One Fold after Another

As promised in my previous post, it’s time to show you some of my mid-week creations. I spent an hour or so in the evening making these. Providing you have the patience, it can be a very therapeutic process. They also make great decorations for around the house.  These were all made from the origami paper purchased at the Japan Centre.

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My two favourite designs are the lily and crane. Both are very traditional, with no scissors or glue involved!

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Here are some tips I find useful:

  • Work on a hard flat surface (I use an old sketchbook on my lap). This will help create the precise folds.
  • Spend some time getting the base folds correct. If you have a good starting point, it will make further folds/inversions easier.
  • If you have never done a design before, and want some practice, grab an A4 piece of paper and create a square by bringing one corner to the other side. You will get a larger square than the standard origami paper. This should make things easier.
  • Don’t worry if you make a mistake. Just unfold either completely, or a few stages and try again. Try to resist the temptation to scrunch it into a ball and throw it in the bin (kind of ruins the calm feeling).
  • If a set of instructions becomes confusing, just search for some alternatives. I often find that some steps are clearer when photographed in stages.

The origami crane 折鶴 (Orizuru) is one of the most famous designs. A Japanese legend states that by folding no less than one thousand, you are granted a wish by a crane. Cranes are holy creatures in Japan, said to live 1000 years. So that’s one folded crane for every year of its’ life. The thousand origami cranes 千羽鶴 (Senbazuru) are strung together and often given as gifts at weddings or the birth of a child. The crane is probably the design I saw most whilst in Japan. I even own a pair of Orizuru earrings!

Other designs I tried out were the koi carp, butterfly, heart and an 8-pointed vase. The butterfly was straight forward and I would like to find a more intricate design. Initially, I was hesitant about the 3D heart, however with the right paper it can look quite effective. Finally, the ‘vase’ (more like a very small bowl) needs some work. I will try this again with a larger piece of paper.

The koi is good fun to make, if a little fiddly. ニシキゴイ(Koi) are symbols of love and friendship in Japan, they quickly gather at the surface of a pond when anyone comes close. I took the photo at the top of the page in Tokyo at the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden. The Koi popped up hopefully within 30 seconds of me standing there. The Heian Shrine in Kyoto has a beautiful garden with an iconic bridge across it’s lake (more on this to come). Here you can buy fish food for the Koi. I watched happily as some Japanese school children, scattered the flakes in to the water. In moments it changed from a tranquil mirror-like surface, to a lively thrashing of fish.

I still have plenty of sheets of paper left, so I will be on the look out for more designs to try. Part of me is also itching to attempt the Thousand Crane challenge. To complete it within the year I would need to do 2-3 (2.74 precisely) a day. Not sure what I would do either with the 25 strings of 40 cranes! So, what do people think? Worth the effort for a single wish?

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