How to Fold 1000 Paper Cranes

A Daunting Task

I got married in October. During the planning I remembered the legend of 1000 paper cranes and on a whim I decided to do it. I didn't know much about it and I really didn't have any idea how much 1000 actually is. So I got out my paper cutter and cut up one of the many wedding planning workbooks that my mother gave me. (I'm her oldest child so she went crazy finding wedding books at thrift stores. Most of them are from the nineties and the advice is crazy. I figure I might as well make them into decorations because I'm not going to give them to my sister and I would feel a little bad throwing them away .

After I cut out all of my squares I decided I should probably look up the legend and make sure there was real meaning behind this task and I wasn't just being crazy.

A Japanese Tradition

In Japan it is a tradition for the father of the bride to fold 1000 paper cranes for the couple so that they may have 1000 years of happiness. Sometimes cranes will be folded for babies and children to give them luck in life.

You can also fold the cranes for yourself. If you are able to complete all 1000 within a year the legend says that a crane will grant you a wish.

Many times the cranes will be displayed outdoors and allow the elements to break them down and release the wish into the universe.

Bundles of 100 sheets so I can keep track of how many I have folded. I cut all of the paper before starting.
Bundles of 100 sheets so I can keep track of how many I have folded. I cut all of the paper before starting.

I've Always Loved Origami

You have to like origami to complete this task. I used to fold cranes in high school and give them to my friends. I spent several study breaks learning how to make new origami creations. It was just sometime to do with my hands if I got bored. I would sell them to boys in my class for sticks of gum.

I also made origami flowers and taught my husband to help me fold them.

Make This Project Easier

Whenever I made cranes in high school it would be from a piece of notebook paper. I would fold the corner over to make a square and then cut the bottom off by folding and ripping. For this project you will want a paper cutter. If the sheets are not perfectly square it makes it difficult to get the cranes to fold right. You can get a paper cutter for under $15 either through Amazon or in the office section at most stores. Your local library or school should also have a paper cutter available. One of those big ones with the knife arm. Using a paper cutter will also allow you to do multiple sheets of paper at the same time. I could get up to 5 sheets up paper with the one I bought. You could probably do 10 with an industrial one from a school.

How to Fold a Flapping Crane

Set your square in front of you. If you have patterned paper you will want that facing the table. Fold the bottom of the paper up to the top.
Set your square in front of you. If you have patterned paper you will want that facing the table. Fold the bottom of the paper up to the top.
Now fold the paper sideways. This will create a square. Then unfold back to the rectangle. You just needed the crease for the next step.
Now fold the paper sideways. This will create a square. Then unfold back to the rectangle. You just needed the crease for the next step.
Fold the bottom corner up to the center so it lines up with the crease you created. Flip the paper over and do this on the other side.
Fold the bottom corner up to the center so it lines up with the crease you created. Flip the paper over and do this on the other side.
This is what the paper will look like from the top. You will want to pull the center pieces apart this will cause the outside corners to come in and touch each other. Flatten.
This is what the paper will look like from the top. You will want to pull the center pieces apart this will cause the outside corners to come in and touch each other. Flatten.
When flat this will look like a diamond. Fold each bottom side in to the center line. Then fold the top down over it.
When flat this will look like a diamond. Fold each bottom side in to the center line. Then fold the top down over it.
Open back up to the diamond shape. You just needed the folds as guides.
Open back up to the diamond shape. You just needed the folds as guides.
This is probably the trickiest step. Fold the bottom up at the crease where you folded down that top triangle. In my mind I have always thought of this as a canoe. Then it will be easy to fold the sides down flat along the creases from the last step.
This is probably the trickiest step. Fold the bottom up at the crease where you folded down that top triangle. In my mind I have always thought of this as a canoe. Then it will be easy to fold the sides down flat along the creases from the last step.
You will do this on both sides. Now fold the top part of one side over to the other. Flip the paper over and do the same thing on the other side.
You will do this on both sides. Now fold the top part of one side over to the other. Flip the paper over and do the same thing on the other side.
Then it looks like this. You're almost done. Now fold the bottom portion up to the two points and repeat on the other side. You just made wings.
Then it looks like this. You're almost done. Now fold the bottom portion up to the two points and repeat on the other side. You just made wings.
Now you want to pull the points out from the body just a little bit. You are creating the head and the tail.
Now you want to pull the points out from the body just a little bit. You are creating the head and the tail.
Fold the point down on one side to make the head. Then curl the wings outward.
Fold the point down on one side to make the head. Then curl the wings outward.
These are the cranes that flap. If you pinch under the head and pull the tail up and back the wings will flap. Don't pull too hard or you will rip it. Now you just have to make 999 more.
These are the cranes that flap. If you pinch under the head and pull the tail up and back the wings will flap. Don't pull too hard or you will rip it. Now you just have to make 999 more.

1000 Paper Cranes Completed

1000 Paper Cranes
1000 Paper Cranes

Adding the Ribbon

I decided to do 25 cranes per ribbon. I laid them out and made sure their heads and tails were folded correctly.
I decided to do 25 cranes per ribbon. I laid them out and made sure their heads and tails were folded correctly.
There is a small hole in the bottom of each crane. Insert the needle there.
There is a small hole in the bottom of each crane. Insert the needle there.
Then push the needle up through the peak on the back of the crane. Continue stringing them together.
Then push the needle up through the peak on the back of the crane. Continue stringing them together.
All of my cranes came out so good.
All of my cranes came out so good.

All of the Cranes Fully Completed

40 ribbons each with 25 cranes.
40 ribbons each with 25 cranes.
We used the cranes as the backdrop for the pictures at our wedding. Also we had a storm trooper.
We used the cranes as the backdrop for the pictures at our wedding. Also we had a storm trooper. | Source

Would You Ever Try This?

So in all this took me about 7 months of working on it off and on. Have you ever made 1000 cranes before? How long did it take you? If you haven't tried it have you heard of it or are you considering trying it? Let me know in the comments.

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Comments 3 comments

Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

Glimmer Twin Fan 12 months ago

How lovely and what a cool thing to do for a wedding. Nice pics!


somebody 4 months ago

I'm currently attempting to make 1,000 cranes! This is my first day and I have two - I want to make ten per day. The pictures are beautiful. I hope you had a happy wedding!


nochance profile image

nochance 4 months ago from Duluth, MN Author

Thanks. My wedding was the best. I found that I could get a lot done while watching tv. It was easy to just mindlessly fold. I was very inconsistent with my time. Sometimes I would get a lot done and sometimes the box would sit for a month.

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    Chloe Davis Smith (nochance)409 Followers
    22 Articles

    Chloe recently made 1000 paper cranes for her wedding. She's come a long way from the fortune teller she made on the bus in first grade.



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