The Last Waltz (Neal Elias): Instructions

Adams, Sara
Difficulty Level: 
Model type: 
Valentine's Day
Paper ratio: 
1 : 3

At long last I've found the time to do a video on one of Neal Elias' models. Enjoy!

Paper size: 45cm x 15 cm (18in x 6in)
Finished model: approx. 10cm height (4in)


I can finally learn how to make this!!!!! WOOHOOOO!
.......not that im excited or anything.

Don't ask why, but I always thought that this model was by David Brill.
Weird, isn't it?

Oddly, with most of your low intermediate models, I would have given up by the first few minutes, in the case of a multi-video model, I would not make it past the end of the first video, but with this one, I have made it to the second video as I writethis

You have explained the steps really well in ur videos! I am looking forward to folding the model. :) I have 1 Q though, what kind of paper did you use for this model? And where did you get it from? Thank you!

It's some wrapping paper I found and I immediately had to buy 3 rolls of it (red/purple, yellow/orange, green/blue). Funnily enough, I met someone at the BOS Spring Convention 2009 who bought the exact same paper, because they'd loved it just as much. In terms of wrapping paper for origami, it's just about as good as it gets. It takes folds well, is quite crisp, and not too heavy. I'd guess something like 85 to 90 gsm, but that's a pure guess.
Now don't ask me where I bought it. I think it was in some department store in Hamburg, Germany. If I ever see it again, I'll have to document better (and probably buy more of it).

Also, this model works really nicely with foil-backed paper. Do give it a try with that.

Hi Sara!

Thanks for the info on where you bought the wrapping paper for this model. I think I will do some scouting on my own here to see if I can get something similar or foil paper as you suggested. By the way, this sure is the best model you have folded so far, really awesome! :) I have seen a lot many pics of the finished model on the net, but never the instructions or a book to it. You have done a great job in making this design popular.

Sara, what a terrific model to engage upon !
This Elias Last Waltz may well stand as the hallmark/apex of your teaching videos.
I cannot immagine how many folks , who previously only whimsically longed to fold this model, can now access assistance to actually doing it.
Nor can I imagine anyone, but yourself, doing so with such clarity.
I have no doubt that this will be appreciated by a great many.
Your latest endeavor has left me speechless.( Not an easy task obviously )
Of course, it has it's downside...
Now I have have no excuse to put aside crumpling wads of paper into puppies & kitties, so as to actually do a model of some elegance.
" I certainly hope that you're proud of yourself ! " ( Double entendre intended ...)
Finally, please take pause sufficiently to, say, unpack a few boxes, before undertaking the predictable next project of oh, the Ryu-jin for example, so as to allow us mere mortals a chance to catch up.
Extraordinary work, Sara...

Well, there is also the fact that my boyfriend gave me professional lighting equipment for my birthday. This is the first time round I used it. I think it does enhance the quality. Also, it's the first time I used my new Mac and Final Cut Express to do all the post-recording editing (makes two days of work happen in half a day!).
I also really enjoy about this model that there aren't complete diagrams available for it (as far as I know). Neil Elias did some rough sketches in his notebooks, mostly - I think - for his own reference. So you do get a crease pattern and some sketches of critical steps - but everything in between is up to your imagination. And that's like making the model a bit your own.
Finally, Neil Elias simply did some genius models, and this one is probably my favourite of those I know. And it's been incredible how much feedback I've received for it already. Much more than for any of my previous videos, so it seems I hit the target (closer than usually). Which means, yes, I am proud, to have done a seemingly good job at highlighting Neil Elias' work.

I nearly went to Dave's "Last Waltz" teaching session at the Nottingham Convention, but didn't because I thought I had the diagrams at home in my newly bought (ebayed) Origami 4 by Robert Harbin. I was disappointed to find when I got home that the model in the book was actually "Dancers": still by Neal Elias but a much simpler model from a bird base with no box pleating and flat. So you've really cheered me up with this one! You've done a fantastic job (again).
Thank you.

I am folding this for the nth time........ and I get messed up because you refer to the colour sides, ... it would be easier for those of us without your paper to have "the female side" and "the male side" because one side of my paper is blue and the other white, and I want the man white and the woman blue and I keep ripping up the paper!

Ah, well, how about making a note - red = blue, purple = white, and checking when you're unsure?

-- Sara

You have explained the steps really well in ur videos! I am looking forward to folding the model. :) I have 1 Q though, what kind of paper did you use for this model? And where did you get it from? Thank you!

I used wrapping paper for this model. It's similar to kraft paper. I bought it at some stationary store 2 years ago or so.

this is hassan from Iran, I was wondering if you could send me the video for Neal elias's last waltz because I can not watch it here.
thanks a million
P.S if you have anything else from neal(diagrams, videos) please send it to me.

Hi Hassan,

I fear I don't send out videos, they're quite big files. I think there are some tools for downloading videos from YouTube, so you can try that.

-- Sara

I love working origami with u s dollar bills (orikane). Is it possible to do" the last waltz " with a dollar bill? Even if I could do each figure using a separate bill.
Thanx! Ron

Well, you need a specific paper ratio for the model. A dollar bill is 2.61 inches wide and 6.14 inches long, which makes a ratio of about 2.35. The model needs a ratio of 2.875
So you can't fold the model straight from a dollar bill. You might be able to modify the model, so that the skirt is smaller, and thus takes less space, I'm not sure. You could also try to fold in a strip on one side, so that the ratio changes.
And of course there's the problem with size overall. The model would be tiny if you started with a dollar bill, and they're not that thin. So in any case I'd be hard to do, even if you figured out a modification to match the paper ratio. Or rather cotton ratio...

Best of luck,

-- Sara

Actually the ratio for a U.S. dollar bill is 3:7. Not quite sure why, maybe to make it harder to fake?


P.S. For some reason the CAPTCHA does not show up until you click Preview. Not sure if that can be fixed, but...

where did you get the double colered paper?

It's some wrapping paper I found in a supermarket. Sometimes you're simply lucky...

-- Sara

I have something really quick to ask. How do you get a perfect 1:3 size paper?

I usually first cut a strip of paper, and then pinch the end of all their diagonals. I guess you could also measure the distance.

-- Sara

thank you sara for this vid at 4 mins it looks like a ping pong bat lol ty for all vids

hi sara,

good job with the last dance and the other videos too! just one small thing - elias' first name should be "neal" and not "neil".

btw, in case u haven't visited, some folder friends and i set up a site in 2007 to pay joint tribute to neal elias. please visit us if u haven't done so already :


keep up the good work!

- boon

Oh, that IS embarassing. I'm so sorry.
I've hopefully removed all "Neil"s an replaced them with "Neal"s on this website. I fear the incorrect spelling in the video can't be changed as easily. :( I fixed the titles and added some annotations that should cover up the incorrect spelling - if people activate annotations. It's not perfect, but hopefully somewhat better than beore.
Thanks so much for pointing this error of mine out. Also, I'm aware of the tribute site, although I was on one of the (several) mirror sites. I've liked to one on this page, actually. :)
It seems, though, that reading on that page and admiring Neal's work didn't prevent me from spelling his first name incorrectly. It was not out of disrespect, and I'll be sure to spell it correctly from now on!

-- Sara

no need to be embarassed. u are doing a great job making more people aware of elias'works. will be sending u an email separately.

- boon

hey... i really want to try and make this, but the part 1 video doens't seem to be working :(

hey sara please do something about the not working 1/5 video....
thnx in advance

I am not sure why the video isn't loading for you. It's working fine for me, so it's not a problem with the video itself, but with your connection to youtube. I know that sometimes YouTube videos load slowly or not at all for some people, but I fear I don't know how to solve that problem for those people.


-- Sara

hola la verdad me encantan tus origamis y este para mi gusto es el mejor gracias por compartirlo con la gente amante de esto. soy argentino de 26 años de edad

what type of paper did you use and what type of paper can i not use? can i use wrapping paper?

I'd recommend foil-backed paper. This model profits from paper that stays folded, and the foil part helps with that. Other than that, the paper shouldn't be all that thick, as is always the case with box-pleating. Other than that, you can also use other paper and then dampen or use MC to connect the box-pleating layers. In the video I used Kraft paper, not to thin either - so it does work. But best results are achieved with foil or water/MC.

-- Sara

Is there another way to see this pleat i am supose to fold to make the males jacket? I mean do you have a diagram or know where i can see this part.

It seems booklet 10 isn't currently available in the BOS supplies shop. In any case, though, I fear diagrams will not help you with that step. It's easily the hardest step in the model, and I tried my best to clarify it somewhat. It still stays a relatively hard step to perform.
The only help I can offer is to suggest you keep on trying, and possibly rewatch the sequence several times on the way.

-- Sara

Pleat the lower half into 1/4s, the upper half in 1/2, and squash the center of the pleat. Hope this helps.

I had dreamed of folding this model ever since I first saw pictures of it on the net. Now I could finally try my hand on it, and thanks to your clear and well-paced directions, was able to complete it with little difficulty. Thank you!

I actually modified the female head a bit, since I don't really like the gaping V shape of it. So instead of the second inside reverse fold I made a valley-mountain pleat from chin to neck, to make the remaining point stand up vertically (and then outside-reversed it normally). This gives the head a nice and round shape, though not so 3D, and at least with dark paper the pleat does not stand out too much. With the male, this head style leaves a bit too little hair to work with, but then again, I find that the original "chiselled" features suit him better than her.

OMG TY I finally completeed on.The hardest part was finding the type of paper that would hold lol.

Thank you for that video! My friend showed me this website and then, later, showed me his last waltz. I thought it was cool, and I really liked it. Thanks.

Yes!!!!! I DID IT! all credit goes to you - you explained each step in detail and made it easy to understand.

Great job !!!!!!

ps. keep putting more videos of origami in

i've managed to do it. it looks sooo coool. i just simply love it. thanks to you i'm now a happy man

Hi Sara,

I finally folded this model. Thank you for making the instructional video so detailed. It was really helpful. I shall be posting a pic of my completed model, shortly. :) Am looking forward to your video on Neal Elias' 'Moment of Truth', now. :D

- Ancella

I'm surprised at how well my model turned out to be! On my third attempt, I filannl got it. I must be a more experienced folder than I thought!

how do you make the 45 degree angle in 1:05 of part 2?

As explained in the video, I first pinch the point. I then align the paper with some grid marks / check that the paper lies parallel / in a right angle to the horizontal and vertical edges.

Hope this helps,

-- Sara

wish I had bigger paper!

I'm going to use wrapping paper for mine. Much bigger than what I can normaly get my hands on.

hey sara, what kind of paper did you use? sorry if this question was already asked.

thanks, dave

In the video I used Kraft paper (actually wrapping paper). I've also folded this model from tissue foil.

-- Sara

sorry but i have another question, in the first video at the beginning how did u get that square? is there any other way to get that square then to fold it into a cylinder and squash it precisely?

thanks again, dave

i was reffering to 0:42 (part one) where there was a crease at 1:3 of the rectangle(i wanted to know if there was a way to fold 1:3 of the paper not using a rluer), but i already got that part and have now finished the model. WOOOOOOOOO! thanks for the video, my friends and family love it!:)

Good to hear you folded the model, and everyone's admiring it. :)

-- Sara

I have folded this model three times now; twice as practice, and once as the final version, which I will give as a wedding present tomorrow. The first two folds were made using regular kraft wrapping paper (black on one side, white/grey on the other side) of roughly 80g/m² and it worked quite well. The result looked fine, but not amazing. When folding from thicker paper, make sure that you use a sufficiently large sheet of paper (mine was 70x23,3 cm).

The final version I folded was made from double coated Unryu (again, black and white). These colours proved to be a lot more beautiful, and the paper was slightly thinner than the gift wrapping paper. It produced a nicer result in the end, as the fibres running through the paper somehow reminded me of cloth. The downside of using Unryu is that it is difficult to shape at the end, because if you decide to wet-fold it or shape it with MC, some of the fibres will come a bit loose and the model will have a fuzzy look to it.

Overall, I'd say that while Unryu can look beautiful, it is probably a lot more easy to fold this from some kind of foil backed paper, or tissue foil. Shiny surfaces do not look very nice for this model, so I'd suggest avoiding them. Nevertheless, using the paper/foil mix may be useful for practising the model.

Wet folding it from the start would most likely produce the best results, but would also be the most labour intensive. I'm guessing that Elephant hide would end up being too thick, but perhaps I'll give that paper a go if I'm in a crazy mood. Thin Kozo and Mulberry come to mind, as both paper types can be thin, but suitable for wet-folding; thus I suppose that these two paper types would result in the best model (in my opinion).

Thank you for sharing your experience of using different paper types for this model!
Just a quick overview what I've used:
My first fold: paper laminated foil - apparently this is what Neal Elias swore by. However, I found it breaks too easily, thus showing white. I also used too small paper for my first try, but that's a different story. (I later folded the model again with the same paper, and it worked better. However, I could not entirely prevent the black layer from breaking and showing white.)
My second fold: paper/foil wrapping paper - as already mentioned shiny paper isn't the best choice. The wrapping paper was ok quality, but still a bit too soft/plasticy-feeling to actually work with it confidently. Again, paper breaks show white.
My third fold: In this video I used kraft paper. It works surprisingly well, but of course the paper doesn't have that luxurious feel to it.
My most recent fold (I believe no 5): tissue foil - the advantage here is that I can choose the color combination, and it was important for that particular rendition. Of course, you can also coat paper, as Adam suggested, but I haven't tried that yet. The look of tissue foil actually suits the model quite well - the paper shimmers a bit due to the foil in the middle. It's only a hint, nowhere near to actual shininess, but that's exactly what I like about it. This slight shimmer isn't well reflected in the photo, I fear - although with some imagination you can see it in the green.

-- Sara

Hello again,
I want to make this model out of tissue foil, since it was recommended. But I wanted to know if you could list any models or techniques we should know how to consrtuct before this model.

Juan Inastrilla

In general, I cannot name you a model you should probably give a go. However, I'd suggest you fold a handful of models before you attempt this one.
You should feel somewhat comfortable with the basic origami folds and folding accurately. This model uses box-pleating, so having folded a box-pleating model may help, too. There are a couple of crimps - one is somewhat advanced, so understanding crimps will surely make the folding of this model easier. There's also a wrap-around of paper (color change), but it's not the hardest kind around.
The best thing to practice beforehand, though, is working with tissue foil itself. It's quite different to kami, for example. Depending on how comfortable you feel with tissue foil using different paper for your first try may also be a good idea.

Hope this helps,

-- sara

I gave it a go with plain tissue foil, The result was ok maybe it was becuase it was a more detail neccesary model. Also it looked kind of crumpled for me. That as probably becuse foil crumples easily. I did get confused but I forged ahead. But I love the way thier hands come together. Looking forward to your new model (Moment of Truth)

Juan Inastrilla

About getting the guy's arm around the girl--there's always gl*e.

Gold foil paper works really well
...just not in bright light! Anyway, amazing job on the video!

By the way, can anyone tell me if long necked seed bugs have wings?

Long necked seed bugs have two pairs of wings, actually. The wings overlap and the outer pair are semi-hardened. If you are designing one I would like to see it, Best luck

I'm making it with tissue foil I was just wondering how you cut it from tissue foil

I usually cut my paper with a steel ruler and a cutting knife. I also have a guillotine paper cutter, which comes in handy if I have to cut lots of paper.

-- Sara

Hi Mrs. Adams!

I noticed that under "plans" you have the model "Llopio's Moment of Truth" by Neal Elias scheduled, and that you got permission for it. Why, exactly haven't you made the video for it yet?

~Keith! Meyers!

what is the smallest model you've ever made?
I (somehow) managed to cut a similar rectangle out of a sheet of letter paper and the result was amazing! A figure about 6 cm tall!
The paper is too weak/stiff to keep the hands together but the whole model is white and the whole family loved it.

I would say that is a marvelous piece of work. I would like to see more of them more of such videos which can actually improve my likes to this kind of art. Thanks a lot for the update. Keep sharing.

Me Liiiike!!!!! Very good tutorial, though I wish that I could get the quality higher. Oh well...


Hello Sara. I would like to congratulate you on such a fine video demonstration of this model by Neal Elias. Back in 1967/68 I can remember Neal Elias having a mention on Robert Harbins' television program series on origami televised here in the UK at that time. I have had an interest in origami since I was eight years old and am now 57. I've seen pictures of this model and have always admired it. I have many origami books collected over the years which are a good reference, but don't find the format easily to follow especially those models which are complicated to fold. That is why I am so pleased I found this video demostration of yours enabling me to fold this particular model at long last. Best Wishes. PS. You can teach an old dog new tricks after all!

Thanks for the info, on where you bought, the wrapping paper, for this model.

You have explained the steps well in your video! I am looking forward to the folding model. :) I have 1 question, what kind of paper did you use on this model? Where did you get it? Thank you!

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