Hard to even tell what these are, eh? Let me pull back a little more...
There we go - now you can see that they are folded cranes, or orizuru in Japanese (oru means to fold, zuru or tsuru means crane). This is a traditional Japanese origami (folded paper) design that has become easily recognizable to many around the world, is probably the most popular design that people learn to make. Although I was born here in Montreal, I learned to fold this when I was pretty young - don't even remember exactly when!
The crane represents a lot of good things in Japanese culture: peace, fidelity (cranes mate for life) and honour. In Japanese mythology it is thought that the crane lived for 1000 years; if you fold 1000 cranes you will be granted a wish, hence the custom of folding 1000 cranes prior to a wedding to ensure a happy marriage. For more info about origami, see here and here.
None of the cards I make have any text in them; having a bilingual customer base here in Montreal means I would have to make both English and French cards - with blank cards language doesn't matter, but this way I really feel that the image on the card (in the case of my stamped cards), or the folded design has to express some kind of heart-felt sentiment.
These orizuru cards work perfectly for wedding and get well wishes, as well as for birthdays, anniversaries, Mother's and Father's Day. They are lovely to send to a friend who is feeling down, or even to someone mourning a loss - I like to think of the crane as a messenger of hope of sorts.
The folded crane is also strung with silver or gold thread so that the recipient can hang it as a decoration and remember that someone is thinking of them.
The second part of the card is where the giver writes their message; this is made of two pieces of paper folded into a pocket in which the crane sits, to keep the message hidden until it's opened.