How To Make Folded Book Art, Including Free Heart Pattern!
After many requests, I’ve decided to put together some instructions on how to make folded book art! This is using the cut and fold method and I’ve included some diagrams to follow as well, so hopefully that makes things a little easier. At the end of this post, I’ve included all the instructions in a document you can download, as well as the measurements you’ll need specifically for the free heart pattern. Have fun!
Things you need:
– A Ruler
– A pencil (I like to use a mechanical pencil to make the marks more precise, but a sharp pencil is absolutely fine)
– Scissors (again, I like to use straight nail scissors to make the cuts more precise, so the sharper/finer the scissors, the better)
– Optional – Bone folder (This is to make the creases sharper, but using your nail, a plastic card or similar will work too)
– Optional – Glue stick (This is only needed if there are fine or fiddly cuts to make, to glue down any tabs)
Before you start:
Before you start, you’ll need to work out what book you can use for each pattern. I would avoid any book with an inserted picture plate section, but any general fiction book would be ideal. Hardbacks are generally better, as they result in them standing sturdier when finished. An alternative to this, is using a paperback and glueing a thicker piece of card or cardboard between the cover and the first page of the book.
You’ll need to make sure that you have a book which is the right length too. You need to work out how many pages your book has – this is very rarely the number of pages stated in the book. Rather, you need to count all the pages in the book, including the preliminary pages at the beginning of the book, and any bibliography pages at the end of the book. It’s okay if your book has more pages than the pattern requires (I will explain later on how you can solve this issue), but you do not want a book that has less pages than the pattern requires – this simply won’t work.
You’ll also want to measure the height of the pages of the book (not the book itself!). Most books will fall in the 20cm – 23cm range, which is ideal for book folding. Anything taller or shorter, will not work for most patterns.
Once you have a book that fits to the number of pages required and the right height for the pattern, you are ready to start!
Where do I start?
First of all, you want to work out what page we are starting the pattern on. As stated previously, it’s very rare to have a book that has exactly the right number of pages for your pattern, and that’s completely fine.
This is how to work out where to start:
Say you have a pattern that is 400 pages, but your book has 432 pages. This means you have 32 extra pages (or 16 leaves) than what is required. We want the pattern to be centralised in the book. Therefore we half the number of pages, that are extra (so 32 extra pages divided by 2 is 16 pages (8 leaves) ). We want half of the extra pages to be at the beginning of the book, and the other half to be at the end of the book. Therefore, 16 pages need to be at the beginning, and 16 at the end (or 8 leaves at the front, and 8 leaves at the back). We would therefore start the pattern on page 17 (or the 9th leaf) of the book. Again, this won’t be page 17 as numbered in the book, because you have the prelims, so do keep this in mind when working this out. Before I start measuring and cutting, I always note what page I started on (ie. Page 1 of the pattern falls on page 5 of the book). It’s therefore easier for me to keep track when I get further into the book, knowing the page of the book is always 4 more than the page of the pattern.
(No. Of pages your book has) minus (No. Of pages your pattern has) equals (No. Of extra pages)
432 minus 400 equals 32
(No. Of extra pages) divided by 2 equals (No. Of pages at beginning and end of book)
32 divided by 2 is 16 pages at the beginning and end of the book
TIP: ‘Leaves’ are referred to the number of pieces of paper a book has, whereas ‘pages’ are referring to how we would count the pages in a normal fiction book. Ie. One leaf (one piece of paper) in a book, is actually 2 pages of the book. Keep this in mind! Leaves are always half the number of pages in a book. It’s important to consider this when working out how many pages a book has, especially when counting the prelims which are usually not numbered, and that it’s important to add on the number of pages, not the number of leaves to work out the final number.
Now to start!
Hopefully you’ve worked out what page you need to start the pattern on and now you can start. I recommend using the 180 method for all my patterns, as I think it provides a clearer final image as it bulks out the book, but of course this is optional. The 180 method is essentially a ‘pre-fold’ you do, before you start measuring and cutting. If you don’t want to do this, you can skip straight to step 2 of the instructions.
Step 1: The 180 method (prefold)
The 180 fold, is folding the page about a 1cm into the book, before measuring and cutting, and bulks out the book. There are various ways to do this prefold but this is my preferred method. I take a rule that is about 2.5cm wide. I line this up against the edge of the book and draw a line against the length of the book. Once I have drawn the line, then you fold over the edge of the book to the line, and press down on the crease, using a bone folder, your nail, or other resource.
This has now made the prefold 1.25cm wide, and is a quick and easy way to do this. This is the 180 prefold now complete! If you don’t have a ruler which is the right width to just draw a line there are a couple of alternative ways to do this:
– You can measure 2.5cm from the edge of the book at the top of the page, then at the bottom of the page, join the two marks together, to get your line. Then fold to the line as normal.
– If you have a ruler which is wider than the 2.5cm, then you can cellotape a piece of thick cardboard underneath for the difference. Ie. If you have a ruler which is 4cm wide, cut a piece of cardboard with a width of 1.5cm, so that when you put the ruler against the side of the book, resting on the piece of cardboard underneath, then only 2.5cm of the ruler is overlapping onto the book, resulting in a line 2.5cm in. Fold to the line as usual.
TIP: For pages which don’t have any measurements (ie. If the book has more pages than the pattern requires), then still do the prefold for these pages. This ensures a tidier finished product.
Step 2: Measuring
Once, you have the prefold, you can now move onto the measurements. Again, make sure you are on the right page to start, which you should have previously calculated, leaving any pages you don’t need, with just the prefold. Now measure from the top of the page (the top of my page is to the left in my illustration), and make a small mark on where each of the measurements are. All the measurements you mark should be measured from the top of the book. For example, I have marked 6cm, 9cm, 13cm and 14cm. There will always be an even amount of measurements. If you have decided not to do a 180 prefold, you will still measure the same way.
Step 3: Cutting along the measurements
Now you need to cut along these marks. You want to ensure you cut an equal length along all the marks, so that when you fold, they are the same depth in. If you have one the 180 prefold, cut through until the line you previously drew. This should cut all the width of the tab. If you did not do the 180 prefold, then make a mark on your scissors (with a sharpie for example), 1cm along. Every time you cut, cut only to the line on the scissors. (the top of my book is now to the right of this image).
Step 4: Folding
Now you need to fold the tabs over. You need to decide whether you want an “innie” or “outie” book as it determines which tabs you fold over. Essentially this means, do you want your image to fall into the book (an ‘innie’), as illustrated by the Hamilton and heart example, or do you want an ‘outie’, where the image stands out of the book. This is largely determined by personal choice, but if I am unsure, I always do an ‘innie’ as I think they look nicer, and are generally easier. If you want an innie pattern, then you need to fold in the even tabs, and if you want an outie, you need to fold the odd tabs. For example, for the above illustration, I have decided to do an innie, so have folded the 2nd and 4th tab in. Whichever method you choose, you fold every other tab. It doesn’t matter if you count the tabs from the top or the bottom of the book – it will result in the same way. You fold the same way – regardless of whether you did the 180 prefold or not.
TIP: The first tab is the piece between the top of the page, and the 1st measurement. The second tab is the piece between the 1st and 2nd measurement. The third tab is the piece between the 2nd and 3rd measurements etc.
When folding the tab in for a 180 prefold, you want to make sure you unfold the tab completely. If there are a few tabs that aren’t staying down (this will mainly be the smaller ones), then you can glue them down in place if you wish.
TIP: If you are unsure whether to do an ‘innie’ or an ‘outie’, determine how difficult the pattern is. If the pattern is fairly easy (ie. Large shapes with not many small tabs), then this would work as both an innie and outie. However, if your pattern is quite difficult, has lots of small tabs, or has words or writing, then this will generally be better as an innie to show the detail. If you start doing it one method and think it would look better the other way, then no need to worry – you can go back and change this by folding the other tabs and unfold the tabs you’ve already done.
Repeat for all the pages with measurements and then you have the final product!
Want to try for yourself? I’ve put together a very simple heart pattern that you can try! Below are the measurements you’ll need, according to the height of the book you have at hand, as well as the above instructions available to download in a document. All of these heart patterns are for 100 pages, which means you can repeat the heart pattern as many times as you want within the book (ie. if you had a book 344 pages, you can repeat the heart 3 times, and have 44 spare pages, divided between the front and the back, as explained above). The measurements go by page number (not leaf number!), hence why the page numbers are just the odd numbers of the book.
I would highly suggest using the 180 prefold method for this pattern, to bulk the pattern out (most patterns are over 500 pages, so don’t always require it!). Alternatively if you *really* don’t want to do the 180 prefold method, you could repeat each of the measurements on 2 leaves. Ie. This would take up 200 pages, as opposed to 100 pages, so you’d do the measurements for measurement 1 on 2 leaves (4 pages), then measurement 2 on the next 2 leaves (4 pages).
For illustration purposes, I used a paperback book, with the ‘innie’ method. I then cut up the paperback book (I know, I’m sorry!), because I liked the look of it as an individual heart, and made 3 of these separate hearts with one paperback book. If you decide to do this method, you will need to do one blank prefold at the beginning and end of your heart to complete the look. As explained above, you could also stick a piece of card to the front and back page to stabilise this further.
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