"Do you use tweezers/tools to fold them?" is the #1 question I am most often asked. I don't when folding cranes. I can even fold the tiniest 1/2" squares into 1/4" high cranes by hand. I use tiny pieces of paper, my fingers, reading glasses and good light. I do use tweezers now to fold the origami frogs when the paper is smaller than a 1.5" square. You can read more questions & answers about folding miniature origami cranes on my blog at Tinygami.wordpress.com.
Why I fold origami cranes
The graceful beauty of the origami crane has made it one of the most beloved of the origami paper folds. Japanese folklore says that the crane lives for 1000 years. This is why the Japanese believe that folding 1000 cranes will bring good health and a long life, not only to the folder but to the recipient as well.
I was taught how to make origami cranes by my maternal grandmother who was one of the kindest women I have had the honor of knowing. She passed away when I was 10 years old but I have two very fond memories of her. One was that she used to go in our backyard and pick up bumble bees and let them crawl on her hands. She wasn't afraid. She encouraged me to pet their fuzzy little bodies while they were feeding on clover. I did, and never got stung. She had that kind of gentle spirit. I also remember the day she taught me how to make an paper crane with a sky blue piece of origami paper while sitting on the front porch on a warm summer day. She was a wonderful role model even though I only knew her for 10 short years. Origami is my most tangible connection to her. I love that folding tiny cranes is a way for me to honor her memory.
Another inspiration comes from the symbolic aspect of World peace and the story of Sadako Sasaki. Following the conclusion of the second World War, a 12-year-old girl named Sadako contracted leukemia as a result of the radiation poisoning she suffered when the atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima.
A friend and classmate of hers recalled the ancient legend that if a person folded 1000 origami cranes, the Gods would grant that person a single wish.
She taught Sadako how to make a crane and inspired her to fold 1000 so she could wish for her health back. Sadako's brother hung the cranes, some strands with many cranes and larger cranes by themselves, from the ceiling of her hospital room. Sadly, Sadako died before completing her thousand cranes. At the time she died, she had folded more then 500 cranes. Her classmates finished folding the rest, and the cranes were buried with her in 1955.
School children everywhere in Japan were so moved by her story that they created a memorial to her. Today in Hiroshima's Peace Park, there is a statue of Sadako. Standing atop a granite mountain of paradise, she holds in her outstretched hands a single golden origami crane, a symbol of peace. An inscription added by the children of Japan reads:
"This is our cry,
this is our prayer;
peace in the world."
Today thousands of cranes are laid beneath the dome of the statue. They are sent and brought by people from all around the world, touched by the story of Sadako. Each August 6th, thousands of cranes are placed at the base of the statue by the school children and people of Japan to commemorate Peace Day, during the annual Peace Festival in Japan.
I think the wish for peace encompasses all of the other things people wish for, peace for our bodies, minds and souls. As is so often the case in times of war, it is the story of a single child that crosses national boundaries and touches the world. My inspiration comes from the hope that someday we will all find peace within ourselves, and by doing so, will create peace in the world.