The origami peace crane is a Japanese classic. Legend has it that anyone who makes one thousand paper cranes is granted a wish.
Make each fold very carefully as you go through these instructions. Match the corners up exactly, and use your fingernail or a credit card to make very crisp folds.
Be careful as you fold--it is easy to give yourself a painful paper cut.
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Start with the piece of origami paper color face down. Fold and unfold the paper diagonally in half in both directions to form creases in the shape of an X.
Fold and unfold the paper rectangularly in half in both directions to form two more creases. You should now have creases in the shape of a star.
Fold the paper in half diagonally twice. You should now have a triangle 1/4 the size of your piece of paper. One side of your triangle should have a single fold. The other side should have two free folds, which we will call "flaps."
This is a tricky step! Be very careful.
Place the triangle in front of you with the point up and the flaps on the left. We are going to open these flaps and squash them into squares.
Lift up one flap to unfold your triangle halfway. The flap should form a perpendicular angle with the table. There should be an opening in the flap. Place your finger in the opening. Press your finger down gently while holding the other flap firmly to the table (pic 1). Run your finger up toward the point so that a square shape starts to form. Press the top, center crease of the new square down to the table (pic 2).
Now flip your paper over and repeat on the other side.
Lift the second flap up to form a perpendicular angle. Place your finger in the opening and press it down gently to the table (pic 3). Run your finger up toward the point to form the square. Press the top, center crease down to the table (pic 4).
Step 5: Checkpoint 1
You should have a square with all loose ends on one side and folds on the other. There should be two flaps on the right side and two flaps on the left side. If you have three flaps on one side and only one on the other, fold one of the three flaps over like a book to the other side. Make sure your corners match up nicely. If they don't, adjust the creases until the corners match.
Place the square with the loose ends towards you. Fold the bottom edge of the left flap in to the center line (pic 1). Repeat with the right flap (pic 2). Flip your paper over and repeat this process with both flaps on the other side (pic 3). You should now have a kite-shape.
Form a crease by folding the top of the kite down. Fold it so that the crease forms right along the top of flaps you folded in to the center in the last step.
This is another tricky step!
Unfold the flaps to reform your square (pic 1). You should have the free ends towards you. If your free ends are at the top of your square, go back to step six. This time, fold your flaps in with the free ends towards you.
Lift up the top layer of paper. The top, triangular portion of your square, which you sectioned off with the crease made in the last step, should not open. Hold it down with your finger (pic 2). Now fold the left edge of the paper in to the center line to form half of a diamond (pic 3). You will reverse existing creases in this step, not create new ones. Now fold the right edge of the paper in to form the full diamond.
Flip your paper over and repeat this process on the other side. Unfold your flaps and lift up the top layer of paper. Hold down the crease you made in step seven with your finger. Fold the right and left edges of the paper in toward the center line to form a diamond (pic 4).
Step 9: Checkpoint 2
Your folded paper should look like a diamond. Two free "legs" should form the bottom half of your diamond. Each leg should have a top and bottom flap. The top half of your diamond should have two "wings" with a small triangular "body" between them.
Check your creases and corners. If some of the corners to not match up well, adjust your creases so that they match up.
The folds you make in this step will be very similar to the folds you made in step 6.
Place the diamond with the legs towards you and the wings up. Fold the outer edge of the top flap of the right leg in toward the center (pic 1). Repeat this with the top flap of the left leg (pic 2).
Flip your paper over and repeat this process with the flaps on the other side (pic 3). You should now have a kite shape. Once again, the bottom portion of your kite should be two legs. The top portion should be two wings with a smaller body between them (pic 4).
We are now going to make the neck.
Fold one of the legs up to a 45 degree angle to crease the paper, then fold the same leg in the opposite direction to make the crease more pronounced (pic 1). Next, you are going to fold the leg up between the wings. Do this by reversing the existing fold in the leg. Open the leg and pull it up toward the wings. It should become flat (pic 2). Continue to reverse the fold until the leg ends up between the two wings (pic 3).
Repeat the same process for the other leg to form the tail. Make a crease by folding the left leg to a 45 degree angle in both directions. Then reverse the fold so the leg ends up between the wings.
You are almost done!
Next you are going to make the head.
Fold the tip of one leg downward (pic 1). Reverse the fold as you did in the previous step (pic 2 and 3).
Finally, you are going to enlarge the body of the crane.
Fold the top wing of the crane all the way down and crease the paper so it stays in place (pic one). Flip the paper over and repeat with the other wing (pic 2). Then, gently pull the wings gently apart so that the body of the crane becomes larger (pic 3). If needed, you can press softly on the point of the body to make it stay inflated.
Step 15: You're Done!
Congratulations! You just made an origami peace crane. Now you can go fold 999 more!
If you don't like the angles of your tail and neck, you can adjust them.
If the corners of your wings aren't sharp, you can adjust the creases slightly to make them match up better.
If your crane is misshapen and the creases are not easily adjusted to look better, you may need to begin again with a new piece of paper. Make each fold very precisely. Pay special attention to the two checkpoint stages. At each stage, make sure the corners match up and each fold is crisp.