Sunday, April 22, 2018

Origami Cranes - Our Obsession

Good Day,

I have been asked how the “improvisational process plays out in the creation” of Andy’s and my work, specifically for our Cranes Project.

Here goes.

Our Cranes Project has been some time in the making.

A couple of years ago a Facebook connection was making Cranes quilt blocks, and I learned that he was making 1,000 Crane Blocks. I asked him about his idea and why did he feel inclined to make the 1,000 Cranes.

I had read about the young Japanese Hiroshima victim, Sadako Sasaki  and her challenge to herself about attempting to fold 1,000 Origami Cranes. The tale spins in different directions whether she survived her goal before she passed away from complications attributed to the nuclear explosion and sickness.

I also found out that 1,000 Origami Cranes had/has become a complimentary touch and decoration for weddings.

There is also a turn that one is seeking health, or one is seeking a new love. You get the picture.

I asked my FB friend why he was making his Cranes and whether I could borrow his idea. He would not tell me his reason until he completed his 1,000th Crane. He also mentioned that there were many thoughts and ideas on the Internet regarding paper-piecing Origami Cranes. He mentioned that it wasn't his idea, that I should be able to easily create a paper-piecing design from the work found on the Internet.

I then asked Andy if he was willing to, between quilt projects, to possibly create Crane paper-pieced blocks from leftover scraps. I told him that I had an idea of designing and creating, once we reached 1,000 Cranes, a possible series of Cranes Quilt panels that we could donate to a children's hospital.

Andy agreed. I created a pattern.

Andy began creating paper-pieced Crane blocks. Each individual paper-pieced Crane block took him approximately 3 hours to make. I calculated that at the 3-hour rate it would take approximately 125 24-hour days to complete the task. (You get the picture.)

At the time we were asked by a friend of ours, Melissa Helms, to design a quilt for the 25th Anniversary for a children's cancer society. It just so happens that this friend owns a quilt store in Tampa, Keep Me in Stitches, and she is one of the original founders of the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation. Also, at the time my son, Joel, who is a Banker with The Bank of Tampa was considering representing his bank with the cancer organization. It was kismet.

In my working and creating of the design of a new quilt, Hope Cures! (, Melissa introduced me to AccuQuilt. I designed a "flame" fabric die with AccuQuilt to be used as pieces to create the Foundation's sun logo.

Back to our Cranes.

When I saw that it was taking Andy 3 hours to create each individual Crane block, I put two and two together I designed a pattern to create a fabric die. I contacted AccuQuilt and worked with the associated designers to create a 6-inch and a 5-inch Crane.

The new Crane dies came. In our test run it took Andy about 30 minutes to create a Cranes block. Hurrah! Out went the paper-piecing.

I then came up with an idea about creating a series a Cranes quilts of various sizes to create an exhibition at a local church which has an auditorium in the shape of an octagon. We have done two combined shows there in the past few years. When I present my idea of a "circular" display of Cranes, displaying a spectrum of colors, the Curator and the Pastor of the church were thrilled with the idea. (Of course, I may have bitten of more than Andy or I could chew.

I contacted SewBatik, in North Dakota, and have been working with them at getting the correct batik colors to create the Cranes. Also our friend Kimberly Einmo has created a fabric line, Solid-ish! which we have incorporated into some of our Crane blocks and quilts. Apart from a current portfolio of  10 Cranes Quilts, I have also created 40 Cranes Quilt designs to be included in the Crane Spectrum.

But I didn't stop there. I then created a 3-inch and a 4-inch fabric AccuQuilt die. We now have 4 sizes of Crane die cutters - 3"; 4", 5", and 6". (I have approached AccuQuilt about my design, but they have not followed up, as yet, with me as to the possibility of creating an AccuQuilt line of Origami Cranes.)

While waiting for fabric delivery, I have created and designed a number of other Cranes Quilts, apart from the Cranes Rainbow Spectrum.

The UU of Clearwater has now set a showing venue of our Cranes Quilts portfolio for late 2018, early 2019. The total number of Cranes Quilts is now in the vicinity of 45+.

Also, a friend, Marijke van Welzen, of ours, who lives in The Netherlands asked if she could create a Cranes Quilt Coat. We sent several Cranes that we created with Kimberly Einmo's new fabric line, Solid-ish This will be included in our show. Another friend of ours Peg Green, from Sarasota, has also joined our Cranes group. And a third Madhu Mathur in India will join our small group. We cannot wait to see their compositions.

All our Cranes Quilts will be colored Cranes on a white background. We have also created one Cranes Quilt that is white-on-white, WOW! I have created a number of new Cranes Quilts, inspired by ideas, at times just placing Cranes on a table in front of me and letting them “flock together” in a manner that may be attributed to a piece of music or photograph or spark of an idea. Some have been inspired by the works of other artists whom I have always contacted in order to ensure that that they are okay with our thought process and designs, at time preliminary. I am overwhelmed at the positive "go-aheads" I have received. Our portfolio will now include plus 1,500 Cranes.

And now it takes Andy about 15 minutes to create a Cranes block.

Oh yeah, and my FB friend who was creating the 1,000 Cranes, actually gave his Cranes blocks away to people who have touched his life over the years.

And to Linda Syverson and Sherri Lynn Wood, thank you for getting me to jot down a few thoughts regarding our Cranes’ Project.

Stay-tuned to our updates at our site, Quilts SB and on Facebook and Google+.


Jim and Andy


Deb Berkebile said...

Wow...Just WOW! I can't wait to see pictures of this exhibit!

Sue Helms said...

After reading your blog I am more emotional about your crane quilts and the purpose behind them. What a wonderful exhibit this will be. I look forward to seeing more and more pictures. Thank you for sharing.

Unknown said...

My grand daughter was bitten by a fer du lance snake in Belize...she miraculously survived but she suffered a stoke after going into cardiac arrest....she also suffered from enchepilitis ..a brain swell and deterioration of brain tissue...When she had to take a year off from school...and step down from becoming valedictorian...she was depressed...a group of kids in a special education class made her a box with a glass it they placed 1,000 folded cranes.

Romana said...

It´s a great idea! I´m looking forward to seeing some photos of your exhibition in 2019.