Folded Book Ornaments - November 18, 2019

A few years ago I discovered that my local office store offered paper chopping services. When people are making flyers, they will make a million copies on full-size paper and then get it cut down into halves or quarters. Guess what! They can cut books, too! Before my workplace got a paper guillotine, I paid 50 cents per cut. 

I experimented with several kinds of books before I found the type I like best for ornaments - plain old paperback novels. 


Old paperback book you don't intend to read anymore. At least 150 pages (75 leaves)
embroidery floss or ribbon or baker's twine for hanging
Glitter & glue stick for decorating


1. Start with getting your book cut - paperbacks are about 4.25"x7" (10.5cm x 17.5cm) - I cut this one into 5 pieces - no particular size. 

View #1 - book cut, but close together

View #2 - separated - this seemed important to show, but it's probably not

2. From one of the sections, remove the cover.

3, With the bound side furthest from you, take the first page and fold it backwards into the inside of the book. The rest of the folds will be opposite and this first page will stay down better if folded in this direction. It won't stick out weirdly.

4. When you are folding down the page, you want to softly crease the paper - barely pushing it down. A sharp crease made with your fingernail will do two things - neither of which you want. First, it will decrease the fullness of your ornament. Secondly, the page curls slightly, like when you make curls with wrapping ribbon. 

5. All following folds are made in the opposite direction - "up" and into the gutter (where the pages meet at the binding).

6. Ensure that the paper lines up with the cut side of the block and goes as far into the gutter as possible. This makes all the folded pieces equal(ish) lengths around the ornament. Sometimes the cuts made with the paper chopper aren't perfectly square. Even if the block isn't perfectly squared, as long as you make sure to keep one side of the papers even with the cut, it will look nice! 

7. Continue folding. Keep the sides even (at least one side) and make sure to tuck the folds into the gutter. Crease gently.

Three folds down, a bunch more to go!
8. Folding, folding folding - isn't it pretty?

9. As you fold, you can see it forming the circle shape. Notice how much of the text block I have left. If I continue folding the entire block, the shape could become skewed. 

10. I made an educated guess and broke off some of the text block, leaving enough to make a nice circle shape on the inside (see the little hole? The binding of the book is glued and a little stiff. If you fold too many pages, it doesn't bend nicely and you can end up with a wonky circle. If you're ok with that, great!).

I broke off some of the text block, leaving enough for the inner hole to look nice and round
11. I finished folding up the last few pages and got this!

OOH! Perfect!
12. All that's left now is cosmetic! I used beads and strung them on the thread before tying off and gluing it down into the center. I glued the beads in, too, so it looked more finished. If I had been smarter, I'd have done things in this order:
  • first glittered the ornaments (use a glue stick and gently rub some glue onto the folded edges of the papers. Roll the glued papers onto a pile of glitter. Continue until you've glued/glittered the whole thing.
  • strung the beads onto the twine (make long enough for the loop to extend beyond the ornament so it will hang nicely)
  • tied it off 
  • glued the KNOT into the center
  • and lastly, glued the two end strips of paper together  

Don't worry if the two ends don't exactly match up. After all, this is handmade and there are imperfections. The below picture shows you the wonkiness of three different ornaments. You can also see what the ornaments look like when you fold multiple pages together at once. The top on is five pages and the bottom two are two pages for each fold. You'll need paperbacks with more than 150 pages/ 75 leaves for these. Experiment! Expect to throw away lots before you like what you make.

Side view of two ornaments with different numbers of pages folded.
The one on the right is more pages and has a chunkier look!
Each of these ornaments took less than 10 minutes to fold (I timed myself today!). The decorating part takes as long as you like. You don't even have to glitterize them if you want a plainer look. Try glittering it on the sides if you like.

There's so much glitter all over my desk now. Glitter truly is the plague of the craft world....


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