Years ago I purchased a book that featured the Japanese art of “Renzuru” which is to fold multiple, connected, origami cranes from a single sheet of paper. When I saw @kenji_kujime‘s Instagram feed it reminded me how I had experimented with renzuru in the past but that was many, years ago.
I was inspired to try again but this time to be a bit more creative and combine two of my favorite folds being the tiny 3/4″ origami frog with a paper crane. The smaller (1.5″ high crane) on the right was my first attempt which led me to try a second time making a larger crane (2″ high) and suspending the frog by its front leg rather than its rear leg. Am quite happy with the result. Not sure how this will factor into future designs but it’s always fun to challenge myself with things I’m not certain can be done.
The finished models remind me very much of when I used to visit the Colusa Wildlife Refuge in California and Monterey Bay and would see herons and egrets catching their meals in shallow water.
An original design idea inspired by a piece of gift wrap cellophane that would be going into the trash. Could I make a crane from it? It turned out yes, yes I could! My very next thought was: “Hmmmmm. . . What can I put inside the hollow of the body?” Immediately I realized I wanted to fold a tiny origami heart and slip it into the crane. I tried it just in time for Valentine’s Day and was very pleased it worked!
This is a design idea I will be exploring further. There are so many possibilities! The cellophane is difficult to fold, as was the 1/4″ diameter origami heart. But the moment I finished the first one all I could think was it was well worth the effort.
If you’ve ever received a Tinygami crane that was folded flat you may wonder how to spread its wings without damaging it.
The picture above on the left shows how even when unopened the crane will usually stand on its own. But the picture on the right shows how you are able to appreciate the delicacy of this model when its wings are spread open. The problem is once you spread the wings apart the crane (often) will no longer stand up and tips to one side or the other.
The trick is found on the base/underside of the model. When folded flat the base of the wings are parallel to each other which won’t always give enough stability for a crane to be able to stand on its own.
Three things must happen to create the same stable base once the wings are opened:
1. The wings must be pulled both down and outward. I do this by placing my thumbs on the topside of each wing right up against the body to add some support as I gently pull the wings down and out. Pull too hard and you can tear the wings where they attach to the body, so slowly and carefully is the best way to do this.
2. Once the wings are down the body should have inflated with air to create a pillow effect.
3. Whether the wings are closed or open the base needs to spread open (a little or a lot) to create the four contact points that stabilize the crane. I create them by gently pinching the base of each wing between my thumbs and index fingers at the same time to create this pronounced X shape.
The wings will look like the top right figure above just after pinching the base because doing so pinches the wing to its tip. To flatten out the wing I simply smooth the crease out, again pinching with the same two fingers but this time above and below the wing to flatten it. But be careful not to lose the X shape at the base.
Some papers are easy to re-flatten the crane again. The now inflated body will simply fold back down along its original creases. But others aren’t so pliable and the body will crush instead of re-fold so be careful if you decide to flatten the crane again once you’ve opened it.
Aside from making dozens of crane and menko sets I’ve been a busy bee both shipping some out to thank friends who gave me product feedback I had asked for late last week as well as figure out how to photograph my offerings on Etsy.
I’m happy to say I think I’ve come up with my “look” on Etsy.
What do you think?
I’ll be offering up several different standard products:
Tiny Cranes that are 3/4″ high
Itty Bitty Cranes that are 3/8″ high
Tiny Frogs that are 3/4″ in diameter
All orders will include:
A menko envelope to protect your order during shipping. That is the “Tiny” sized crane and menko pictured above. To open the menko simply pull free any section and it will unfold. To re-close the menko fold it back down to the picture on the lower left then choose any section and press it flat. Follow folding the rest down in clockwise order and tuck in the fourth section beneath the flap of the first one you folded down.
2. A personalized note (especially nice if you’re giving a gift)!
At the encouragement of friends I’m adding in the option of a complimentary (free), personalized, fortune cookie styled note (3/8″ high and no longer than 3.75″) that is folded and tucked into the menko. I thought I’d have to come up with a portable laser printer for the job but I was told a handwritten note is more personal. What do you think? I think I’m going to have to work on my penmanship a bit!
3. (This promotion has ended as of November 2016) Free shipping within the U.S. (and no charge for additional items after a small fee for international orders)
Because some of the miniature origami pieces I create have very delicate points and tips to them (think crane head and tip of tail and frog’s feet) I needed to figure out a way to protect them during shipping once I begin selling them from my Etsy shop.
Then I discovered this Paper Kawaii tutorial that shows how to make a menko, which is a traditional origami fold that can best be described as a very ornate envelope, of sorts. My tinygami pieces will be tucked safely inside the menko then placed in a regular letter envelope to ship them to their new homes.
I’ll be individually photographing each of the above ensembles and will be listing them on Etsy in the coming days.
Very excited to be moving forward! 2016 is going to be a great year 🙂
I used to tell people (and I sincerely believed) that I had some bizarre form of what I could only call Creative OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). What else could explain why I would and could fold thousands upon thousands of origami cranes? I never thought about it hard enough to make the distinction if (for me) committing myself to origami was a decision or a compulsion. I was just grateful that if I did have OCD my energy was channeled into something with an end result that was beautiful.
Though I’ve read books and articles about mindfulness and meditation I can’t say I’m one who has ever fully embraced the idea of the act of setting aside time to meditate as a normal part of my day to day life. I understand that the goal is to achieve a state of consciousness in which one is aware of but not connected to one’s own thoughts, feelings, and/or self. It’s a type of clarity that is created when you are able to let go of your “self” and observe rather than get caught up in what is happening in your own mind.
Folding has never made me feel frustrated or impatient, quite the opposite actually. When I fold I feel nothing but calmness. Because the precision of each fold is the most important thing, even when folding the most simple of models, it creates a mental space that requires a single focus. The byproduct of this clarity is that all other thoughts (in my head) and distractions (in the environment around me) are left unnoticed.
I do recall it was years and years ago (well over a decade) that a person who saw a set of my tiny cranes for the first time and stated: “I’ve heard of working meditation before but never understood what that meant until now.” With that a new concept was introduced to me that the focus, time, patience, precision, and repetitiveness of folding tiny cranes was creating a benefit I wasn’t appreciating beyond the finished cranes themselves. Had I in fact been meditating for years without realizing it?
When I was asked to teach an origami class to preschoolers I instantly recalled the paper cup as being one of the first things I learned to make as a child. It’s both easy to make and functional. You can put things inside of it!
It’s what I call a forgiving fold meaning everything doesn’t have to be absolutely precise to create a successful cup. Made from a small piece of paper (we used 6″ sheets of origami paper) the cup becomes a container. Made from a large piece (like a newspaper) it can be a hat! One of the things I love most about origami is that you can use any kind of paper, not just origami paper. Some to try would include:
Gift wrapping paper
Kitchen baking parchment
Gum and candy wrappers
1. Begin with a square piece of paper. Fold in half from corner to corner to create a large triangle.
2. Now fold the right side of the triangle along the dotted line the goal being to keep the top edge of the section parallel to the bottom. Set crease. See below.
3. Now do the same with the left section folding it across and over the right section you just folded. Set crease.
4. This next step you can fold both of the upper flaps at once or do them individually as you fold and tuck them into the cup. Either way you fold them against the top of the cup along the dashed line. I prefer to do that individually which is how they are pictured in the tutorial.
5. This is a guideline fold to make it easier to tuck the flap into the cup so once you fold the first flap down, immediately unfold it back to its original position. (I used a more decorative origami paper with one printed side and a solid color side instead of the more typical colored on one side and plain white on the other.)
6. It should look like this.
7. Now you tuck the flap into the front pocket of the cup. This would be the left front section.
8. Now fold the remaining flap forward and up again like the last one if you didn’t do them both at the same time and tuck it into the large opening to form the cup.
9. That’s it! You’re done! Congratulations and thank you for visiting the Tinygami blog 🙂