How to Make an Origami Crane

two origami cranes

Whether you're planning to make a thousand cranes in order to get a special wish or simply want to practice your skills with this origami bird, it's helpful to know how to make an origami crane.

Getting Your Wish

In Japanese culture and literature, cranes are symbolic of good luck. There's a legend that says that if you make a thousand origami cranes, you'll receive whatever you most want. While the process of making these cranes can be somewhat time-consuming, it's a great opportunity to clear your head and formulate the perfect wish. When the cranes are completed, they are often strung together as garlands or given as gifts.

Origami Basics

If you're just getting started with origami, making cranes is a great way to perfect some of the most important paper folding techniques. Cranes, like most origami birds, start with the bird base. This simple base is one of the fundamentals you'll need to know to create a variety of animals. It helps to practice the bird base a few times before you begin constructing your crane.

Making cranes can also help you learn to fold the paper with precision. With origami, your paper folds need to be perfect. Otherwise, your shape may end up looking lopsided. Make sure you have a smooth, clean folding surface. It can also help to use a bone folder or straight edge to create very crisp folds.

Instructions for How to Make an Origami Crane

Once you've created your bird base, you can make a crane by following these instructions:

  1. With the longest point of the bird base toward you, fold the top paper layer of each side corner in towards the center of the base. Repeat this step on the other side of the shape. Your shape now looks like a diamond with a slit in the bottom point.
  2. To create the crane's head, fold one of these bottom points up at about a 45-degree angle. Crease the fold, and unfold it. Then reverse fold it to create the neck. Repeat with the other side of the bottom point to create the crane's tail.
  3. About a third of the way from the end of the neck piece, fold the paper at an angle to create the head of your bird. Crease the fold, unfold it, and then reverse fold it.
  4. On either side of the crane's body, you'll see wide triangular shapes that are sticking up. Fold these down so they are even with the rest of the body. These are your crane's wings.

Alternative Materials

Most origami instructions are for cranes made from traditional square origami paper. However, you can also make cranes from some of the following materials:

  • Paper money
  • Wrapping paper
  • Scrapbook paper
  • Business cards
  • Stiff fabric

You can also use paint, glitter, markers, and other supplies to decorate your cranes. This can be a fun way to share the activity with young children, who may find the actual folding process too much of a challenge.

Stringing Your Cranes

Crane garlands are traditionally given as gifts to celebrate major life events like weddings or the birth of a child. To make a crane garland, simple use a sharp needle with some strong thread. Tie a tight knot in the thread and pierce the bottom of a crane, drawing the needle out through the middle of the back. Tie another knot to secure the crane, and then string another the same way. If you'll be stringing 1000 cranes, you may want to group them in garlands of 100.

More Complicated Origami Creations

Now that you know how to make an origami crane, you'll find that your origami folding skills are ready for more complicated projects. Try some of the following:

How to Make an Origami Crane