Literary Origami – Book Fold Angel

Folded Book Angel

This is one of the easiest Book Fold Projects I’ve found so far. If you would like to try it, the instructions are below. (Be sure to read the Book Folding 101 post first if you have never folded a book.)

1.  The book – mine was almost 180 pages long (90 leaves). If your book has more leaves you will get a ‘denser’ body.

The first six leaves formed the left wing. The last six leaves were the right wing.

2. I used six page leaves for each wing. All the rest of the page leaves were for the body. You can see that the folds on the left wing were made on the other side of the leaf than all the folds for the body and the right wing.

3. This is how the book looked when I was working on it. The top of the book was on my right.  I used a dark piece of cardstock to help make straight folds. I used the stick to make the folds crisper.

4. Side Page Marks for the left wing (front of the book). Measurements are in inches. You may want to vary these to achieve a different look. If you want to work in metric, .5 inches is equal to 1.27 cm – so you will probably want to do some rounding…

First page:   .5 inches from the top of the book.
Second page:   1 inch from the top of the book.
Third page:   1.5 inch from the top of the book.
Fourth page:   2 inches from the top of the book.
Fifth page:   2.5 inches from the top of the book.
Sixth page:   3 inches from the top of the book.

5. The Angel body. My side page mark was 1.25 inches from the bottom of every page.

6. When I had only six pages left in the book, I did the right wing. The marks on these pages were done in the reverse order of the front wing – so I started with the mark that was 3 inches from the top of the page and ended with the mark that was .5 inches from the top.

7. The head – I stuck a styrofoam ball onto a thin wood skewer. The skewer was off centre.
– I carefully cut one of the ‘body pages’ out of the book with an exacto knife and tore it into suitable size pieces.
– I dipped each torn piece into white glue mixed with water (about 4 parts water to one part glue – and you don’t need very much of it!)
– Then I molded each paper piece onto the ball. When it was dry, I did a second layer where needed.
– When everything was dry, I slid the skewer down the spine of the book.

8. Decorating the Angel – I haven’t done that yet!

Literary Origami – Book Folding 101

Angel Book: Hard cover book stands on its own; top view – the folds all begin at the same place along the top of the book. The same is true for the bottom.

Before I show you how to make a Folded Book Angel – there are a few things you need to know first:

1. Book Folding is kind of a free-form craft. There are a few techniques, however, that make it easier!  If you have never folded a book before, then start with a sacrificial book that you can test on!

2. 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’ are NOT interchangeable – if the pattern you choose says you need 200 leaves, you need to use a book with at least 400 pages…

3. Equipment: top left: the ‘toaster tongs’ that my father in law made out of clothes pegs; bottom right, l-r: black cardstock strip, creaser tool, ruler, pencil

Also, choose a hard cover book so that the book will stand up on its own. You might want a book with cleanly cut page edges, not rough cut ones – though there might be patterns that would look good with rough edges.

3. Equipment: Besides the book, you will need
a ruler;
a pencil;
– a strip of cardstock that is about 2 inches by 10 inches (5cm by 25 cm),
– a couple of clothespegs to hold the book open when it would prefer to be closed. I use  some ‘toaster tongs’ that my father-in-law made with two clothespegs (side by side) sandwiched by two strips of wood.)
– a creaser 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.)

4. The Dangerous Part: The pencil mark and scored line on the top end of the book.

4. The Dangerous Part – Marking the fold marks on the top and bottom of the pages. You do this so that all your folds begin at the same place on the top or bottom of the book. I do this by Measuring, Marking and scoring. You’ll need a pencil and exacto knife or a regular knife to do this. (Knives – the dangerous bit)

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 or a regular 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!)

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.

5. Turn the book so that the top of the book is on your right and the spine is at 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, for the angel, I made a mark 1.25 inches (3 cm) from the bottom of the book.

Top on the right. Spine at the top of the work surface. The mark on the top and bottom of the book are the ones you scored with the blade of a knife. The mark on the side of the page is, in this case, 1.25 inches (3 cm) from the bottom of the page.

6. 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. 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 page mark.

One fold is made from the mark on the top of the page to the mark on the side of the page. The second fold is from the mark on the bottom of the page to the mark on the side of the page. Align the marks along the piece of cardstock.

7. 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.

Small fold.

8. Your last fold goes from the bottom page mark to the side page mark.

The last fold.


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

Make the folds crisp.

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

The two folds when there are two marks on the side of the page.

11. 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 is the basics. Other posts in this series:

Literary Origami – Heart and Cat
Literary Origami – Folded Book Angel
Book Fold Angel Decorated
Literary Origami – Book Folding 202 – A Paw Print
As the Month Unfolded – I Folded Easy Angles
Book Folding – the Letter ‘M’ and Fringe Flowers
The Dark Side of Book Folding

Literary Origami – Book Fold Heart and Cat

Do you fold down a corner of a book page (dog-ear) to mark you place? I can’t bring myself to do that – maybe because I have so many cool book marks! Or maybe it is just a lifelong habit – I suppose a hold over from a time when books were less available and more valuable – handed down for the next generation to read and enjoy.

You can imagine, then, my initial horror at seeing a whole book of folded pages!

But the result was so wonderful! I saw this folded book this past August at the Hospice where my dad spent his last days. “Peace” – it was an appropriate sentiment in that caring environment.

The Craft of Book Folding has been around for quite a few years, even if it was brand new to me. I soon realized, too, that the number of books that end up in land fills makes Book Folding a very desirable way of recycling books. I made several trips to our local recycling center and selected a book for my first project – a Heart. When that heart went home with a friend, I made another Heart!

After the two Hearts, I moved on the a more difficult pattern – “Cat” (C Pawprint t.)


Other than the book itself, Book Folding equipment is quite simple – a ruler, a pencil, a bone folder tool, a few pieces of cardstock, and some big clips. The most challenging aspect were the patterns. (There are some free patterns on the internet.) I chose to make my own patterns, using a template that I made in Microsoft Excel.

There are many excellent YouTube videos and websites that give detailed instructions. I waded through a few of them until I understood the basics and found some techniques that worked best for me.

The pattern I’m working on now is a Wine Glass. I’m not really pleased with it so far, but it might look much better when it is done…

Goodreads conducted a poll on how people keep track of their place in a book. Thousands and thousands of people responded. The most popular choice was a  scrap of paper or some sort of bookmark. Almost 9% dog-ear the page. How do you mark your place?