A new profession: folding books | Outlook


Books have more uses than they appear. Of course, you can put the pretty ones as decoration, you can read the damn things. But have you tried turning a book into a three-dimensional sculpture?

The process can be quite simple; the result, a beautiful conversation piece.

There are many permutations of book folding, an art form of folding the pages of a hardcover book – sometimes in combination with cutting the paper – into the book’s own binding. The finished work comes off the page in three dimensions and can be hung on the wall or placed on a table. Groups of three or more are the most dynamic.

“They look awesome on the wall,” says Candice Caldwell of Chicago. “A group of six of them on the wall can be very beautiful, and they are just very simple folds.”

Caldwell, who blogs about reusing everyday items such as books in “ReFab journals,” was turning old books into clocks when, in 2003, she saw a simple project to fold books into a magazine. DIY and tried it.

She has since taught several friends and her mother how to fold books into wall art. “It’s very, very forgiving,” Caldwell says.

Clare Youngs, author of Folded book art, also says that folding books is easy. His book includes instructions for folding a butterfly and other designs.

“It sounds complicated and impractical, but it’s really easy to do,” Youngs said in an email from his home in Kent, England. “You don’t tell anyone how easy it is and they’ll be amazed at your creations.”

Find book folding tutorials on YouTube (Johwey Redington’s “Introductory Book Sculpture Leson” is a good program) and on creative blogs – Caldwell shares links to many useful sites. Instructables, the website that lists how-tos on homes, crafts, and tech, shares a three-step tutorial.

You can also order patterns online. Designs include animals, geometric designs, numbers and inspirational words, and designs and finished pieces are sold at Etsy.com.

“My mouth is always wide open when I find these people (like the Crizu artists),” Martin says. “I can’t get over the creativity that people have for a simple old book. They do something completely different with it.”

Youngs started folding pages into art several years ago when she saw images of crafts online on Pinterest. She watched a few tutorials on YouTube before putting her daughter’s age in a book.

“It’s quite a therapeutic activity,” Youngs says. “You get into a scoring and folding rhythm that is relaxing, and it’s very satisfying to watch the form develop.”

Martin has a quick comeback for those who think folding books is an act of destruction.

“Let’s be realistic here. Sometimes the old books are better suited for a new purpose,” says Martin. “I think it’s OK to go ahead and take that old unused book that’s going to be thrown out anyway and turn it into a work of art.”

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