Making an Origami Crane Mobile with Awagami Inkjet Paper- Jacqueline (JQ) Gaines


Completed Inkjet Crane Mobile

Like most children in the western world, I learned about the art of paper folding (Origami) from making the famous Fortune Teller” on the school playground. I clearly remember spending most of my recess time folding these and then running after my friends asking them if they wanted their fortune told. Nothing could be more fun for an 8 year old than having the ability to predict the future! My friends and I would seize every possible minute to ask each other the same three questions: “What number do you want?” “Pick another number?” “Okay, what color do you want?”  Then after loudly counting out the numbers given, we would quickly peel back the paper fold to unveil what the future held for us—jumping up and down with delight when we were promised that a wish would come true—or moaning and groaning when we were informed that a special someone would fall in love with us. As the school year progressed, some kids went on to learn how to make paper cups, triangle footballs, or maybe even water-bombs. But there were only a few children in our school who gravitated towards true Origami — making animals and flowers such as cranes, tulips, and butterflies.

I happened to be one of those children, but my folding techniques never moved past the simple basics. I knew absolutely nothing about Origami.  I didn’t know that the word “Origami” came from the Japanese words Oru (to fold) and Kami (paper).  I didn’t know that Origami held an important and respected position in Japanese culture since the Edo Period (1603-1868). I had never even heard of the Edo Period.  And I certainly didn’t know anything about Akira Yoshizawa—the Origami Master who introduced the technique of wet folding to modern artists—giving them the freedom to create strong sculptural forms with thick paper. I didn’t even know that it was because of Akira Yoshizawa’s deep passion and love of sharing that we, the children in the west, got to enjoy the playground game of fortune telling.

But as quickly as I fell in love with Origami, I also fell out of love with it. I started to focus my creative energy in drawing, painting, and the fiber arts. It had been many decades since I have even thought of, let alone made, a paper crane or a little box.

One day while cleaning out my studio I happened to stumble across a box of ink-jet prints that I had accumulated over the past few years. Most of them had some small damage such as ink stains, bent corners, torn edges, etc. There were some that were absolutely perfect—they were only printed by mistake in a project run. Although each print had something ‘wrong’ with it, the common thread between them all was that they were too good to be thrown away. And that’s when the thought hit me: what if I folded one of those prints into a small origami box?

It’s no exaggeration when I say that it took only folding one print to get me hooked. From that day onward, I have made it a daily discipline to learn the art of paper folding. With each piece that I fold, I see another possibility making itself evident. I’ve lost count as to how many origami pieces I’ve made, some from traditional Japanese patterns and others from patterns that I’ve adapted. Some days it doesn’t even matter what I make, I just want to spend some time sitting and reflecting on the creases and folds. It’s become my daily meditation.

It’s even influenced my photography, because now whenever I’m out on a shoot, not only am I concerned with the lighting, composition and subject matter, I also find myself thinking about how the printed image will look when its folded into a three dimensional object. There’s no question about it, revisiting the beautiful art of Origami has opened up a whole new way of seeing for me.

Origami Crane Mobile Tutorial using Awagami Factory Inkjet Paper

The beauty of this project is that each mobile with be an original creation because you will be using your own photographs. Here are the list of the materials and instructions.

Materials Needed

1. Three inkjet prints — one in each of the following sizes:




Grafitti photographs © JQ Gaines

Grafitti photographs © JQ Gaines

The graffiti street art photographs shown here were made with an iPhone 4s, using either the Hipstamatic or VSCOcam app. They were printed with an Epson Stylus Photo 1400. For excellent quality prints, I recommend using Awagami Inkjet Paper. Kozo Thick is good for the larger print size and Kozo Thin or Unryu works beautifully for the smaller sizes.

2. Variety of seed beads. I used size 11/0 for the black and red beads and size 6/0 for the gold beads.

3. Three round flat shell beads.

4. Waxed linen or beading thread

5. Sewing/beading needle

6. Gold metal ring

7. Tassel


Materials needed to construct the Crane Mobile

Step 1


One of the cranes, ready to add to the mobile.

Fold each of the inkjet prints into a crane. (See the Origami Crane folding diagram)


Origami Crane folding Diagram

Step 2

Assembling the crane mobile.

It’s important that you work from the bottom of the mobile, upwards. Attach your needle and thread through the middle of the tassel, coming up through the tassel head. Once your needle is in position begin stringing the following beads:

1 gold seed bead
1 round flat shell bead
3 gold seed beads
5 black seed beads
3 red seed beads
5 black seed beads
1 gold seed bead

You are now ready to attach the large crane. (6” x 6”) Please note that the gold bead will serve as a stopper so that the crane will be held firmly in place while hanging in the upright position. To sew the crane on, insert your needle and thread into the middle bottom, coming out at the tip of the middle point in the body.

After you attach the crane begin the following beading pattern:

1 gold
5 black, 3 red, 5 black , 1 gold
5 black, 3 red, 5 black, 1 gold
1 round shell
1 gold
5 black, 3 red, 5 black, 1 gold
5 black, 3 red, 5 black, 1 gold
1 crane

Repeat the pattern above until you attach the final crane. Then string on:

1 gold, 5 black, 3 red, 5 black, 1 gold
5 black, 3 red, 5 black, 3 gold

You have now reached the end of your mobile. To attach the gold ring, use several half-stitch sewing stitches, ending with a double knot. Run the end of your thread back down through the three gold beads to hide the end and then cut the thread off.


Sewing and adding the first crane

















The Crane
One of the most popular Japanese legends is Senbazaru (one thousand origami paper cranes held together by strings). It is believed that anyone who folds a thousand origami cranes will be granted a wish by a crane.

It was Sadako Sasaki who popularized this legend worldwide. Sadako was a 12 year old girl who developed leukemia from the bombing in Hiroshima. Every day Sadako would fold paper cranes from her hospital bed in hopes of regaining her health. However, when she realized that she was not going to survive, she started writing “Peace” on the wings of each crane, wishing for world peace. Sadako completed 644 cranes before she died. Her friends and classmates were deeply moved by her efforts and wanted to make sure that her wishes were fulfilled. They worked together to complete the remaining cranes. They also wanted the world to acknowledge and remember her plight for world peace. On May 5, 1958 The Children’s Peace Monument in Hiroshima Peach Park was erected in Sadako’s honor. The plaque below it reads: This is our cry. This is our prayer. Peace in the world. To this day, every year, thousands of children visit, bringing their origami cranes as offerings of peace.


Resources and Inspiration

Awagami Inkjet Paper, available from Freestyle Photographic Supplies,

Origami USA,
Robert J. Lang,
Origami Spirit, website by Leyla Torres,
Origami Resource Center,
Sadako and The Thousand Paper Cranes by Eleanor Coerr, published by Puffin Modern Classics, (a young adult book).
Between The Folds, PBS documentary featuring 10 influential contemporary Origami artists,


Jacqueline (JQ) Gaines

JQGaineswebAfter studying Painting and Printmaking at Pratt Institute, Jacqueline (JQ) Gaines owned and operated a Textile Arts Studio in NYC. For 15 years her artistic focus was hand bound books. She also designed bobbin lace patterns and taught classes in traditional pillow lacemaking techniques.

About 5 years ago, her husband and children surprised her with an iPad and iPhone, insisting she was “too old fashioned” and needed to “get with the times.” These devices rekindled her passion for painting and introduced her to photography, opening up tremendous opportunities to combine these two art mediums digitally.

Since then, her work has been exhibited in galleries and shows throughout the U.S. and Europe. She is one of the featured contributing artists in the book, The Art of iPhone Photography edited by Bob Weil and Nicki Fitz-Gerald, published by Rocky Nook. See more of JC’s work at