Isn’t this the coolest folded book art you have ever seen? I saw this style of folded book 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 folded 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 book folding art process looked like. I watched a bunch of videos like this one below.
Free book folding templates to download
For those of you that are not handy with Photoshop, here is a free book folding template that you can print yourself. Print the book folding pattern in landscape orientation as it will come out on more than one sheet of paper.
This free book folding pattern is for the word “love.” I have built it out in three different sizes depending on how many pages your book has. Choose the template that has less pages than the book you have. For example, if your book has 476 pages, choose the smaller 450 page book folding template to use. This is a difference of 26 pages so count out half of the pages (13) in the front that will not be folded. Once done following the book folding template, you will have 13 pages left in the back as well).
Choosing the right book to fold
- Find nice hardcover books at thrift stores around the city. I also love to stock up on books at 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 folding book handy to use as practice. My first folding book art was full of folding issues and turned out crap.
Easy book folding art 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 or you can borrow one of mine above for free.
- 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.
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” known as folding breaks in your chosen font/word. This happens with typefaces that have lots of embellishment like cursive fonts. See the see-saw blog above for more info on this.
Tips during the folding process
- Use heavy-duty books or weights 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!