arms of the star, first with the bottom point and lastly folding the right point into place.
Remember that each new arm you are forming will originate from the central square, but forming underneath the previous arm.
You will notice that the precreases have enabled the paper of the central square to overlap and fold into the beautiful rotating pattern of the 4-pointed pinwheel star.
If your folds seem not to want to collapse as described above, don't be discouraged. This is an intermediate model, so it might take more than one try to get it right. Once you understand how the folds are created underneath/on top of each other, all radiating from the central square, you will realize that the folds are not difficult in themselves, though the collapsing in an anti-clockwise manner is what makes the model so brilliant and beautiful.
As often happens with origami models, this is a beautiful four-pointed star, but with a few more steps, it may be turned into another entirely different, useful model.
Step 15
Four points of the pinwheel will be sticking out. Each little triangle that sticks out should be folded in toward the center square, using the edge of the square as a guide.
Start at the top triangle and move anti-clockwise or to the left, each time folding a triangle on top of the previous one.
Step 16
Finally, tuck the last triangle into the pocket that was formed by your first fold.
The pocket you are looking for will actually be underneath the last triangle, so don't just fold it over, but find the pocket or the slit nearest or underneath the last triangle. You might have to use a nail to open the slit that has been formed and bend the triangle a little in order to tuck it into the pocket securely.
Since all the points of the puzzle purse are folded snugly on top of each other, it will now be securely closed.
Your very own origami puzzle purse is complete.
Making origami accessible to visually impaired crafters through text instructions.
for non-commercial use only.
Compiled by Lindy van der Merwe, May 2019
Revised, September 2023