1000 paper cranes

1000 paper cranes
  • When we planned our wedding, I had the idea of folding 1000 paper cranes to decorate behind the top table. I also had 1000 other ideas of crafts to do and inevitably ran out of time. However, I had already purchased the supplies and I wanted my wish: my long and happy marriage.

The Plan

Again, full of hopeful plans, I decided to fold the cranes for our first wedding anniversary. Legend has it, that folding the cranes will grant you happiness and given that the first anniversary is ‘paper’ it seemed like a great plan. I would only need to fold 20 a week and they would be ready one year later. And so, with great enthusiasm I embarked on folding 1000 paper cranes.

11 months later I remembered my plan. I looked in the jar I had been storing them and started counting. It didn’t take long. I had folded a grand total of 10 paper cranes. 10!

My timeline had drastically changed and so I got folding straight away. At first, I folded each bird one at a time trying to get quicker as I went. Eventually after about 100 paper cranes I was down to 1 minute 30 seconds per bird. That meant that it would take another 23 hour’s to fold the rest of the origami birds.

Folding the Senbazuru … 1000 Paper Cranes

By now, the deadline was 2 weeks away. It was still possible but it was going to be tough. I needed to hurry up! It felt like I was cheating a little but I changed how I folded the little birds. I took about 5-10 squares of paper and did the first 4 folds. This was stage one. I did this stage until I had a massive pile.


I then started on stage 2: making little squares. This stage was super quick and I felt like I was achieving something which helped me work faster.

This bag full of half folded paper cranes came with me everywhere!

Finally, stage 3 was a little more complicated. The last stage involved completing the rest of the folds. The origami squares I bought were quite small so this was quite tricky. I strongly recommend buying bigger paper if you aren’t confident folding origami. Having taught children in Japan, I had spent plenty of time folding paper but even I found this tricky. At first, I inflated the birds, but in the end I left them flat as this part was too fiddly with such little paper cranes.

I could now do 100 paper cranes in 2 hours which actually shaved 30 minutes off my time!

Then I woke up in pain. I could not move my hand. Because the squares were so small and I was folding for long stretches at a time, I had given myself RSI. This meant I couldn’t fold for 3 days while the swelling and pain went down. It was quite funny explaining to people why I was wearing my wrist in a support strap. Eventually I was healed, and we were down to the final countdown. Of course it was also my daughter’s birthday, and I had decided to hand make 6 different activities so I had loads of spare time. When will I learn?!

I folded on my friends sofa during a play date.

I folded in the doctor’s waiting room.

I folded while drinking Prosecco on a girls’ night.

I folded while I waited for my car to be MOT’d at the garage.

But I did it! And they are such a thing of beauty. All this time, I’d been wondering how I would present this gift to my husband given that we no longer had a top table or indeed anywhere big enough for a 1000-bird art installation. As much as I would love to have them hanging on our living room walls a) the walls aren’t big enough and b) how the hell would I dust them?! Eventually I stumbled upon the idea of framing them. My frame needed to be deep and eventually Amazon provided the perfect solution.

Starting to assemble 1000 paper cranes in a deep box frame with a papercut print on the front. The senbazuru in rainbow colours were folded then placed in a box for display as a wedding anniversary gift.

It had also occurred to me that this was more a gift for me than for my husband. So to remedy that, I enlisted the help of Kyleigh’s Papercuts. Our wedding readings were really special to us and I knew M would love a gift that included them. Kyleigh made us the most amazing bespoke paper cut with our readings on. I cannot recommend her highly enough: funny, kind, creative and she makes funny cards too! Find her on Etsy, her own site or on  Not On The High Street. The birds look beautiful behind the papercuts.

1000 paper cranes behind a papercut with the wedding reading. This made the perfect gift for our paper wedding anniversary. Senbazuru - 1000 paper cranes are usually hung up but these are displayed as a keep sake in a deep box frame.

And to make it even more special, they are rainbow colours. It feels like a good omen for this year when we will hopefully get our Rainbow baby. Do you think I could be granted 2 wishes? Maybe it’s time I started folding my second senbazuru


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