Origami is the ancient art of folding paper, originating in Japan. Perhaps the most iconic design is the paper crane. It was believed that if you fold 1,000 of these paper cranes, you will be granted a wish. They are a symbol of hope, and often times those who fold 1,000 string them up and give them as gifts.
I personally got into the art of origami 8 years ago, and have folded countless paper cranes over the years. I find it very relaxing and repetitive to fold paper. I like to find a challenge in origami, folding from different materials (tin foil, gum wrappers, extremely small pieces of paper, etc.). Soon you will also learn how to fold a crane!
Step 1: Materials
Here's what you'll need to make your origami crane:
- A Square piece of paper
There are many different types of paper you can use, but be sure that it is perfectly square. Your creations may come out lopsided otherwise. You can purchase a pack of origami paper if you wish, but it is not necessary. Regular printing paper will also do the trick if it is cut evenly.
That's it! The reason i love origami is that it is such a simple concept. Now lets get folding!
Step 2: Origami Cranes
Now we get to fold the origami cranes! Here's what you need to know about origami before you start folding.
There are two main kinds of folds in origami, the mountain fold and the valley fold. They are exactly what you think they are too!
A mountainfold is when the crease is at the top of the paper and the paper tends to fold behind it. In this fold, the paper naturally looks like a "mountain"
A valley fold is when the crease is on bottom, and the paper tends to fold on top of it. This makes the paper fold in like a valley.
I recommend starting with a 3" square piece of paper. This is a standard origami size, and will make it easier for you to really see what is going on.
Step 3: The Square Base
Feel free to follow along with the photos as you complete your origami crane!
- Make two mountain folds by folding the paper hamburger and then hotdog style (your paper is a square, so just fold it perpendicular and horizontal)
- Make two valley folds going diagonally across your paper.
- See how your paper naturally sits in a certain direction? press in on those valley folds until your paper looks like a smaller square. This is also called a square base.
Step 4: Bird Base
- press your square base flat so that there are two "flaps" on both sides. Then take one of those flaps and fold it in so that the bottom edge now aligns with the centerline of your square base.
- Repeat on the flap on the other side.
- See how these folds meet in the middle? The top of the flaps should align horizontally. Take the top of the square base and fold it down along this line. Make a strong crease, and then fold it back up to the top.
- Unfold both of the side flaps you folded in. Be sure that the creases are strong!
- Flip your square base over and repeat steps 1-4 on the other side.
- Look at the bottom of your creased square base. Take the very top fold of paper and lift it up away from the rest of the base.
- keep lifting it up until those creases you made on the side start to fold in.
- Help them out a bit and flatten the sides so that the edge of the paper runs right along the centerline of the paper.
- When both of these flaps are flattened flip your paper over to the other side, and repeat steps 6-8 until you have a nice diamond shape! Congratulations! You have now folded a Bird Base.
Step 5: Finishing the Crane
- Now that you have your bird base, take one of the side flaps and fold it into the center, creating a strong crease (similar to how you folded the sides in on your square base).
- Fold the other flap in as well
- Flip your paper to the other side, and fold in both of the flaps to the centerline. You should now have what looks like a very skinny bird base.
- Take one of the two flaps on the side and turn it to the other side, similar to turning pages on a book. This means that there will be three flaps on one side of the paper, and only on on the other.
- Flip your paper over, and turn one of the flaps (on the side that has three) to the other side, similar to turning pages on a book. Your paper should now look a bit like a lobster claw!
- Take the base of your claw, and fold one of the bottom flaps straight up, such that the bottom point is now at the same level as the tips of the claws.
- Flip your paper over to the other side and, you guessed it, repeat step 6!
- On the flap you just folded to the top, on only one side of the paper take the top bit of the flap, fold it back down towards the bottom of the paper. This fold determines how long your crane's beak will be. You can almost see it's shape now!
- Go ahead and turn one of the side flaps to the other side, like turning pages on a book (honestly the best analogy for this motion). Be sure to crease those bottom flaps you folded up right in the middle when the "pages" get turned.
- Flip your paper over and repeat.
- Now hold your paper at the very base, and reach into the side (between the front and back). Pull out one of the flaps you just folded up, and use your thumbs to pinch at the base of the crane to keep it in place.
- Reach into the other side and pull out the other flap, once again using your thumb to pinch the base of the crane to keep the flap in place.
- On the head of the crane, reach in and pull out the smaller "beak" flap, pinching at the fold to keep it in place as well.
- Spread the wings and feet of the crane out so that it sits nicely on your work surface!
And you've done it! Make a few more for practice, until you can make very clean and precise folds. Be sure to take your time during this process and pay attention to details, because that is the best way to ensure good results in origami! If you are feeling especially inspired, legend has it that if you fold 1,000 paper cranes, you will be granted a wish!