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DIY: Giant Origami Cranes as Holiday Decor


DIY: Giant Origami Cranes as Holiday Decor

December 24, 2014

A few days ago, when the two creative 10-year-olds who live next door came home with a giant paper swan, it immediately gave me an idea: paper cranes as holiday decor.

In Japan, origami cranes represent good fortune, hope, and peace–the perfect symbol to take us through the holidays and into the New Year. And to make them for hanging over my table, I supersized them.

Photography by Justine Hand for Remodelista.

Above: If you already know how to fold an origami crane, this project is easy. But it involves quite a few steps, so I thought I’d give you a glimpse of the results at the beginning.

Above: Handmade, decorative papers are readily available at art supply and paper stores, such as Paper Source.


  • Fine paper that is pliable, but not too flimsy
  • Ribbon or twine
  • Skewers or long toothpicks for hanging the cranes

Basic Crane Instructions 

Step 1: Unless you’re already proficient at origami, I suggest you begin by practicing with a small square of origami or other paper. First fold in half, then unfold. Turn and fold in half the other way to divide your paper into four equal squares.

Step 2: Fold the paper diagonally in half to form a triangle. Unfold and repeat in the other direction.

Above: Unfold and you will see that your paper is divided into eight equal parts.

Step 3: Collapse the form into a square base by bringing two opposite corners toward each into the center and reversing the inside fold.

Above: A complete square base. The bottom should be open and the top closed.

Step 4: Fold in the two horizontal points to meet in the middle. Turn the form over and repeat on the other side. Your completed form should look like a kite.

Step 5: Fold the top of triangle down over your two folded sides. Unfold the kite form back to the square base.

Step 6: Lift the outermost bottom flat of the square base and gently pull it up to form a long diamond. Repeat on the other side.

Above: A completed bird base should have two separated points at the bottom.

Step 7: At the bottom where the two sides remain open, fold each side over to meet in the center. Repeat on the opposite side. Then turn the form over and repeat on both ends.

Above: When all the sides are folded in, this is what the form looks like.

Step 8: Perform a reverse fold on each bottom point to bring it up to the wings.

Above: Almost there!

Step 9: Fold the tip of one of the smaller ends down to form the head. Gently pull the wings slightly down and you have an origami crane. It may sound complicated, but rest assured that the crane is one of the beginner favorites of origami. Once you get the hang of all the steps, you can easily turn out a flock.

Above: Ready to begin working with a larger piece of paper? First cut it into a square–to form a perfect square, simply fold the paper along the diagonal and cut off the excess.

Above: Once you have a large square, repeat the basic crane instructions above. 

Above: To hang your finished work, use a long sharp object strung with twine or ribbon to pierce the top of the body of the crane. (I used metal skewers.)

The Finished Look

Above: The cranes are light enough to affix to the ceiling with a piece of tape. Air currents cause them to gently turn as if in flight.

N.B. Here are more ways to usher in the New Year in style:

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