Introductory Book Sculpture Lesson

Learn how to transform old books into sculptural works of art.

Hi! I’m Johwey and I am glad you can join me for this lesson! xo

In this book sculpture tutorial, I’m going to teach you one of the basic folds in creating a book sculpture — the triangle fold — and how this simple fold can easily be modified to create interesting designs for your book sculptures.

An array of triangle folds creates a simple but captivating design.

Modify a series of triangle folds and you can come up with a variety of designs like this one.

Parts of the Book

Before we begin the lesson, take a moment to orient yourself with the parts of the book that I will often refer to:

Note: Ok, so I thought that the inside part of the book’s spine is considered the “gutter”. In the video, I’ve been calling that part of the spine, well, the “gutter”. Turns out, the “gutter” is just the inside margin. Oh well! Just so you know, I mean “spine” when I say “gutter” in the video! *wink

Materials You’ll Need

The beauty of making book sculptures is that you don’t really need much to create stunning works of art.

All you’ll really need to make the projects in this lesson are some used hardcover books. Your local library is a good source for old discarded books that have been taken out of circulation or donated by patrons. In the Origami Book Sculpture Workshop, I provide an in-depth discussion on what types of books are most suitable to use.

You may want to use a bone folder to help you make clean, crisp folds on the pages. Personally, I prefer to just use my fingers. You may also want to use tacky glue. Again, I prefer not to use glue because the pages get tighter at the spine the more I fold which “locks” the pages. So there really is no need for glue. Also, if I make a mistake, I want to be able to unfold the pages and redo them which would be a challenge if I used glue.

Lesson Video

Here’s the video demonstration for this lesson. Enjoy!

The Utzon Book Sculpture

If you had a difficult time following the folds for the Utzon Book Sculpture in the video, you can refer to the diagrams below.

(1) To make the middle folds in the Utzon Book Sculpture, follow Diagram A.

Figure A

(2) To make the background folds right behind the series of triangle folds, follow Diagram B.

Figure B

(3) To make the background folds right behind the folds you made in (2), follow Diagram C.

Figure C

(4) To make the last background fold in the Utzon Book Sculpture, just follow steps 1 and 2 in Diagram C.

Things to Remember

Attention to detail makes all the difference between an amateur work and a professional one. Here are some things to remember when making your book sculptures:

(1) Make sure you have the same number of folds on the left and right sides of your book so that when you display your book sculpture, the whole thing is balanced.

(2) Always make your folds away from the center of the book so that your fold lines are hidden.

Take your creativity further!

Experiment with making different designs using the folds you’ve just learned as the foundations. For example, the book sculpture shown below is a more intricate version of the Calatrava.

Finishing Off

Finishing off your book sculptures and making them ready for wall or tabletop display is covered in the Origami Book Sculpture Workshop.

Origami Book Sculpture Workshop

This free lesson is part of the “Origami Book Sculpture Workshop”. The workshop covers
more techniques and projects including how to make ceiling-mounted book sculptures.
Is your heart desiring to learn more?

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