Ashley Hodges is an artist and started folding paper cranes as a lark, really.
Something appeals to her about that particular origami shape, and she loves the calming, almost meditative effect of the practice, she said.
So much so that she decided to fold hundreds of them, in a rainbow of colors, which eventually became the base material for a dramatic paper crane chandelier in her dining room.
“I’d heard that folding 1,000 paper cranes brings good luck,” Hodges said.
Luck aside, she knows the birds make people happy.
“I started folding them and leaving them for people. It’s hard not to smile when you get one of these,” she said. “And it makes me feel just as good to give them.”
When she heard about Woman’s Hospital’s Bust Breast Cancer Fashion Show fundraiser, where artists decorate bras for a runway show to raise money for Woman’s, she decided to create a paper crane bra.
The piece now hangs on the wall at Woman’s Hospital.
After the show, the origami piece caught the attention of the team trying to come up with a way to represent 3-D mammography for Woman’s billboard campaign to promote the service.
The 3-D mammography gives doctors a clearer picture of the breast when checking for abnormalities in the tissue, said Dana Michell, of Woman’s Hospital.
“It’s a perfect representation, if you think about it — from a flat piece of paper to a three-dimensional crane,” Michell said.
Now the paper crane billboards, showing one of the cranes partially emerging from the flat sign, advertise the service all over the city.
“The idea took on a life of its own, I guess,” Hodges said, adding that patients and families waiting in the lobby areas are now able to fold their own paper cranes while they wait.
Stations providing square sheets of pink paper, along with instruction sheets for three different origami projects, are spread out among the magazines at the hospital.
Hodges calls it “art therapy,” but it’s a gift that keeps on giving, even if it gives nothing more than a smile.
“To me, they represent happiness. And if it’s true that folding 1,000 cranes brings good luck, I’ll have more than my share. I’ve folded 1,000 many times over.”