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BEACON Senior News - Western Colorado

Origami in everyday life

Feb 25, 2022 11:45AM ● By Jan Weeks

Origami is a centuries-old Japanese art form that involves folding paper into intricate shapes. Local artist Dawn Morrow taught herself to fold and now it keeps her busy. 

She shared the true story of Sadako Sasaki, a Japanese girl who contracted leukemia from the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. In an attempt to persuade the gods to make her well, she pledged to fold a thousand paper cranes, but she passed away before she met that goal.

“I’ve gone way beyond that,” said Morrow, who’s made closer to 30,000 origami cranes.” 

That feat isn’t unreasonable since she’s been folding for more than 25 years.

Origami played a large part in her wedding. Morrow met concert pianist Doug Morrow online, in the days of chat room infancy. They seemed to have a lot in common, and he drove from his home in Cedaredge to meet her. The relationship blossomed between the two artistic people. While dating, the paper strips used in restaurants to bundle silverware and napkins gave her an opportunity to keep her hands busy while chatting with Doug, so she began folding cranes. 

Unbeknownst to her, Doug saved all of them. She kept on folding during their year-long courtship, and when they set a wedding date, they decided to bring a thousand cranes and string them to display at the reception. However, things didn’t go according to plan, and the bags of cranes never got strung. 

Friends who knew of the plan decided the cranes shouldn’t go to waste, so when the newlyweds came out to start their married life together, they found the car filled with paper cranes. 

“We found cranes for a year afterward, between the seats, in the ashtray, under the seats,” said Morrow.


Morrow worked as a certified nursing assistant, medical records secretary, and ward secretary in long-term care facilities for almost 30 years, until COVID sidelined her last November. That, along with her rare lung disease and a permanent back injury, required her to quit her job and to be on oxygen 24 hours a day. Now she spends time at home crafting origami pieces, creating macrame wall hangings, and painting with acrylics, among many other crafts. 

One of her most impressive creations, she said, was a 2-foot by 3-foot Christmas tree made of origami cranes. 

“I attached the cranes to a floral foam cone and wrapped it in Christmas lights. Then I folded translucent paper cranes that I put over the lights so they glowed,” she said. 

The piece sold quickly.

One of the things she likes to do is fold bills into shapes as tips for servers. She also attaches origami pieces to canvases and fine strings to make designs. Hearts are a recurring theme in all her art.

She said origami occurs in daily life. Think paper airplanes and those fancy napkins shaped into fans, swans, and even neckties in fine restaurants. 

How to make an origami crane

In Japanese lore, cranes were thought to live for 1,000 years. These special migratory birds symbolize health and long life and are believed to bring luck and good fortune. Below are the directions so you can make your own!

For best results, Morrow offers a few tips:

Be precise when folding

Morrow stressed that the crease must be exact. Folding a crane, she demonstrated how she uses her fingernails to make sure the crease stays. Each piece requires multiple folding and unfolding to make the final piece. 

Use the right paper

Since so much emphasis is placed on folding, you’ll want to use paper that’s easy to work with. Morrow suggests buying special paper that’s used specially for origami. She described it as thicker than tissue paper and thinner than copy paper. 

Typically, she orders it online or stocks up when she goes to Denver. Locally, her go-to shop is Clubb’s Variety Store in Delta. Sometimes you can find it at Michael’s and Hobby Lobby, although the selection is often limited. 

Continue to learn origami

Since the art has evolved over centuries, there are tons of designs that you can try. Morrow suggested checking books out of the library, where she teaches classes in artistic folding.

Art classes from Morrow

Up there with origami, photography is another one of Morrow’s passions. She is also the president of the Thunder Mountain Camera Club. 

To view Morrow’s art, visit To contact her, email [email protected].

Watch this video demonstration of Dawn Morrow folding an origami crane.

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