Woman finds therapy in creating 1,000 origami cranes

Jordan Spence
Alpena News

Presque Isle — There is one thing Dawn Rose learned from a project where she made 1,000 origami paper cranes in one year.

“The one thing I took home is, if it’s something you truly want to do, you will make the time for it,” Rose said. “Whether it’s volunteering, friends, exercise.”

The Alpena News reports Rose began the project at the end of December after a little bit of cabin fever set in.

Once they were completed, the cranes were placed on display at the Presque Isle District Library, Millersburg branch.

“I was looking for a project for my granddaughters,” she said. “I saw an origami 365-day calendar. I started playing around from that.”

As she continued to experiment with the origami, she thought to herself, “I need to keep doing this.”

“All the negativity from the campaign was really starting to get to me,” Rose said. “So I started to play around with 32 cranes.”

Rose then read a book called “Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes.”

In the book, a young girl in Japan contracts leukemia after the atomic bomb is dropped on the country.

Sadako then decides to fold 1,000 paper cranes in a year. People from all over Japan brought her paper to help finish the project.

Rose said there is a Japanese legend that said if someone makes 1,000 cranes in a year a wish will be granted. It is also supposed to teach dedication and focus.

Because of Sadako’s story, Rose decided to make the 1,000 cranes in one year from paper she didn’t buy directly. The cranes are made from many different paper items. They are made of gum wrappers, food labels, maps, lotto tickets, scratch off tickets, letters Rose never sent — and more.

There are also cranes with deeper personal meanings.

“I had a friend, Bob Mawn, who died and I used his obituary,” Rose said. “He loved birds and so I put his obit on the wing of the crane so you can see his name and birthdate.”

To fold the cranes Rose never used utensils, only her hands. The hardest material to fold was a piece of gold tinfoil given to her from a friend. She said it was an unforgiving material.

“(When) I set out to make the cranes I figured I would set the goal of three cranes a day — which quickly dissolved; summer is busy,” she said. “However, it’s meditative and relaxing. I often would call my mother and talk to her while I made cranes. As the project grew people asked me questions and brought me paper.”

Library clerk Maria Lefebvre said the installation has been a popular sight at the library.

“I think they’re (people) in awe, really,” Lefebvre said. “It amazes them.”

She said as she heard Rose talk about the project she can imagine how a whole string of cranes has a memory for Rose.

“This is kind of like a diary,” Rose said. “A diary of cranes.”

Rose has always had a deep interest in art and said when she is ready she has plans for all of the cranes.

“I’m going to use the cranes for an art project,” she said. “The birds will all be used as a garment for a statue of a woman. I will invite all the women I know over and we will then set that on fire.”