A Labor of Love: 1000 Paper Cranes Display

The Senbazuru, or the folding of 1000 paper cranes, is a traditional wedding practice that is believed to bring good luck to the newlywed couple.  It is known as a “labor of love”, as the bride and sometimes family members undertake the monumental task of folding each paper bird and reflect on the upcoming nuptials.  

When my sister finally set the date for her wedding, she asked me to make the display for her senbazuru.  She had found a few sites online that would arrange the pre-folded cranes (sent to the crafters by the bride) into a beautiful and highly detailed display, but they were extremely costly.  She then asked me to arrange them, as a wedding present to her and my future brother-in-law.  I was hesitant at first, but eventually I conceded.  Hey, why not?  How hard could it be?

I quickly realized I had underestimated the project and how much of a dumbass I really was for thinking I could finish the damn thing a week before the wedding.

From the moment my sister plopped the large paper bag full of the gold suckers down on my desk, thanked me, and walked out of my room, I felt overwhelmed with the project.  I didn’t even know where to start!  What had I gotten myself into?  

With only days before the wedding, I settled on a design and went straight to work.

I decided to use 2 kanji characters; love and good luck.  I chose kanji because the characters are written the same in both Chinese and Japanese, a token of respect to both sides of our heritage.  I enclosed each character in interlocking circles, to symbolize the marriage rings and the unbroken bond the rings represent.

After I sketched out my basic design, I printed out the characters, cut them, and glued them to the black cardboard which I had sized to a large, black shadow-box.  I was then ready to begin the arduous task of hot-gluing the birds to the paper.  I followed my outline and glued layer upon layer of birds on the design to add dimension and texture.

In total, I spent about 27 hours working on this project.  It was one of the most intensive and challenging crafts I have ever undertaken!

Working on this display, however, allowed me to do my own reflecting.  I was able to focus on all of the memorable experiences I had with my sister and the new memories we would both share with her new husband and family.  I was happy to give her this meaningful gift (from my raw, hot glue burned, paper cut hands).  Whenever I visit her and my new brother-in-law, I am happy to see my “labor of love” prominently displayed in their living room.

1000 Cranes


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