Tips and ideas to make beautiful folded book art

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Book folding art for the word 'love'

Repurpose hardcover books into this beautiful folded book art

Isn’t this the coolest book you have ever seen? I saw this style of folded book sculpture at a store one day and thought, “I can make that myself!” After a few months of procrastination, some Googling and a couple misadventures in book folding, I’ve learned some best practices to fold words onto the pages to make the most lovely folded book art. These books make for great gifts for weddings, baby showers, birthdays and a lovely addition to any home or office. Follow my beginner book folding tips below to get started.

How folded book art is created

To wrap my head around this mind-boggling concept, I turned to Youtube to watch what this folding process looked like. I watched a bunch of videos like this one below.

 

Easy book folding tutorial

There are a few different ways to make these books with many book folding templates available on the Internet. But my preferred method is to follow the see-saw blog for her folded book art tutorial. Trust me, I looked at a lot of different options, but I like this particular method because it:

  • Provides a very handy Photoshop template to update and modify.
  • This template allows you to use any font and any word that you like.
  • You can also use books with different number of pages rather than having to find a specific book to use.
  • No rulers or pencils are needed to mark off spacing and specs for every page. You just follow the template you create which is much simpler to use.
  • Head over to the see-sawblog blog to grab the template and see the folding steps, then pop back over here for more tips.
The word 'home' folded into a book.

Use different words to share your message: “home” for housewarming gift, the name of a newborn for a baby gift and so on.

Choosing the right book to fold

  • You can find nice hardcover books at thrift stores around the city. I also love to stock up on books at the annual book sales like CBC Calgary Reads Big Book Sale or the RESET Society of Calgary book sale. I recommend buying books with at least 300-400 pages as that will usually cover most words to fold.
  • Pull back the cover jacket on the hardcover book to see what is underneath. All books have beautiful covers and colors to choose from especially if you’re looking to do a specific décor theme. Sometimes you may want to find a specific book to use if there’s a special memory attached or for someone’s favourite author and the like. Steer away from the mystery book section – I find the titles of the books don’t make for very nice gifts to other people lol.
  • Make sure the edges of the pages are flat. Sometimes books are intentionally published with a deckle or “jagged” edge but this will make your craft project so much harder to fold.
  • I prefer books that are not too tall and not too small. As the folded book art is meant to be home décor, you want to find an appropriately-sized book in both cover size and number of pages to use.
  • Check that the spine and pages are intact. You don’t want pages to fall out as you’re folding
  • Make sure pages are easy to fold. I made the mistake of buying an older hardcover book that was quite well worn. The pages were very thick and “pulpy”. As I was folding, the pages would start cracking and ripping easily. Needless to say, this was very frustrating to have it fall apart as I was trying to make something beautiful.
  • Have an extra book handy to use as a trial/practice book. My first book was full of folding issues and turned out crap.
Folded book art in progress.

Use elastics to hold back folded pages as you finish your project.

Setting up the book folding template

Spend lots of time checking your Photoshop template to ensure it is done properly and correctly.

  • I find that 4-5 letter words are the best length to work with. I have done upwards of 7 letters, but the problem is that your book will fold into quite the crazy accordion which makes it hard to actually read the word. Less is better.
  • You’ll need about 80 pages approximately per letter although this can vary depending on how think your page sheets are, how long the book is etc.
  • Make sure the letters are “thick” – as you fold the pages to match the outline on the template you won’t want the letters to be too skinny and hard to fold. I have taken a pencil to my printed template to widen out parts of the letters that are too thin to fold to.
  • Center your word on your template to best match the cover size of the book that you are using.
  • Print your pages out  neat and straight – if it comes out crooked on the copier, then your folding will end up crooked too.
  • Avoid having too many “interruptions” in your chosen font/word. This happens with typefaces that have lots of embellishment like cursive fonts.
Folding book art tips

In this example, there are 3 black sections or “interruptions” all meeting at the same line. Try not to have more than 3 interruptions in your design as it can be too difficult to show the detail of the typeface.

Tips during the folding process

  • Have heavy-duty books or weights around to help keep your book from moving around as you fold.
  • I like to use these extra big Staples rubber bands to keep the folded pages out of the way as I continue folding.
  • With folded books that have 6 or more letters or if you find the spine of the book is weak, you may want to tie a ribbon around the bottom part of the book to keep your folded book art standing upright.

 

Are you ready to get folding? Practice makes perfect and I am totally here to help you along the way. Comment below or message me @heyseto if you need any feedback on your folded book art. Good luck!

Folding book art with word 'best'

Good luck making the “best” folded book art!


Irene Seto

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