So when I was a child, my grandfather gave me an old hardbound book on the Japanese paper art of Origami. I think I learned everything the book taught, and the next time I went to see my grandparents my parents made sure I had a folder full of paper so I could show my Grandpa everything I had learned. I have forgot most of the book, but a couple of items have stuck in my head. So this one is for my Grandpa.
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Step 1: Make a Square
First thing you need is a square piece of paper. Size doesn't matter, but it has to be square (pic 1 is what I'll be using, a standard 8.5 x 11 inch sheet of printer paper). The easiest way to get this is to fold one corner and line up the edge to make a triangle (pic 2), then remove the excess...I used scissors.
Step 2: The First Tricky Step (Inward Folding)
Ok, you have a square piece of paper folded into a triangle. Look at pic 1. You need to fold your paper against the folded edge of the triangle and bring the 2 points together (pic 2). The next step is to keep the to points together and fold the edges of one side to create a square. (pics 3, 4). Repeat with the other side to create a finished square (pic 5). Picture 6 shows the insides of your newly created square. This is the inward folding that will create the finished crane.
Step 3: More Inward Folding
Now you have 4 more inward folds that need to be completed. You have 2 outer sections and one inner section. The easiest way to make these folds is to fold along the interior section until you hit the crease (pic 1), then fold the outer section so it's flush to the tip (pic 2). Repeat with the other point (pics 3 & 4), then flip and finish the other 2 points until you have a diamond (pic 5). Picture 6 shows the interior points.
Step 4: Now on to the Outer Folding...
Take your newly created diamond (pic 1) and fold down the 2 sides (pic 2) to create a parallelogram with a split down the middle of one side (pic 3). Now fold the entire thing in half by the long axis (pic 4). You should now have a different parallelogram (pic 5) that also creates a diamond. The top 2 separate triangles sticking out of the diamond will become the head and tail of your crane. First fold the other edges up to create a triangle "egg"
Step 5: Time to Fly
Fold the 2 sides you just folded to create a triangle back down a bit, then fold one of the slender triangles into itself (pic 1) to create the head (pic 2). You now have a very stiff looking bird (pic 3). Fold the entire tail back about 1/2 way (pic 4) and fold the creases along the bottom (pic 5). Do the same for the neck (pics 6 & 7). Fold each wing down to the bottom of the neck to create a bend in each wing (pic 8). I usually stick a finger inside the wing and use my finger to help shape the curve (which is impossible to do and use my camera at the same time).
I usually fold the base from the tail (pic 7 again) outwards to create feet so it will stand up on my desk. You can see in the final pic that the tail and neck are still together, but the crane is resting on the tripod created by the front point on the bottom of the neck, and the 2 rear points of it's newly created feet.
Step 6: Finished Crane!
Voila! You have created a traditional paper crane! Once you make a few, all the weird inward folding will become second nature. Thanks for the book Grandpa.