This month’s DIY has been a long time in the making. I’ve wanted to make display of hanging origami paper cranes in my office for months. I am a huge fan of paper cranes and have in the past made 1000 paper crane chains for good luck. In the last few years I have given away most my chains and made a few new ones for friends but I have always kept a few of the unchained cranes so I thought I’d make a display piece on my living room ceiling with the remaining. I was inspired by the paper crane displays that are popular at weddings but wanted to make a permanent installation of them. I like a much cleaner look of having single strands but single strands would also mean a ton of holes in my apartment’s ceiling so I’m making paper crane mobiles to reduce that but still get the look of single lines. These paper crane mobiles look great on their own, in pairs, and all over like mine – it’s a really easy project – just needs patience and time!
- Origami paper
*large, medium or small squares
- Wooden circle dowels
- Thread/Fishing wire/String
- Craft glue
- Push pins or wall hooks
$10 for materials minus the cranes
For the cranes depending on the amount, variety and the quality of paper roughly around $10-$20
- Make all your paper cranes. Great thing to mix it up is having various patterns, colours and sizes. I have a tutorial on how to make them here!
*I ended up making new paper cranes in various sizes as well as using ones I’ve been hording for the last 5 years. I do have a lot of variety of paper, my pro tip is buy paper from your local Chinatown and make sure you get double sided paper. Low quality origami paper is super frustrating and if you are making a lot you will not enjoy the process.
- Plan out how you want the canes to look overall. Basic decisions to make are: Multiple cranes per thread? Different lengths? Different colors, and sizes of cranes? Lots or a few? Single dowel or mobile? Color coordinated or random cranes? How many dowels? Invisible thread, or colors?
*this is just for getting the right amount of supplies and cranes needed and having a bit of light game plan. Since this project is very open ended, I can’t really say how many of each you’ll need. For the thread I just bought at a local art store for 69 cents each and they had around 50 various shades which is prefect for finding the exact color you want.
- Paint your dowels and leave to dry overnight.
*this is easiest option if you prefer not see the wood, I have a more time consuming option instead that I prefer below Step 6.
- Using the thread and needle you will want to make enough chains to start you off.
*there are many ways to make paper crane chains, here is a video I made of how I like to do mine.
- Grab 1 dowel and decide which chains you want to use and tie them loosely to the dowel leaving extra string to wrap around the dowel at least twice. Tie them loosely so you can change you mind and play around with the overall look and remember if you don’t have a chain that fits you can always make another.
- Now that you have a complete dowel with the heights, color and amount of cranes you want, you will want to wrap the thread at the top of each chain over the dowel and glue the end using a craft glue.
Optional: For a really polished look instead of painting the dowels use a whole bundle of thread. (it will take almost a whole bundle of thread so I bought a cheap pack of 20 various colored thread for $3).
I have a quick video of me doing it as it’s hard to explain:
- If you aren’t doing the above wrap technique to hang the dowel without having to worry about balance you will want to create a ‘handle’. Tie a piece of thread to each side and then wrap the ends of the thread around the dowel and glue the ends to make secure.
*you can create a proper mobile with multiple dowels, this is a great example!
- Hang the mobile(s) on the ceiling / wall with either push pin, nail or a hook.
Optional: For an extra splash if you don’t mind too many holes in the ceiling, add some chains directly from the ceiling to flesh out any gaps.
Having a Closer Look
I am in love with my hanging origami paper crane display, it adds to much light to my living room. I just loved color coordinating it and deciding where each mobile was going to go. In total I have 16 mobiles and about 10 single chains (and a box of left over cranes still). Originally I was going to hang above my office desk but I’m glad I change the location to on top of my couch. It just adds so much to that corner of my living room where I didn’t have much going on. It’s fun a night too because they start to make shadows on the couch and floor. It’s just a really simple way to add some magic to an area of your house and don’t worry if you don’t have room to go crazy like me, these chains look great just on their own.