I recently rediscovered the charm of little paper flexagons, known in the cardmaking world as never-ending or infinity cards. I find it fascinating to unfold each page, revealing the card maker’s vision beneath, until I magically end up back where I started. Infinity cards also make an ideal mixed-media substrate. I use them to make infinity flips, tiny artworks to be touched and explored while you flip through the scenes, unfolding the secrets of a never-ending artistic story. I designed this three-inch infinity flip to celebrate the sun and warmth of spring.
- Cardstock or other stiff paper, gessoed on both sides and cut into two 3″ squares (I used a vintage file folder made from Bristol board.)
- Pencil and eraser
- Paper cutter, or a ruler and scissors or craft knife
- Scoring board and bone folder, or stylus and metal-edge ruler
- Washi tape or other low-tack tape
- Double-sided tape, strong (I used Scotch® Create Initially Repositionable Adhesive Squares.)
- Collage papers, thin, a selection
- Gel medium (I used Golden® Artist Colors Soft Gel Gloss.)
- Paintbrushes, acrylic
- Paint, acrylic (I used Golden fluid acrylic paint in Green Gold, Teal, Cadmium Red Medium Hue, and Titan Buff, Golden High Flow paint in Fluorescent Blue; along with Liquitex® Professional Soft Body acrylics in Yellow Medium Azo, Brilliant Yellow Green, and Light Portrait Pink.)
- Glazing liquid (I used Golden Acrylic Glazing Liquid (Satin).)
- Transfer paper
- Dip pen and India ink to add fine lines (I used Dr. Ph Martin’s Bombay India Ink in Brown.)
Create the flip base
1. Using a scoring board and bone folder or a stylus and metal-edge ruler, score one side of a 3″ cardstock square at ¾″ and 2¼″. Turn the square a quarter turn to the right and make 2 more score lines using the same measurements. Use a bone folder to reinforce all 4 folds, front and back. (FIGURE 1) Repeat with the other 3″ square.
2. Cut each square in half to make two 1½″ x 3″ rectangles. Place a small piece of washi tape over the cuts to secure the cut edges in their original position temporarily. (FIGURE 2) This will minimize the amount of trimming later on.
TIP: Stick and lift the tape off your shirt a few times before applying it to the paper to reduce the stickiness and the chance of ripping the paper when you remove the tape later.
3. Apply double-sided adhesive tape to the 4 corners of one of the washi-taped squares. (FIGURE 3) (The adhesive tape is represented by blue squares.) Be sure the tape is within the scored boundaries, since placing the tape over the scored marks will impede the flips later on.
4. Position the square with the double-sided adhesive tape on your work surface, sticky-side up and with the center cut in the horizontal position. (FIGURE 3) Align the other square on top with the center cut in the vertical position, with the washi tape facing you. Press the 4 corners together, and reinforce them with a bone folder to ensure good adhesion. Carefully remove the low-tack tape from the center cut on both squares.
5. Fold the flip to reveal the pages as follows: Start by holding the base between your thumbs and forefingers with the center cut in the vertical position. (FIGURE 4A) Slide your thumbs to the outer edge of the base and use them to push the flaps out and to the back (FIGURE 5) to make vertical folds at the score lines. The folds will run parallel to the center cut edge. Use a bone folder to reinforce the folds.
NOTE: The Figure 5 photo shows the folding explained in step 5, using the finished infinity flip.
TIP: Fold lines will always run parallel to the cut running through the center of the page.
6. Make horizontal folds on the second page by pushing up and down at the ¾″ and 2¼″ score lines. (FIGURE 4B) Use a bone folder to reinforce the folds.
7. Make a vertical fold on the third page by pushing outward at the ¾″ and 2¼″ score lines. (FIGURE 4C) Use a bone folder to reinforce the folds.
8. Finish by making a horizontal fold on the fourth page by pushing up and down at the ¾″ and 2¼″ score lines. (FIGURE 4D) Use a bone folder to reinforce the folds.
9. Check to see that each of the transitions between each page is smooth. Use scissors to trim the center seams as needed.
Decorate the flip base
NOTE: I like using hand-stenciled papers as backgrounds and collage elements to unify and add depth to my design.
1. Choose a theme, a color scheme, and one image to start your design. Think creatively. Ideas include developing a collage, playing with written words, (think mantra or a round song), or sketching a simple line that flows from one page to the next. You might play with perspective, zooming in and out of a scene, or with time, showing a flower grow and blossom.
NOTE: I usually don’t think any farther ahead than the first page at this point. Rather, I like to let my pages develop organically as I work through them, allowing the touch points and common areas of the page I am working on to inform the next.
2. Use gel medium to adhere thin background papers to all 4 pages, keeping in mind that some areas on one page may be common to the next. (FIGURE 6)
3. Flip to the page that resembles a plus sign, (FIGURE 4C). This is a good place to begin working, since the outer horizontal pieces are common with the page before it. Use a pencil to lightly sketch the outline of your design. I like to fully utilize the horizontal areas and let the composition flow over the edge of the page. If you’re not comfortable sketching, use transfer paper to trace a design. Use a paintbrush to block out your design with gesso. Let dry.
4. Flip one page backward (FIGURE 4B). Let the common area and touch points from the last page inform your design for this page. Here, the wings of the bee reminded me of a bird’s body, and the horizontal background reminded me of a heart. (FIGURE 7)
5. Continue working backward through the pages, adding sketches and blocking them out until you have filled all 4 pages.
6. Paint the pages with acrylic paints and glazes. I used multiple layers of glazes to adjust the colors and add depth.
7. Optional: Use a dip pen filled with India ink to add fine line details.
Jill McDowell is a college administrator by day and works in her art journal or on a mixed-media project every night. She loves exploring different art genres, experimenting with new techniques, and transforming what she has learned into her own unique style. She is currently a member of the Gwen Lafleur Studios Design Team. Visit her website at itsjustjillmcd.typepad.com.
This Paperology article also appears in our March/April 2018 edition of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine. Flip through our lookbook preview to see more of the inspiring mixed-media art inside this issue!