Tutorial: Fun Folded Books

Making books by hand is one of the most creatively satisfying things, and there are tons of fun books you can make without having to sew a stitch. Folded books are beautiful, functional, and can be made quickly, so you can move on to filling the pages with your unique artwork. I’d love to show you one I made recently, inspired by a project in the eBook Folded Books and Paper Art: 14 Projects to Create.

We put this eBook together with carefully selected articles from Cloth Paper Scissors, Pages, I {Heart} Paper, and Paper Art magazines because we know you love folded books and paper projects. Plus, these projects are perfect for incorporating your favorite mixed-media techniques. In this digital download you’ll learn how to make different types of accordion books, a stunning wreath made of book pages, a dimensional pop-up book, a folded ornament made from a repurposed book, a gardening journal, a tufted paper sculpture, and much more. There’s even a paper primer, which has great info on the properties of various kinds of papers, paper terms, and how to determine paper grain.

folded books
The Folded Books and Paper Art eBook features 14 fun no-sew projects that use simple materials.

I was dying to make Jill K. Berry’s Spontaneous Deconstructed Journal, which features an accordion spine and pages that begin with wax rubbings. If you’ve never done rubbings before, you are in for a treat. I hadn’t done them for a long time, and I had forgotten how much fun they were to do, and to build on.

folded books
This fun folded book has an accordion spine and pages that incorporate wax crayon rubbings.

Rubbings reveal the relief of an object on paper, using wax-based crayons or colored wax cakes made just for this purpose (Jill lists resources in the article). Many people enjoy doing gravestone rubbings, but there are lots of other textures out in the world that make great patterns, and that’s half the fun—seeing the world as one big texture. A search quickly becomes a treasure hunt!

I found great rubbings while out and about, such as this manhole cover:

Sometimes the most unlikely objects, like manhole covers, make for great rubbing patterns.

Just around my office I discovered lots of fun textures, such as a rustic wooden beam and plastic flooring. Not exciting in real life, but great for textures and patterns. In the two photos below, rubbing crayon over the wood beam (first photo) resulted in the reddish-orange criss-cross pattern in the middle, and the manhole pattern is right below it in blue (second photo). I used kids’ crayons to capture the designs on pre-cut and pre-folded mixed-media paper, and did test runs on the same paper to make sure the design worked.

Once back in my studio I colored the papers with watercolor, using bright shades that held their own with the crayons. The waxy crayons act as a resist, and I had forgotten how much fun this technique is.

Wax-based crayons make a great resist for watercolor.

I painted several of the pages, added paint splatters to some, and allowed them to dry.

These watercolor and crayon designs will eventually become the pages for folded books.

In the article, Jill shows you how to build on your original rubbing design, and her techniques are fantastic, incorporating Twinkling H2Os, pens, and markers. These folded books are perfect for anything, but are especially great for summer travels—imagine all the great textures you can capture, and how that will add to your memory of the trip.

I added drawings, doodles, and some writing to my pages with sumi ink and a dip pen.

With all that color, pen and ink seemed like a good way to add drawings, doodles, and words.

Binding the book could not be easier. Jill recommends using painted Tyvek, which is a fantastic material that makes for an incredibly strong binding. I used colored cardstock, cutting it to the height of my pages and scoring and folding it at ¾” intervals. The first and last folds will be valley folds.

I decided which folded page I wanted for my cover, then glued it to the first single flap.

folded books
Folded books like these can be bound quickly—even when you’re on the road! Pre-cut your papers bring a glue stick along.

The rest of the folded pages were glued to the mountain folds, one side of the page per fold. Jill provides all the instructions, and there’s a clear diagram, so you’ll have no problems putting the book together. When you start attaching the pages to the spine, you’ll realize how sturdy the finished book is. You’ll definitely want to make another one.

folded books
As the pages are glued to the mountain folds, the book becomes more solid and easier to handle.

This Folded Books and Paper Art eBook has so much to keep you intrigued, and it’s sure to ramp up your skills. With the holidays not that far off, keep in mind that many of the projects make great gifts, décor, and party favors.

Download the book today and get started! I’ve got my box of crayons and some paper, and I’m heading out for another adventure!


Blog, Handmade Books, Mixed-Media Techniques

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