DIY: Folded Paper Books

I have been fascinated this year with the idea of crafting with old books, magazines & junk mail to make functional or decorative items. There is just something alluring about the idea of making beauty out of  what some would call junk. . . part recycling, part artistry~but completely “one of a kind”.

The first things I tried was book folding, which is, oddly enough, exactly what it sounds like.  You simply fold the pages of books in a repetitive pattern to make them into object d’art.

different types of folded books

Folded books

Aren’t they interesting looking?  The one in the back-the sort of 3d Diamond or double cone-is what I’ll show you in this tutorial.

1. Choose a book to fold. Cheap is good-this cost me $.25 at a yard sale.

2. Rip off the front & back covers, then make your first fold-in this case a triangle

3. Make any additional folds in the page. We fold the top down as well to complete the triangle.

4. Repeat.

5. Repeat again.

6. Repeat yet again.

Completed Folded Book

7. Until all pages are done!

This very simple pattern used the entire novel and took me about 2 hours to fold mindlessly while watching TV.

To make this version:


You simple fold the point of the triangle you formed in toward the spine of the book.  This makes each folded page thicker-so you will either have a tighter book or just cut of the end of the book & use it for something else.

The patterns are only limited by your imagination.  You can fold every other page in a different direction for multiple shapes.  I’ve considered brushing the edges of the book with paint or ink to give it more depth & color as well.

They can be displayed individually on shelves, or in a grouping as a centerpiece.  Have fun with it!

For a much more elaborate folded book-check out this one on Grand Illusions-they even have a video!

So what do you think? Do I have you itching to start folding?

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    • kayla says

      To recycle or make new use to it….This project is good for old invaluable cheap books, not new expensive ones

      • Jenn @ Frugal Upstate says

        Kayla-I agree. I prefer to give books to other folks who will read or enjoy them, or to donate them at the library. However there are plenty of unloved books in thrift shops etc that would be great for this project.

    • Linda Weeks says

      Hi, thought I’d throw my 2 cents worth in – I work in a library, but over the years I’ve seen so many books go into the recycling, or even worse, once we had so many books to get rid of that we had to PAY guys to come pick up huge trash cans full – and they didn’t even recycle them, they shredded them and put them in the landfill. (There were those nasty plastic book jacket covers welded onto a lot of them) and any goodwill or thrift shop has far more books than they can humanly sell. We all love books, who doesn’t love books? But they are aesthetically pleasing, as well as readable pleasing! It’s a perfect art.

  1. says

    My father would have a cow if I did this. He sees me and my son fold one page down and he has an absolute fit over it.

    I just might have to try this. :)

    • Jenn @ Frugal Upstate says

      Shea-you are a rebel

      Frank-I understand your gut reaction as I am a read-a-holic and love books of all types. I am on a first name basis with all our librarians, and I donate good quality books to them rather than just toss them out. Our library is small and is always giving away books because they don’t have room to shelve some. This book was by no means “fine” literature. Unread books actually contribute to the landfill problem-I’d rather give it new life or compost the book than just throw it out.

  2. Lanie says

    I use to do this with my great grandmother before she passed away. We spray-painted them green and added glitter to make “Christmas Trees”. We glued them down to a cardboard circle and made presents to go under it… I haven’t thought about these in years. I think I will be making these with my little girls this season.

    • Ashlee says

      I have been searching the internet endlessly to mimic a 3 tiered (stackable) folded paper tree. This is the first articled I’ve found that describes this craft projects. If you know of any other sites – I really want to make a circles (3 different sizes) and stack them on top of each other to make a centerpiece for my table. Any hints would be great.

      • Jenn @ Frugal Upstate says

        Ashlee-That sounds interesting. I think to get the effect you are thinking of I would actually cut the books. For example, cut 2 paperbacks in half horizontally. Take 3 of these sections-the first fold each page in half. On the second cut about an inch off the edge of each page, then fold each page in half. On the third section cut 2 inches off the edge of each page and then fold in half. . . does that make sense? Good luck.

  3. Will Bennie says

    I have been making my way through a big long list of craft projects to complete and came upon this one that i had listed a long time ago. I have a load of old and unloved books but i was just wondering about how many pages long one of these books should be? Just wondering if anyone could give me a rough estimate because it would be such a shame to do all that folding and then end up with one thats pissy and half full. Thanks alot.

  4. Alana Kelley says

    I’d love to fold the word love, any ideas where to find
    A tutorial or anything as I’d love to do this for my husband
    For our 1 yr anniversary.

  5. Steven says

    First of all I want to say superb blog! I had a quick question that I’d like to ask if you don’t mind.
    I was interested to find out how you center yourself and clear your thoughts
    prior to writing. I’ve had a difficult time clearing my thoughts in getting my thoughts out there. I truly do enjoy writing however it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes tend to be lost simply just trying to figure out how to begin. Any suggestions or hints? Thank you!

    • says

      This seems rather like the general spam comments that I get quite frequently-but on the off chance that this is actually a real person with a real question I will say that you can’t always clear your mind–sometimes you just have to power through it and start writing. As a writing book I read once (Bird by Bird)–the secret to writing is really shitty first drafts. Get it on paper (or screen), then edit it and make it better.

  6. Jane says

    Hi Jen, thanks for this fab tutorial, it really motivated me to give it a go. One problem I’ve got however is now the book’s all folded – how do I join the first page to the last? Want to turn it into a mobile but its gaping at the back. Any suggestions would be most welcome. Jane


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