Wednesday, 11 June 2014

How To Waste Time Like A Pro: Making A Senbazuru

Difficulty - 3/5
Duration - 4/5

Hi everybody! Do you have something important to be doing? Would you rather do absolutely anything else other than said important thing? Are you looking for ideas of things to do that is not that important thing? How about this?

Senbazuru 1000 origami cranes umbrella hope kibo
Umbrella not included.
That is what we call a Senbazuru or, in layman's terms, a thousand origami cranes. Or, in layerer layman's terms: a completely pointless time sink. I had the fortune of being able to do this for my SSC (the thing that also involved watching lots of films; such hardship...) as a piece exploring illness and dying, so it actually counted as work! If you, dear reader, are interested in making your own Senbazuru, then I've prepared a handy guide for you to follow.

Let's start with a little history lesson, shall we? 

In October of 1955, in Japan, a 12 year old girl named Sadako Sasaki died from leukaemia caused by exposure to radiation from the Hiroshima atomic bomb in World War II. Before she died she endeavoured to fold a Senbazuru, since the legend goes that anyone who folds a thousand cranes will be granted a wish. She managed to finish her project (although some sources say she only managed to fold just over 600) before succumbing to her illness and dying. Of leukaemia. Caused by an atomic bomb. The tragicness of this story knows no bounds. Since Sadako's death, the Senbazuru has become famous worldwide and synonymous with illness, recovery and the final wishes of the dying, and is the reason why I chose to make it for my SSC. For you, you could simply make one for a loved one (they say they're popular as a wedding gift) or you could try wishing for a sixty foot long mecha-snake that shoots scorpions. Up to you.

First of all, it'll probably be useful if you learn how to do some origami. This handy YouTube tutorial is great for learning how to make a paper crane:


Ok, so you should now be a crane-making expert. Now we need to do that a thousand more times. You can buy special sets of 1000 sheets of origami paper for making Senbazurus from Amazon in a range of weird and wonderful colours to suit your tastes, or you could cut your own to size or use a thousand unwanted Tesco receipts. Up to you. Depending on how quickly you get through the cranes, you should be done all 1000 in a week (super fast) to a couple months (leisurely), so you've got to be sure that you're up for a pretty big undertaking; this isn't just a macaroni painting.

Senbazuru 1000 origami cranes
Do you even fold?
Pro tip: when folding your thousand cranes, count everything. All the time. And keep the completed cranes in a safe place like a drawer. It's way too easy to lose track of numbers so be sure to count out how much paper you're folding and how many cranes you've completed; there's nothing worse than finishing and finding out you've lost 17 cranes along the way. 983 cranes ain't a Senbazuru, it's a peasly prime of paper partridges. *wipes spit off the computer screen*

Next is the slightly more fun bit: threading. To do that you'll need these:

Senbazuru 1000 origami cranes equipment thread bamboo beads
You can get bamboo from your local garden centre or panda storage facility.
Any colour of thread and beads and any long, sturdy rod (ladies...) will do, but I went for red thread, black beads and bamboo for...well...reasons. You wouldn't get it, it's too deep and meaningful and wanky. So yes, the first thing you need to do is thread a bead onto your string and tie it on; this will stop the cranes from sliding straight off the end. Next, count out how many cranes you want on the thread (25 per thread makes 40 strands of reasonable length; any combination that fits nicely into 1000 will do though) and in the order you want them. Then do this:

Senbazuru 1000 origami cranes threading
In through the bottom, out through the top. Essentially, you're anally impaling a thousand paper birds.
Keep threading all of your cranes and lay out the finished strands nice and neat like so they don't tangle up.

Senbazuru 1000 origami cranes lined up
Can cranes goose step?
Then all that's left to do is tie the lengths of cranes on to your bamboo or other stick-like object and you're done, huzzah! That's a month's worth of work boiled down to 4 small paragraphs. If you want an added challenge you can try and use the cranes to make shapes and such; I put the Japanese characters 希望 (Kibō) for 'hope' in mine:


Senbazuru 1000 origami cranes umbrella finished hope kibo
I have waaaay too much spare time.
All in all I'm pretty chuffed with that. If you do happen to take my advice and make your own, I'd love to see it when it's done. Now I'd better get going, I've got resits to revise for; I wonder why I didn't pass...

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