Literary Origami – Book Folding 101

Folded Book Angel

I wanted to show you how to make a Folded Book Angel – but there are a few things you might want to know before you try this:

1. There are no hard and fast rules for Book Folding! It is kind of a free-form craft. There are a few techniques, however, that make it easier!

2. If you have never folded a book before, then start with a sacrificial book that you can test on!

3. A few book terms – so that we are all on the same page, as it were. Book pages  are printed two to a book leaf.  The words ‘page’ and ‘leaf’ can mostly be used interchangeably, but remember – if the pattern you choose says you need 200 leaves, you need to use a book with at least 400 pages…

Also, you might want a book with cleanly cut page edges, not rough cut ones – though there might be patterns, like the Angel, that would look good with rough edges.

4. Equipment: Besides the book, you will need
a ruler;
a pencil;
– a strip of cardstock;
– a couple of clothespegs to hold the book open when it would prefer to be closed;
– a crease folding tool to make the folds crisper than your fingernail can make them. People who do a lot of book folding buy a tool called a bone folder. You could also use the rounded back of a spoon. I use a pointy stick that is slightly convex from side to side. (A remnant from pottery making days.)

The pencil mark and scored line on the top end of the book.

5. Book folding is simply a matter of making at least two folds on each leaf. Most folds begin (or end if you prefer) from a mark on the top of the page (or bottom of the page) to a mark on the side of the page.

Getting started – Making the fold marks on the top and bottom of the pages. One way is to Measure, Mark and score a line on the top and bottom of the book.

You’ll need a pencil and exacto knife for this step:

With the book partly closed, stand it on its top covers.  You are going to create a scored line across all the pages. Measure about 3/4 inch (2 cm) from the spine and draw a line like you see in the photo. Using the ruler and an exacto knife, score the line so that you can see the score on each page when the book is flat and open. (It is very difficult to do a nice fold if that top mark is too close to the spine!)

Top view of the Angel Book. The folds all begin at the same place along the top of the book. The same is true for the bottom.

You will do this to both the top and the bottom of the book.

If you don’t want do this step, then you can devise some other way to line up your folds so that they are consistent across the top and bottom of the book. You can see the reason for this in the photo of the top of the Angel Book.

The marks that tell you where to fold.

6. Turn the book so that the top is on your right and the spine is on the top of your work surface. You should be able to faintly see the marks you made on the top and bottom of the book. You’ll make another mark on the side of the page. In this case, I made a mark 1.25 inches (3 cm) from the bottom of the book.

Aligning the marks with a piece of cardstock.

7. A cardstock strip is a handy tool for making straight folds. Align the cardstock so it touches the top of the page mark and the side of the page mark.

The first fold – overlaps the previous page.

8. Hold the cardstock securely in place with one hand and use the other hand to fold the page along the cardstock. Press with your finger. This fold made a nice triangle, but it caused the page to overlap the previous page.

A second small fold corrects the overlapping situation.

9. To fix the overlapping page situation, make another small fold. Now you have a ‘broken’ triangle…

The last fold completes all the folds needed on that page.

10. Your next fold goes from the bottom page mark to the side of the page mark.

Use a tool of some sort to make the folds crisp.

11. When you are done, use your crease folding tool to make everything crisp.

Some projects will have two marks on the side of the page, but you will still only have two folds.

12. For some projects, you will have two marks on the side of the page.

Two marks on the side of the page gives you two folds like this.

13. When you are finished folding for two side page marks, your page leaf will look like the photo above.

14. When you aren’t working on your book, close it and store it under a stack of two or three heavy books. That will help to compress the folded pages.

That’s the basics. My next post will show you how I made the Book Fold Angel.

Categories: Creative

Tagged as:

8 replies »

    • A book without it’s book cover becomes a different entity! I have to wonder if the author picks the colour of the cover or it is up to the publisher.

      The folding does take quite a bit of time, but the measuring is the only part that takes some concentration. I listen to music and that seems to make the time fly.


      • It looked challenging Margy but you gave good directions and visual aids. I passed the post along to a fellow blogger who has a Christmas angel collection. I had never heard of a book angel and she said her husband bought her one and it sits on her piano.


There, I'm finished. Now it is your turn:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s