1000 Cranes: How they are made / by RK

[日本語訳はこちらです]

Hi, I am Airi's sister Riho:)

I have been helping her out with her project 1000 Cranes for Ishinomaki: After the Tsunami.

I am proud to announce that Airi's project has reached 73 backers with $2,831 funding!

Thank you to those who have contributed, and to those who helped me spread the word about this project!

I currently live in Japan, so I'd never seen my sister make the cranes with my eyes yet.

The other day, I had the chance to help her make the paper and cranes, so I decided to share with everyone the process of making 1000 cranes!

STEP1: Prepping the paper

This is the lab where she makes the paper.

First, she mixes two chemicals together: potassium ferricyanide and ferric ammonium citrate.

I have no idea what they are, but when I saw 'cyanide', I asked my sister if it was dangerous.

The only thing she told me was "be careful." I felt like I was in a James Bond movie.

She coated the chemical mixture on to the tracing paper.

I guess this tracing paper is something special, too.

She said she looked all over for tracing paper that won't rip when it gets wet.

"Lots of trial and error, my friend," said Airi.

After she's done coating them, she lets the paper dry in a drawer. (Sorry, I forgot what it was called.)

She neatly placed each piece of paper and we waited for about 10 minutes for them to dry.

STEP 2: Feathers

While we waited for the paper to dry, we prepared for the 'printing' process.

She took out what looked like a photo frame, and started laying out feathers inside the frame.

Over the feathers, she placed the paper covered in chemicals.

The paper looks light yellow right now, but do not worry, my friends.

Feathers and paper framed together.

One frame fits 4 to 25 pieces of paper, depending on the size.

They are pretty heavy. I could only carry two, but Airi's learned to carry all four at the same time. Superwoman.

STEP 3: Sun Exposure

Now the magical part begins!

She took the frames outside so she could expose the paper to sunlight.

The sun changes the yellowish color to blue.

A few minutes after the sun exposure. Notice how the color has changed already! Arizona sun helps:)

10 minutes later. They are almost ready!

She knows when they are ready when the green tint goes away.

The darkness of the blue color depends on how much sun it was exposed to.

Done exposing after 30 minutes!

Notice where the feathers covered the paper is still yellow.

That's because they weren't exposed to light.

Now time to get wet and wild!

STEP 4: Washing and More Chemical

First she washes off the chemicals with clean water.

This will get the yellow out of the paper.

She washes them and changes the water over and over until the paper no longer has the yellow color.

Then in the other tray, she pours hydrogen peroxide to oxidize the paper.

This gives the paper that beautiful navy color.

Now you can really see the pretty feather prints!

Then more washing!

She washes them gently but surely, to make sure all the chemicals are washed off.

STEP 5: Drying

The hot and steamy step begins.

She places each piece of paper neatly on to a cardboard paper.

It's important to make sure they are still moist and all nice and flat, because if you don't then you will get a wrinkly paper.

Then she covers it with another cardboard paper and inserts it into a heat press.

Heat press is like a sandwich toaster. It gets pretty hot.

When she presses it down, you could hear it sizzle.

After 10 minutes, the paper is nice and crispy.

The time is important. You don't want the paper to get burnt.

Done making the paper!

When I asked my sister why she couldn't just make one paper and just photo copy the rest, she told me that she decided to make her this way for a reason.

She said she wanted to put in her time and effort in each piece of paper, because the paper and the crane represent one of her objectives of the project.

The color of the paper represents the ocean of Ishinomaki; She said that this is for the remembrance of what happened on March 11, 2011.

The blue color also represents the sky of Ishinomaki; She wants the prayers to sent to the sky with the help of the cranes.

Like in the Japanese ancient legend, she hopes that these cranes will help Ishinomaki and the people there recover from the traumatic disaster.

STEP 6: Trimming & Folding

Before we start folding, we have to make sure that the paper is a square.

The tracing paper shrinks from the chemicals and heat, so we have to make adjustments.

I fold it into a triangle to see where I need to trim.

Then I cut off the extra edges off.

Sometimes you have to use scissors to make little adjustments.

Then we start folding!

Here's a video of how she folds them: [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IRUdBR2Sl78]

Airi has been doing this for a while, and she could fold one in less than a minute and 50 seconds! Impressive.

It took me close to three minutes to fold one crane. I need to practice more.

So there you go!

These are the steps of making her cranes.

Honestly, I didn't know that it was such a time consuming process!

But now you know, that each cranes you receive will be full of thoughts and prayers:)

Hope everyone enjoyed this!