Attack of the Cranes

So, I work at an office. A large cubicle farm that requires a map to get around.

No, really. I have the floorplan of the building in my internet bookmarks just so I can find other people’s desks. It’s loosely based on a grid system, but the building is broken up into different sections so it ruins the effect.

Should you care, I’m somewhere around P-20 (I think).

Anyway, the point is that the whole place is rather gray. And I haven’t been at my desk long enough to generate the amount of paper clutter (post-it notes on the walls, photos of kids, certificates for years spent with the company, etc) that makes it feel lively and lived-in.

What I do have, however, are paper cranes. A lot of them.

You see, when I focus really hard on a problem, or I get bored, or I get distracted, or I become frustrated, (or any reason, really) I start folding paper cranes. It gives me something to do with my hands, sort of like twiddling your thumbs or knitting.

I first learned how in elementary school in conjunction with reading the book “Sawako and the Thousand Paper Cranes” for class. Then I forgot how for a few years until I hit Junior High and was a volunteer at the local art museum. We taught visitors how to fold cranes (can’t remember why), and I pretty much had the process memorized after that.

The nice thing about origami, is that all you need is some scraps of paper to make it work. And, let me tell you, at the office, there are a lot of scraps of paper. My favorite are used sticky notes, but I usually use the standard printer paper (after it’s already finished a useful purpose). Think of this as my version of recycling. Each standard size sticky note becomes four paper cranes. From an 8 1/2″ by 11″, I can get (wait for it – give me a second to calculate this) 64 PAPER CRANES.

Have I mentioned that I make my cranes really small? Really, really small? I’ve been making them for so long that the only way they keep me entertained anymore is to make them in miniature.

A selection of my cranes, with a shiny new penny for size reference.

A selection of my cranes, with a shiny new penny for size reference.

Also, I make a lot of them. I can make 40+ a day (actual amount created is usually in inverse proportion to how productive I was in the office. Take the cause and effect however you will). I’ve been keeping track, and since I’ve started working this year, I’ve made almost a thousand of them.

The paper crane collection made during the last year of college.

The paper cranes made during the last year of college. I think it totals about 360 or so. Slow year, I guess.

It’s kind of annoying actually, I’m running out of mugs to store them in. I keep having to empty them into ziplocks and hide them in the bottom of my drawers. I’m really not sure what to do with them. I keep thinking I’ll run a thread through them and string them up in bunches of a hundred, but that almost seems like more work than it took to fold all of them.

Anyway, the point of this is, that I have an interesting office habit. I think my supervisor is still trying to wrap his brain around the concept of origami (that I’m making all of these out a single piece of paper each without any cutting). It’s just something to amuse me since I don’t listen to music or use a stress ball or anything.

Also: I apologize for the picture quality. The battery charger for my camera is hiding somewhere in the one moving box I haven’t unpacked. These were done with my (dumb) cellphone.


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