I recently stumbled onto the Instagram account of Cristian Marianciuc and he’s been working on a pretty amazing project called Icarus.mid.air.

For the past almost three years he’s been folding one paper crane per day and decorating each one in a very unique way.

He just finished his 1,000th crane and every one is a unique work of art.

I asked Cristian to tell me a little bit about his project and he sent me this:

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I started my project on the 1st of January 2015. But towards the end of 2014, I had developed a habit of writing messages and then folding them into cranes: either for myself or to give to people close to me.

Paper Crane
Image source: https://www.instagram.com/p/BZ1eCANhAWv/

In a way, that’s how the idea of a visual diary materialized. The plan was to keep track of the passing of time, each day, in the shape of a decorated origami crane – each crane would describe in a creative way the type of day I was having.

The traditional crane model has a very special place in my heart. It holds such powerful symbolism, it is probably one of the first things people learn how to fold, but it also has become a symbol of peace.

Crane #356
Crane #356 – Image Source: https://www.instagram.com/p/_mIzHcvdMs/

The story of Sadako Sasaki left a profound mark on me, seeing how I also lost one of my sisters to leukaemia.

So, the crane embodies a few concepts that are dear to me: peace, serenity, simplicity but also creativity, and the idea of flight.

I have never studied art other than in high school. And even then, origami did not catch my interest in any particular way.

Crane #315
Crane #315 – Image Source: https://www.instagram.com/p/98j23zPdLN/

My professional background is in languages – interpreting and translations and diplomacy. But I have always had a keen sense of creativity and always enjoyed creating things.

A simple crane only takes a minute to fold. But throughout my project, I had days when I spent anything from 30 minutes to 7-8 hours on one crane design. I usually lose track of time once I get started. And 99% of the time, I listen to music while I work.

Crane #972
Crane #972 – Image Source: https://www.instagram.com/p/BYYJwmgDahy/

Anyone who has given origami a try can attest to the fact that it is incredibly therapeutic and it helps clear your mind. I usually let my mind and heart dictate what my hands should do. It is quite an organic dynamic.

Once I have a clear idea of what I want to create, I go ahead and do my best to accomplish that particular vision.

Crane #365
Crane #365 – Image Source: https://www.instagram.com/p/_87Hh1vdB4/

One of the ideas behind my project was to rediscover excitement and beauty in every little thing around me. So, I take inspiration from day to day things, such as the weather, or nature to more unlikely places – disappointment, boredom, decay and even death.

Crane #800
Crane #800 – Image Source: https://www.instagram.com/p/BReLeCcjZ8h/

There were days when I struggled with what I was creating, not so much because I ran out of ideas, but more so because I was thinking too much about what I was doing, I was attempting to be too rational. I found that I work best when I respond to spontaneity and when I don’t put too much thought into what I create.

Crane #860
Crane #860 – Image Source: https://www.instagram.com/p/BT3jhI-DMeO/

Initially, I wanted to be less open about my personal life. I had not planned on sharing so much about my daily experiences. I had envisaged only giving each crane a cryptic name and leaving it at that.

But gradually, and organically, I started talking about how I saw the world around me, my sources of joy and of sadness, my struggles, my travels and my hopes for the future.

Crane #988
Crane #988 – Image Source: https://www.instagram.com/p/BZBa53XDKln/

Adding the “song of the day” occurred later in the project, as a way of giving my cranes even more layers of symbolism.

There were some things I knew I would have to face in terms of finding the motivation to create something daily, but then there were other things, things which surprised me. And by that I mean having to keep a promise to myself to not give up, to show determination and discipline.

Crane #798
Crane #798 – Image Source: https://www.instagram.com/p/BRYPoPzjfjD/

I had a very romantic view of art, I was it as something that simply happens. But even art requires hard work and discipline. I had to learn that. I had days when I was very close to giving it all up, but eventually, before the 24 hours passed, I found the necessary motivation to keep going.

Crane #665
Crane #665 – Image Source: https://www.instagram.com/p/BMBvXachCFN/

I made sure to always put aside a bit of time to create a crane every single day, and that is not easy when a project, such as mine, goes on for almost three full years.

As I already mentioned, I have experienced this feeling of wanting to stop, or of wanting to take a break. But the longer the project went on, the more important the act of creating something every single day became.

Crane #985
Crane #985 – Image Source: https://www.instagram.com/p/BY6Bj8cDvRb/

It had become almost like a ritual. I would pay attention to little things throughout the day, in case I came across something that would inspire me. I became much more aware of the environment around me, and nature especially became much more intriguing and beautiful.

While this project was happening, I was working full time, so I had to be careful about planning my days.

Crane #375
Crane #375 – Image Source: https://www.instagram.com/p/BAW9UadPdGz/

There were the holidays too when I was afraid I would get too distracted to continue folding and decorating cranes. But I am happy to look back and see that I kept to it and fulfilled my plan of not missing even one day!

Crane #916
Crane #916 – Image Source: https://www.instagram.com/p/BWIzRNzDPFt/

The reactions to the project have been overwhelmingly positive. This was meant to be an obscure, intimate visual diary, but people seem to have related to it profoundly and thus the current following and the different ramifications of the project into an Etsy shop and collaborations.

Crane #344
Crane #344 – Image Source: https://www.instagram.com/p/_GqqyLPdIU/

It still feels surreal that the 1000 days have passed. I think that is one of the reasons I have not symbolically made the wish I am “entitled” for now. I feel that if or when I do, it will feel like somewhat of a closure. So I am postponing it for as long as I can. 

The daily part of Icarus.mid.air may be over for now, but I will keep creating cranes and other paper art and sharing them with the world.

Crane #290
Crane #290 – Image source: https://www.instagram.com/p/88LGdYPdOm/

2018 will be the year of collaborations for me, and there are some incredibly exciting mini-series up ahead that I cannot wait to share with everyone!

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To see the entire project and all 1,000 cranes check out Cristian’s Instagram page. Every one of the crane’s has a short little story that’s worth checking out.

He also has a Facebook page where you can follow his work as well.

If you really like the crane designs that you see here you’re in luck because Cristian has also set up an Esty store where some of these cranes are for sale.

There’s only one of each though so if you see one you like don’t wait too long to get it!

Icarus.mid.air might be over now but I’m definitely looking forward to seeing what Cristian has planned for 2018!