Saturday, December 14, 2013

1000 Cranes

Inspiration comes in all shapes and sizes.  I get inspired to write a story by overhearing just a snippet of conversation whilst standing in line at the grocery store; I discover a book because I was inspired by a review of an author's work; I was inspired to learn a new thing from a one minute blurb on the television.

Really.  One minute.

Here's how it happened...

A commercial starts with this little girl crying, her father comforts her by giving her a tiny little silver origami crane.  Next comes a series of little vignettes as the girl grows up and at each stage in her life, whether she's lost the big game, or fallen off her bike, or gets dumped by her boyfriend, her Dad is there to comfort her...and he always gives her a little silver crane.  At the end she's going off to college and Dad is loading the car with the stuff she's taking with her.  He accidentally drops a smallish cardboard box...and out tumble dozens and dozens of little silver cranes.  It's one of the best ads ever, though don't ask me what the product is.  Don't have a clue.  I was too busy tearing up over the story.

So, later I'm thinking about those silver cranes, and origami..and why haven't I ever learned how to do such a cool thing?  I go online, print out instructions, dig out some paper from my craft supply cupboard and have a go.

And let me just say straight out that origami might look easy, but man, I think it took me an hour to decipher the folding diagrams, and I went through many sheets of paper that ended up in frustrated balls the recycling bin.  Finally I got smart, went back online and watched a video...over and over and over.  My initial crane looked like a frog with a stick up his butt.

Yesterday I went to the craft store and bought some real origami paper--which turns out to be much lighter than what I was using, and perfectly square which is very important.  Then after another Google, I finally found the best instructions (meaning I could understand them) and last night I was determined to teach myself how to make a real origami crane. 

[And on the topic of instructions: I found three completely different methods to make the crane, though I don't understand why there should be a difference--it's the same bird.  One was so convoluted and complicated, it should be taught to grad students working toward their doctorates in quantum physics; one didn't work at all, I think they must have left out a step or three.  Though on the other hand, there are probably ten-year-old kids out there who can do this in their sleep...]

The most wonderful 500-sheet assortment of authentic Japanese origami paper.  The colors are rich and yummy, and perfect 6" squares.  And hey!  My first little crane that actually looks like it's supposed to...

So, the first one took me about fifteen minutes and one wasted sheet of gorgeous red paper.  The one above took me about ten minutes.  Then I had a great idea for getting the technique cemented in my brain:

Decorating my wee Christmas tree with red crane ornaments...

What fun it is to make these little birds.  And I can make one now in about two minutes.  Once I wrapped my head around the weird folding bits, the technique is truly easy to master.

Along the way, I discovered there is an old Japanese legend that says anyone who folds 1000 paper cranes will so please the gods, the folder is granted a wish, usually for health, good luck or a long life.  In some stories it's said for the wish to come true, the 1000 cranes must be made within one year and can only be done by the person making the wish.

I wonder how long it would actually take to fold 1000 cranes?  I'm thinking this might be a fun thing to do in the new year.  I don't know exactly what I would do with that many cranes, though I saw several cool ideas online.

I loved these...

So, inspired by a poignant and wonderful one minute advertisement on television, I have taught myself an amazing and beautiful art form that has further inspired me to attempt the 1000 Crane project in 2014. 

How cool is that?


  1. Very cool...

    When out, Sabina's been known to origami ducks out of napkins. just her funny little way.

  2. A beautiful obsession in the making. :-)

    A local sushi house has these at the place mats at the bar. I always take one.


    1. It will be fun to do this...though at the moment I can't imagine actually making 1000 cranes... ;D

      And what a clever thing for the restaurant to do!