Handmade Ornament: Make a Flying Paper Crane out of Junk Mail

Handmade Ornament: Flying Paper CraneDo you do a Christmas tree? What I love about a handmade ornament is that it can look just as pretty hanging in a window or from a mantle as it does nestled in a tree.

I used to make these flying paper crane ornaments to sell years ago, and they were always a hit at craft markets. Paper cranes are lucky, and there’s a legend that if you can fold 1000 paper cranes, you can live forever. The crane is a symbol of joy, luck, and long life, which I think makes it perfect for the Christmas tree or even as a holiday gift.

These ornaments are simple to make, and if you’re planning to do a big batch of them, I’d suggest folding all of the cranes first, then stringing them all. Once you fold a few cranes, you’ll start to get the hang of the process, and I used to love my marathon crane-folding sessions! It was almost like meditation. You can turn off your brain and let your fingers fly.

For my crane, I used a credit card offer that had some of that security printing on the back, but you can choose any junk mail you like! Printed materials look cool all folded up, and catalog pages are lovely for adding a pop of color. Have fun with it!

flying paper crane ornamentMaterials

  • Junk mail – any size will work. The bigger the paper, the bigger your crane will be. Choose paper that’s not too wrinkled, though as you’ll see the paper I used had a little wrinkling and everything turned out a-OK!
  • Bead or vintage button – I used a huge button for my crane, but you can use anything with a hole large enough to a piece of embroidery thread through.
  • Embroidery thread and needle – Choose a forest green thread if you want it to blend with your tree. I chose red so you could see what was going on in the photos.
  • Scissors
  • Ornament hook or paperclip

Directions

1. Origami paper is a perfect square, so you need to make a square out of your piece of junk mail. To do this without any measuring, take your paper, and fold the top left corner down and to the right, until the top of the paper is flush with the right side, then trim off the excess like this:

folded paper

2. Fold your crane! This tutorial has some of the clearest directions I’ve ever seen for folding a crane. Take your time with this one! Also, be mindful of which side you want to use as your crane’s outside – the directions show you how to position the paper so you get the print you want outside.

3. You’re ready to string! First, string the bead or button onto your embroidery thread, then bring both ends of the thread together and put them both through the needle. Then push the needle through the bottom of your crane – when you flip him over, you’ll see a small hole in the bottom from the folded paper. Push the needle all the way through the crane’s back, being careful to pierce the center of the back, so it will hang straight.

stringing your paper crane ornament

4. Tie a the ends of your thread into a loop, add an ornament hook or paper clip to hang, and let that sucker fly on your tree!

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