Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Art of Paper Cranes

I have been making paper frogs since I was first taught how in first grade when I was about 6 years old. I have made them for quite a few people, and have even watched with disturbed tolerance as a wedding guest once "dissected" one of my frogs that was being used as a table decoration.

But my frogs aren't proper origami, or at least I didn't think they were. Instead of a square of paper, they use a rectangle made of two squares. And whenever I made a frog, people would ask if I could make a crane. No, I didn't know how. So one day last year I went to YouTube and watched about a dozen videos and played with paper until I could make my very own paper cranes in the traditional style. And I've made a bunch since then, although I've probably lost count (edit: 187 as of this morning*).

After awhile I settled into a crane-making routine. Every morning I have a calcium chew with my breakfast, and every morning I take the wrapper and make it into a crane. So I have one for every day over the last however many days. Rather than dump them in a pile, I had them lined up nicely on a table in front of the window.

An array of cranes

Well, the table began to run out of room, and it seemed silly to leave them all there, so I called my Mom and asked for some thread and needles, since it seemed rather pointless to buy those supplies when I know she has tons of extras hanging around. She promptly supplied them, and I promptly did nothing with them for a few weeks. Until a couple of days ago.

First I gathered up 100 cranes into a pile:

A pile of 100 cranes

Next I used my long out-of-practice skills to thread the needle and start to put the cranes on a line of thread. It took me a few tries with the first crane to figure out how to get it to sit evenly on the thread. I also wasn't sure whether to put knots or anything between each crane. I decided to just string them on one after another and see what happened.

Every fifth crane I make is white, the inside of the wrapper showing instead of the outside. I may reverse that for a future chain of cranes. For this chain, I started with two normal cranes, put a white one on, then four regular followed by a white and so on.

Stringing up the paper cranes

The threading was easy after a while, although I did manage to poke myself *sigh*. I got 100 cranes on the thread, then tied off the top and made a big old loop to hang it with. Then I cut the thread off the spindle at the bottom, rethreaded the needle, and sewed the bottom crane into place so it wouldn't move around, knotting it as carefully as I could manage when I was done. I would have preferred a bead or something to put at the bottom, but I must confess a strange satisfaction to sewing through a crane to make it stay put.

Here's the result, hanging from the hinge of a closet door:

A string of 100 paper cranes

That's the first 100 cranes. I've got another 19 or so on my next string already, headed for 1000 one day at a time...

*Edit: 187 cranes, but I'm only stringing up ones made with the calcium chew wrappers, so my total is 119 of those. Many of the others got given away, or are a completely different size. I'm keeping track in my Daily Writing.


Sleestak said...

I make those between customers out of abandoned coupons and ads and give them to kids in line.

Tegan said...

The frogs are way more popular with the kids (I actually make them and give them away at Church) because they hop. Some of my frogs have been known to hop over pews and into unsuspecting adult hair.

Jim said...

I want to learn how to make your frogs. I've made a few different types but only the ones I once learned in grade school would hop.

Michael Jones said...

I bought several pair of crane earrings at one of the Art Auctions I attended last month. Very popular in Japan right now.

Tegan said...


Perhaps I'll put up a lesson on how to make them, if I can get myself to put one together.


I'm not surprised. Japan needs some good luck.