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Origami Cranes and Senbazuru

I was asked at my last show why origami cranes feature in my logo and in my jewellery, and whilst explaining the legend of the thousand origami cranes, I realised just how personal the use of cranes are in my pieces. I was born and spent my early life in Tokyo, Japan, where I learned origami. My favourite to fold was the crane, and to this day every time my hands are near bits of paper, I automatically start folding it into this bird. When I was younger, I learned of the one thousand crane legend, an Ancient Japanese legend that promises the granting of a wish upon anyone who folds one thousand paper cranes. I made it my duty to fold one thousand to be granted one wish, and set about my way. We lived in a small apartment in Shinjuku, and I recall being told off by my mother for the mess I left behind, bits of paper and mountains of folded cranes everywhere.

The one thousand paper crane legend, known as Senbazuru in Japan, has been interpreted over time to mean a number of things; aside from the granting of one wish, folding one thousand cranes is believed to bring eternal good luck and long life. This is because the crane is one of Japan’s mystical creatures and as such are believed to live one thousand years. This legend has transcended into modern society in a number of ways; it is traditional for example for fathers to gift their daughters one thousand paper cranes as a wedding gift to symbolise one thousand years of happiness and prosperity upon the couple. Senbazuru can also be given to a new baby to symbolise long life, and can even be hung in the home for good luck. Senbazuru is even prevalent in prayers for peace at temples, with their donation being exposed in the temples to the elements until they tatter and wither way as the wish for peace is released, similar to Tibetan prayer flags.

I started using origami cranes in my logo and in my jewellery as they are the first thing I think of when I think of Japan. As I use Japanese Akoya pearls in all of my pieces, I felt that pairing these up with such an iconic symbol of Japanese culture would be complimentary. Using the same logic, I also have a golden crane line in which I use cherry blosson (sakura) hand painted cloisonne beads instead of the pearls. All my crane pieces are made lovingly with either sterling silver, or gold vermeil (9 carat gold plated sterling silver).

I will be selling all variations of my origami crane pieces at my first Christmas fair for the season,  South Hill Park Craft and Design Fair, this weekend.

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