If someone asked me to make an origami swan, I’d have a hard time doing it, so I can’t imagine being able to construct a complete globe of the Earth by folding paper. But those with more patience and papercrafting skills than I should check out this tutorial that was recently posted on Instructables.
The trick to building the paper globe is that it’s made up using little triangular units, each of which interlocks to form a piece of the finished model. He started out by printing a map projection that accounted for the curvature of the earth, then mapped out which paper colors would correspond to each continent. Once he had his plan, he had to individually fold over 1,400 pieces of paper, and assembled the globe one slice at a time, starting from the equator out.
The tutorial includes a listing of exactly how many triangles are needed for each slice, though I imagine you could simply multiply these counts if you wanted to build a bigger version – with some extra rows added to keep it round and not too blocky. The main sphere is held together without glue, though the base structure benefits from some hot glue, and yes the globe actually spins, thanks to a pencil running through its center.
The Instructables tutorial makes it all sound simpler than it looks, especially since Jorik did all of the hard work planning things out. Still, you’re gonna need a lot of time and patience if you decide to build one of these for yourself,