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Folding a Traditional Origami Crane

The origami crane is one of the most celebrated paper folding projects of all time. It's often the first project that beginning paper folders learn how to make once they decide they're interested in origami. The origami crane motif is so popular that it can be found on paintings, posters, wall decals, trinket boxes, and T-shirts. Some people even get origami crane tattoos to symbolize peace and harmony. To fold a traditional origami crane, you will need a square sheet of origami paper. If you do not have a lot of origami experience, start with larger papers.

Smaller sheets are hard to work with because of the detail required in folding the steps of the crane. Origami cranes look pretty folded from patterned paper, but you might find it easier to practice the folding the model with a light-colored solid paper first. Sometimes, it can be hard to see the creases when folding dark or busy patterned papers. The crane in this tutorial is made using an 8 1/2-inch x 11-inch paper cut into an 8 1/2-inch x 8 1/2-inch square. An origami crane begins with a square base. Place your paper colored side up. Fold in half diagonally and open. Then fold in half along the diagonal the other way. Turn the paper over to the opposite side. Fold the paper in half, crease well and open. Then, fold again in the other direction.


Using the creases you have just made, bring the top three corners down toward the bottom of the paper. Flatten the model to complete your square base. The origami crane is created using a bird base. A bird base is a square base plus two petal folds. To turn your square base into a bird base, fold the top left and right flaps into the center and unfold. Fold the top of the model downward to create a horizontal fold that connects the diagonal folds you just made. Crease well, and then unfold. When you are finished, your paper should look like the photo to the left. Open the upper flap, pressing the sides of the model inwards at the same time. Flatten down, creasing well. When you are finished, your crane should look like the photo to the left. To complete the bird base, turn the model over and repeat the petal folds in Step 3 and 4 on the other side. Fold top flaps into the center as shown in the photo. Flip your origami crane over, then repeat this step on the other side. Fold both "legs" of your origami crane up as shown in the photo. Unfold. Inside reverse fold the legs along the creases you just made to create a head and tail for your crane. Fold the wings down to complete your origami crane.

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