Midterm Stress Relief Week: 1000 Cranes, Give or Take A Few

After guiding you through the junior processes of forging old documents, we’ll be working with more paper for Day 2 of Midterm Stress Relief Week.

It is very likely you have heard of the Japanese legend of the thousand paper cranes (senbazuru). It is believed that a person who makes a thousand origami cranes will have one wish granted by the gods. I remember first learning about this when my third grade teacher Ms. Bennet read to the class Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes by Eleanor Coerr. It is a very moving story, all the more so because it was true (for the most part). Sadako was directly exposed to nuclear radiation during the bombing of Hiroshima and developed leukemia as a result. Determined to fight it, she set to working creating the thousand paper cranes. According to the story by Coerr, Sadako folded 644 cranes before passing. However, according to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, she folded more than a thousand, even surpassing 1300 cranes before being taken by the illness.

[To learn more and get your history/culture lesson for the day, visit the links at the bottom of this post.]

So let us begin to construct a wish today by folding a paper crane. (I apologize for the cruddy photo quality).

1) Get a square piece of paper.

If you don’t have a piece of paper that is conveniently already square, you can fold and cut one out of any rectangular sheet of paper. Take one corner of the paper and fold it diagonally downward, bringing the edge (on top) evenly against the opposite edge (on the bottom).

Cut or tear off the excess paper below.

Paper Cranes Square with Extra

Sloppy tearing job.

2) Fold the paper in half diagonally to create two diagonal fold lines that intersect at the middle.

Paper crane, diagonal lines

3) Keep the paper folded in half. It is now a triangle. Fold this triangle in half, bringing one far corner to the other far corner.

Paper Cranes Triangle

Paper crane, half triangle

4) Now, what I call a “spread open” fold. (This might be a little tricky). Open half of the triangle.

Paper cranes erect triangle

Hold down the flat half of the triangle and press down on the tip of the erect triangle half (giggity giggity?). Bring this corner down to the corner below. When you do this, it should create a diamond shape. Flatten out this diamond.

Paper crane, pin the diamond

Paper crane, diamond

Do the same thing to the other side.

Paper crane, both sides diamond

5) With the open side facing you, fold the right side in half so that the lower right edge lines up with the middle fold line.

Paper crane, first right fold

Do the same thing to the left side. And repeat on the flip side.

Paper crane, all sides folded

6) Fold the top corner down along the edges created by your previous folds.

Paper crane, fold down

Repeat on the other side.

7) Unfold the two “wings” so that the paper looks like a diamond again.

Paper crane, reopen diamond

8) Take the bottom corner (only the top layer) and lift up. It now looks like a mouth (of sorts).

Paper crane, mouth

This may take some coordination. Using the fold that you created by folding the top corner down, flatten the “mouth” upwards. The “wings” on the left and right will fold inward. Use the folding lines as your guides. It should now look like a vertically long diamond.

Paper crane, mouth 2

Paper crane, flat mouth

Repeat for the other side.

9) Fold the bottom right side inward so that the edge is against the middle line.

Paper crane, right to middle

And then what do we do? Yep, that’s right! Do the same thing to the left side.

Paper crane, left to middle

And… You got it- the other side now!

10) Almost finished. Another warning, this may be tricky. If you look at what you have now, it looks like you now have two “legs” on your paper. Open the right leg.

Paper crane, right leg flat

Paper crane, right leg flat 2

There should be a fold on the now flattened inside portion of the right “leg” from a previous step. Place your finger on this fold and tuck your thumb behind this “leg.” Your thumb should be nestled between the two legs (giggity giggity number 2?). Now fold this right “leg” up.

Paper crane, fold line

This horizontal line here.

Paper crane, fold up

Push up with your thumb. Use your index finger to keep the fold on that line.

Paper crane, fold up 2

Paper crane, fold up 3

Squeeze it/secure it in place. It’s comin’ together. This is now your tail or head. Do the same with the other “leg.” Your “legs” may get crumpled a bit in the process, especially with thicker paper.

Paper crane, head and tail

Can make neither head nor tails of it! *guffaw*

 11) Fold down the wings.

Paper crane, wing

Pull up the wings, lightly pressing the outer edges up and inward, pinching the underside of the middle fold. The middle fold down the center of the wing should go downward.

Paper crane, pinch wing

12) Finishing touch: the choosing of the head. I generally go with the more crumpled looking tip to be the head and leave the neater tip to the be pristine little tail. Fold the tip down into the “neck” and then pull it back out.

Paper crane, choose head

Paper crane, head finished

Voila! A paper crane! Now, only 999 more to go and you’re well on your way to that glorious wish.

Paper cranes multiply like rabbits

They multiply like rabbits.

If you want to learn more about the 1000 cranes tradition and the organizations it has inspired, follow these links:

  • 1000 Cranes of Hope – A unity mission by the Takeda Oncology Company. Make a wish with a digital paper crane.
  • One Thousand Cranes for Japan – Beautiful crane designs. Donate to fund artists’ work.
  • Sadako Sasaki – Wikipedia page. Several good links and resources to look into at the bottom and throughout the article.
  • Topeka Teen, Friends Seek to Help Newtown, Conn. – An eighth grader folded 1000 paper cranes in honor of the victims and families of the tragedy in Newtown.

Thoughts? Suggestions? What are you passionate about? Please share your thoughts in the comments section!

Midterm Stress Relief Week: Tea Bagging Paper With Class

Welcome to Day 1 of Midterm Stress Relief Week (MSRW), I’m your host Martha Stewart.

I’m just kidding. I’ve never [insert incarceration joke here]. But I’ve never been on any Forbes list either. And cheese and crackers, did you know she’s 71 years old? Hot damn. But enough about cosmetically enhanced successful people, let’s get down to business.

My first crafty activity for MSRW is making paper look old. The idea came up when a friend of mine asked me to write her an old-fashioned snail mail letter. It had been a while since I’d written and sent a proper letter to anyone, so I thought I’d go all out. (And by all out, I mean rubbing tea bags across cheap paper). There are a gazillion tutorials online, but here’s how I did it.

What You’ll Need:

– A flat surface that you don’t mind getting wet (baking trays work great)
– Tea bags
– Hot water
– Towels/paper towels/napkins/absorbent textile of choice
– Hair dryer

Step 1: Get Your Downton Abbey On

In other words, make some tea. It doesn’t have to be any fancy schmancy tea. Any tea will do. I chose to use black tea and it works pretty well.

Classy cheap black tea

Classy as shiz.

Soak the tea bag in hot water for about 5-10 minutes. The number of tea bags you use will depend on how much paper you’ll be “aging” and how dark you’ll want your paper to be. I used about one tea bag per half sheet of paper (~5″ x 7″).

Step 2: Prepare Paper for Tea Bag Humiliation

Set your paper on a flat surface. I used a baking tray because it has raised sides, it’s smooth, and it’s very easy to clean. I had ripped regular printer paper in half and then ripped about a half inch from the three remaining “clean” edges. When your paper is at the desired dimensions, crumple it up sufficiently to begin giving it that worn look. And then smooth it back out. The crinkles will still be there after you wet the paper.

Aging paper on baking tray

Ye Olde Paper: Before and After

[Extra: To make the paper look even more worn, you can burn the edges. I didn’t feel like messing with fire this time, but it’s something I’ll try someday. Here’s a quick and easy tutorial on how to do it. It will probably be easier to do before tea bagging the paper.]

Step 3: Tea Bag Like a Call of Duty Douchebag

Minus the douchiness. Your tea bag’s been soaking for long enough, so take it out and wring out most of the water. I found that it was easier and faster to stain the paper when the tea bag is very, very damp, but not very wet. It appears to create a darker color. If you soak it, the paper becomes more fragile and translucent and it obviously takes longer to dry. Use your towel/paper towel/napkin/absorbent textile of choice to dab the paper and soak up some of the moisture. As your paper gets wetter, be careful not to rub too hard or else you’ll tear it.

Tea Bagging Paper

That’s a used tea bag, not fecal matter.

Don’t worry about perfection – the point of the project is making the paper look imperfect. Aged paper often has uneven coloring, especially around the edges. Dab the edges with the tea bag to darken them. Also, make random splotches on the paper by dabbing various spots extra heavily. I liked to hold the tea bag a few inches above the paper and squeeze it to make droplets that dry into darkened splotches on the sheet.

Also, it’s likely that the tea bag will eventually break. Never to fear, it’s a good thing. Rub the leaves and grounds into the paper (again, careful not to tear it) to give it a more grainy, dirtied look.

Step 4: Shake It Like a Polaroid Picture

Use a hair dryer, actually. Shaking it like a polaroid picture will make you start the project over because all you’ll have are torn wads and pieces of icky wet paper. Before applying another coat of tea stain (the darker you want it, the more coats you’ll need), you have to wait for the paper to dry. A hair dryer works wonders. Some tutorials use oven baking or letting the paper dry between a towel and a heavy object for a few hours. But ain’t nobody got time for that. Just use a hair dryer.

Hair Dryer for Aging Paper

Saves time and sanity.

Step 5: Lather, Rinse, Repeat

Keep tea bagging the pages and drying them out until you’re happy with how they look. Practice and experiment. Easy as 3.14159.

Aging Paper Finished Product

Drop the needle on the gramophone. Time to party like it’s 1877.

Procure a feather quill and a bottle of ink and you’re well on your way to mastering the art of forging famous old documents. You’re welcome.

I hope this will help you pass the time between midterm study procrastination sessions. It’s a lot of fun, even for non-artsy people like me. Trust me, doing something non-assignment related is akin to a godsend.

How are you de-stressing from or in between midterms? Anything you’d suggest I try here? And if you tried this out, how did it go? Share your ideas in the comments section below.

Midterm Stress Relief Week: Hi, I’m Vivian and This Is My Friend Tony

Kids of the 90’s, sing along!

“Take one box, put it with another – let’s look for one that’s long and wide…” 

The good old days. When all we little youngsters had to worry about were collecting pogs and playing Pokemon. But now, as responsible, boring “adults” – I use that term loosely – who have embarked on this great journey called “higher education,” midterms are upon us. But do not stress, fellow student! Dig yourself out from beneath your mountainous mounds of essays and short answer responses and de-stress yourself!

We don’t have to take the crap that midterms throw at us. Take up arms and rebel! And hipsters are awful, but I’m going to phrase it like this anyway: stressing out is too mainstream. So next week, I’ll be doing one craft or activity a day to relieve the stress from my sickly, desiccated mind. [That’s how the “Out of the Box” clip is relevant. Plus, that show was just awesome. Period.] So get out your smocks, glitter glue, and crazy scissors. It’s arts and crafts time, folks.

I haven’t made a plan of what I’ll be doing everyday (because to hell with plans), but my first craft will be making paper look old. It’s not a riveting, edge-of-your-seat kind of activity, but that’s part of the point. This is supposed to help relieve the tension and stress that midterms have throttled on my nerves.  It should be a week of zen. The end product should look really cool, but that’s if I manage not to screw it up. I’ll be documenting the steps and whether or not it turns out to be a glistening success or a piece of crap. Maybe this will be ironically stressful. If so, well, all the more to write about.

If you have any suggestions of things I should try to do or make, feel free to drop me a line! I’d love to hear your ideas.

So good luck with midterms, Happy Friday, and I’ll leave you with the “Goodbye Song” from “Out of the Box”:

While writing this post, I probably listened to the intro song about a dozen times (give or take a few).