Introduction: Kirigami Crane

About: (Educational) Designer, Researcher, and Developer

Kirigami: Literally translated as to cut paper. It is a variation on origami, usually the paper is folded first and then cut. It might sound a bit strange, but there's one kirigami model I think a lot of you have actually made: cutout snowflakes. You fold a square or round paper, cut out your design and unfold it to reveal your snowflake. Those snowflakes are what inspired me to make this project.

I always loved making those snowflakes. When I was reminded of them last week, I realised how much I actually always enjoyed making them. But, just making those snowflakes wouldn't be enough, I wanted to think of something new, something yet unthought of. That's how the idea of a crane with cutout wings was born. I experimented a bit and then came up with a way to make this idea reality.

You can go as crazy as you want with the pattern on the wings! I went with stripes, but anything is possible. Take a look here for example.

Step 1: Materials

To make a kirigami crane, you will need:

- origami paper

- scissors

- glue

- exacto knife

- pencil

Step 2: Where to Cut

To find out how the paper should be folded in order to be able to cut the pattern, I folded an origami crane and coloured one of its wings. I then unfolded it again and looked at how it could be folded to get there. Once I thought I knew, I tried it, folded the crane again and was happy to see it actually worked.

Step 3: The Crease Pattern

Start by folding the paper in half on both diagonals and horizontals. Unfold and refold them in opposite directions a few times. Next, fold the corners to the diagonals to create the folds shown in picture 2. Repeat this for all corners in all directions, so you end up with the pattern shown in the last picture.

Step 4: Folding

Fold the paper in half on one of the diagonal creases. Bring up the left and right corners by folding the creases marked in the first picture. To complete the folding, fold the paper in half with the 'open' side facing up as shown.

Step 5: The Design

In your folded piece, you can see a little crease, marked in the picture as well. Every part from this line to the point can be used to draw your design on. If you draw on the open side of the triangle (the one with more layers visible), your design will be on the middle of the wing. If you draw on the closed side of the triangle, your design will be on the outsides of the wing.

Step 6: Cutting

Depending on your design and on the size of your design, you can either start with scissors, or cut everything out using the exacto knife. For most designs, a combination of the two will work. You probably won't get through all the layers at once with the knife , but don't worry, just go to the next step.

Step 7: Unfolding

Carefully unfold the paper, making sure not to tear off a part of your design. Some layers will separate quite easily, others will need a bit more help. You can stop unfolding if only the diagonal fold is left.

Step 8: Last Bit of Cutting

Using the exacto knife, cut out the last bits and carefully remove the parts you cut away. Now you can also unfold that last fold.

Step 9: Folding the Crane I


Before folding this crane, I would really recommend folding a regular crane first. The folds are the same, but because of the cutout parts, some folds get a bit trickier. You can find a complete instruction on how to fold a crane here.

Fold the diagonal between the two cutout parts to be a valley fold (it's a mountain fold in the first picture). Fold in the corners at both ends of the diagonal and flatten the square you now have. Bring the side corners to the middle, making them match the pattern. Next fold down the top and crease very well. Unfold those last folds as shown in the pictures. Now you can lift up the top layer using the crease you just made. Normally, you would just fold it down in its new position, but this is where an extra step comes in.

Step 10: Glue

Glue down the two outer quarters of the wing to the middle half. Normally the paper stays in position quite well, but the cuts make it a bit weaker. Do this for both wings.

Step 11: Folding the Crane II

After the glueing, be sure to let the glue dry completely. Once it has dried, you can just continue folding your crane.

Fold in the sides to the center on both sides. Fold both 'legs' up, crease and unfold, then turn the folds inside out and fold them up again. Repeat this for the top of one of the legs to create a beak.

Step 12: The Finished Crane

And then you can just fold down the wings and you are finished!

I really hope you liked this idea and maybe will try it yourself!

Papercraft Contest

Participated in the
Papercraft Contest

Homemade Gifts Contest

Participated in the
Homemade Gifts Contest