There’s more than one reason why Caleb Kennel has a goal of making 1,000 origami crane earrings.
One of those reasons is he’s good at it. A shelf in his Rochester home displays all the ways he’s been able to contort dollar bills: a squirrel, a dog, a snake, a goose and so on.
But it goes beyond that for the 12-year-old.
“The crane, for years, has kind of been a symbol of hope and peace and faith,” he said. “So when people wear these earrings, I want them to still have hope and faith even though there’s a pandemic going on.”
Caleb has also found a way to use his talent to help the community. With the profits from his earrings, he’s been able to donate $1,000 to the local farmers market, which in turn is donating the funds to organizations that need to buy produce, such as the Dodge County Food Shelf.
The Rochester Art Center is also able to keep the profits from the earrings it sells, and the Rochester Tennis Connection puts the money it raises from the sale of the earrings toward its courts.
It takes Caleb a little under three minutes to fold an origami crane. Last winter, a family friend began helping turn the paper cranes into actual earrings. They recently hit 200 pairs.
The 1,000-pair goal is a nod to history.
While speaking about their project, Caleb and his mom, Betty, described the story of Sadako Sasaki, who was a little girl at the time of the bombing of Hiroshima in World War II. When she became sick, she started the process of folding 1,000 origami cranes.
According to Japanese legend, anyone who makes 1,000 origami cranes will have their wish granted.
Before the pandemic began, Betty wore a pair of the earrings to Fiddlehead Coffee. Coffee shop staff said they would sell the earrings for the Kennels if they wanted to, which helped launch the idea.
Once the pandemic reached the area, Caleb decided to use the project to help others.
“We’d been experimenting before the pandemic,” he said. “There’s a lot of hurt going around, so we decided to use our gifts and abilities to make these to help other people.”
Caleb and his mom use the Instagram account @origami_by_caleb to showcase his creations and give updates about their project.
He's still experimenting with the art form, too.
"Right now, we're looking to expand the jewelry," Caleb said. "We're kind of experimenting and looking toward other things ... expanding our horizons."