DIY: Folded Paper Books

by Jenn @ Frugal Upstate on September 22, 2010

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:

Variation

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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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Heather Solos September 23, 2010 at 7:16 am

Ok, I know my friend @carolinadreamz will get a kick out of this tutorial.
Thanks!

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Anne September 23, 2010 at 7:24 am

You just gave me flashbacks to my childhood Jenn!

When I was a little kid one of my grandmothers used to make Mr. & Mrs. Claus from folded Reader’s Digests – and I had forgotten all about it until I saw this!

They were something like this:
http://www.allfreecrafts.com/christmas/paperback-Santa.shtml
http://www.santalady.com/crafts/foldedmag/

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Frank September 29, 2010 at 3:43 pm

Why in the world would you mutilate a book? Seems absolutely indecent.

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kayla March 18, 2011 at 6:53 pm

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

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Jenn @ Frugal Upstate March 19, 2011 at 9:53 am

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.

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Linda Weeks November 27, 2012 at 8:17 pm

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.

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Jenn @ Frugal Upstate November 28, 2012 at 8:15 am

Thanks for your input Linda! Yes-I wouldn’t use a “good” book for this, but I think it’s a great way to breath new life into poor quality old books.

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Rose May 27, 2014 at 2:58 pm

Who doesn’t like art?

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Shea September 29, 2010 at 9:42 pm

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. :)

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Jenn @ Frugal Upstate September 29, 2010 at 10:11 pm

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.

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Lanie November 12, 2010 at 12:27 pm

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.

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DAWN November 12, 2010 at 7:49 pm

MY AUNT DID THE SAME THING, LANIE. I LOVED THEM. I MAY HAVE TO GIVE IT A TRY MYSELF. AAWW THE MEMORIES!

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Jenn @ Frugal Upstate November 12, 2010 at 7:51 pm

What fun memories!

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Ashlee November 13, 2010 at 4:03 pm

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.

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Jenn @ Frugal Upstate November 13, 2010 at 5:01 pm

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.

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Will Bennie January 4, 2013 at 4:06 am

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.

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Jenn @ Frugal Upstate January 4, 2013 at 7:42 pm

A standard paperback novel will work. Folding makes them puff up, so you won’t be too thin :)

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Alana Kelley March 18, 2013 at 8:15 am

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.

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Jenn @ Frugal Upstate March 18, 2013 at 8:45 am

I’m sorry Alana, I’m not sure how to do that. Wish I could be more help.

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Steven May 10, 2013 at 7:13 pm

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!

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Jenn @ Frugal Upstate May 13, 2013 at 8:09 am

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.

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