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Origami Elephant

The origami elephant from a dollar bill is sure to amuse and delight your friends, dining partners and waitpersons. This model is based on the design and instructions of Jim Cranwell.


Made this origami? Comment and Submit your photo using the comment box at the end of this page!


It should be considered somewhat advanced origami. 

If you have trouble making an origami crane, this one might be a bit much. 

We'll make frequent use of the terms valley fold and mountain fold. 

If you do not know what these are, then you are in way over your head :) 

Actually, you can learn about these folds right here.

Start with a U.S. one dollar bill.  Other currencies or denominations would work, but this one has a special "feature" that will show up later. 

For those not in the USA, the dimensions of a USA one dollar bill are height = 66mm (2.6 inch) and width = 156mm (6.1 inch).

Place the bill in front of you, face up but upside down (again, you'll see why later). 

Now make valley folds at the halfway points of the bill, as well as the top corners. 

Origami Elephant


dollar bill ready to fold into origami elephant 

origami-elephant- dollar bill creased



Now valley fold the top corners as if you're making a paper airplane

origami-elephant-top corners folded

origami-elephant-top corners folded again



Then fold the top pointed corner down, at the white line shown.  With us so far?  Good! 

Now fold the right edge of the bill back behind, until the bill is doubled as shown.  Crease the fold.

origami-elephant-top point folded over

origami-elephant-making crease A

Next unfold the bill.  The fold the right edge back again, until it lines up with the crease you made in the previous step. 

Make another crease. 

origami-elephant-crease A

morigami-elephant-aking crease B

crease B

origami-elephant-crease C

Now fold along crease A...then B and C, as shown in the two photos below.

origami-elephant-folding crease A

origami-elephant-folding crease B and C

The following photo shows what the backside should look like. Now turn the folded bill back over.

You will now make a valley fold approximately where the white line is in the photo below.

origami-elephant-backside of dollar bill after creases A, B and C

valley fold to make center channel



This will give the result below. This stage is shown from the backside in the next photo.

origami-elephant-center channel

view of center channel from behind




For clarity, we're showing this stage from the side also. The idea is to get the distance "x" to be equal to the distance "y".

origami-elephant-center channel edge view


center channel front view again

Now fold the 4 corners of the center channel as shown below. Next, squash fold the top and bottom as shown.

It can be a little tricky to get these small pieces folded and creased, you may need help from a rounded tool as shown. A car key might help.

origami-elephant-corner fold center channel

origami-elephant-squash fold center channel


Now unfold the top pointy part.

wooden tool

origami-elephant-pointy elephant trunk unfolded

Make valley folds on the outside of the center channel.

Also make a mountain fold just in front of the channel, so that this piece overlaps the channel.

Now flip the piece over. Whew! This would be as good a time as any to break for drinks :)

Ready again? OK, make another valley fold at the front edge of the front legs.

And a mountain fold a short distance in front of that.

The idea is to overlap the front legs by about half their width.

overlaps of center channel

origami-elephant-flip over, more folds

These next two photos show those folds:

valley fold

origami-elephant-mountain fold

Now fold the whole thing in half down the centerline as shown, using a mountain fold.

Next you will make the ears.

Fold the point of the trunk back as shown to make the ear crease line (ignore the trunk crease for now).

Note the ear is angled forward slightly.

Unfold the trunk then use the crease line to make a reverse fold inside the body of the elephant.

If you're drawing a blank on reverse fold, check out our instructions for the origami flapping bird.

folded elephant body

origami-elephant-creasing for ears

origami-elephant-reverse fold for ears       

Now unfold the trunk.

Next push the trunk into the body, making two valley folds (one on either side) along the trunk crease shown below.

The trunk crease lines will end up in contact with the front edge of the front legs.

It should look something like the photo below.

origami-elephant-trunk crease again

trunk folded

Next, crease then reverse fold the trunk so that it points down.


elephant trunk folded

Do a couple more reverse folds to get the trunk pointing up, and the trunk tip pointing slightly back.

origami-elephant-trunk folded up


trunk tip folded back

Now turn the elephant over and open the legs a bit. Valley fold out a small tail.

Now your elephant is ready to stand on his own four legs!

open elephant to make tail

elephant tail complete  

Note that the floating eye in the pyramid from the backside of the dollar bill lines up quite nicely to be the eye of the elephant. Neat!

If you're performing this little stunt at a bar, we hear that these little fellas like peanuts.                   

completed origami elephant

From Kitty in QLD Australia "In the front - origami Elephant made with the Australian $5 bill. Unfortunately our currency is made from a plastic rather than paper like USA currency and I had to use tape to hold it in place :P the folds also would not hold properly and it was very stubborn, but in the end it succumbed to my will... kind of, there were a few folds it just would not do."

Great effort Kitty!



From Brittanie of Mt Horeb:




From Klarisa in Easley:




From Andy in Cannock "This is my Origami Elephant. im a bit of a penny pincher so i measured the dimensions of a 5 pound note onto a piece of printer paper :D"




From reader in Beaverton "This origami was hard to understand at first,but after your first try it gets easy."




From Byron in Tustin:



From Mihai in Ploiesti " My first Origami,ever !!!"

That's very impressive, Mihai!



From Amanda in Schenectady " This is my first attempt at a money origami elephant. "

Good job!



From Amethyst in Brandon " This is the origami elephant. I'm pretty sure I made some wrong folds somewhere along the way, but I love my little pachyderm! "




From Simon in Trier, Germany "An Origami elephant made from a one dollar bill. I modified the head a little. "




From Harel in Curepipe Mauritius " First attempt at the elephant Origami. I found the crane easy to master so I went for a bigger target! It's done with a 50 rupee-note (Mauritius currency) roughly the same size as a 1$ bill. Notice the eye ? ;) "

The eye is kinda creepy and cool!



From Ryan in Geneseo " Hank the Elephant grazing! My first attempt at origami, I am using it in school to show my students some really neat origami when we do an origami math lesson. I have since made other creatures and money folds have been by far my favorite! "




From Liz in Liverpool "Origami Money Elephant."




From Josh in Rumford " My three best origami pieces :) A mini chair, mini coffee table and an elephant dollar bill to top it off! :DDD "




From reader in Buffalo " Money Origami Elephant I messed up a bit, but it still turned out okay. "




From Kieren in Melbourne " This is an origami elephant I made with a butter menthol wrapper, got the dimensions of an American dollar bill, and shrunk it. :) "

Good job, Kieren!




From Kim in Woodland " Dollar-bill elephant. This took quite a while to accomplish, but it was worth it. It's a little top-heavy, so I stuck a penny in the folds inside the channel on each side to weight it. "




From reader in Newport News " My origami elephant didn't turn out exactly how yours,but it is my 1st attempt!!!!! "

Keep trying and you'll get there! Looks great for the first time!




From Laura in Berkhamsted " This is my first attempt at the origami elephant from a 1 dollar bill and I'm pretty darn pleased with it! Obviously being in the UK, we don't have many dollar bills around but this is a special one that my boyfriend wrote me a note on when he was home on leave from Afghanistan and we have this thing about elephants, so it's actually a very romantic bit of origami! "

Great job, Laura! It looks amazing!




From Ilis in Tangerang " This is my first try for elephant origami. I think it is not bad. "

Good job!




From reader in Somerset:




From Manny in Boston " dollar bill elephant made out of some fake printed money (not counterfeit :)) "



From Edie in Canton " My first two tries! These are so much fun to make. "




From Abbie and Ashley in Caledonia " This took forever...But what else do two college students have to do on a Saturday Afternoon? "



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