How to open an origami crane

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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.

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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:

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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.

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2. Once the wings are down the body should have inflated with air to create a pillow effect.

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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.

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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.

I hope this tutorial is helpful to you. If you have any questions or need clarification feel free to leave a comment or contact me privately by CLICKING HERE.

Origami OCD

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.

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Current set of 1000 origami cranes I’m working on for ArtPrize 2016.

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.

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This 5/16″ (.793 cm)  high crane is still larger than the 1/4″ cranes I make.

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.

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Batch folding the first four steps of making paper cranes.

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?