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Exploring Paper

Hanging Book Sculpture Tutorial

Learn how to make this hanging book sculpture that you can display indoors or outdoors.




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Exploring Paper

Book Sculpture Tutorial: The Dickinson


The Dickinson Book Sculpture features a staggered geometric design complemented with dainty pearl-accented flowers. It is one of my bestsellers, and now you can do it at home with this free video tutorial. For a guide to choosing the right book for this project, click here. For instructions on how to make the paper flowers, click here.



Below are the patterns for the Dickinson Book Sculpture as discussed in the video. It is presented here for easy reference. Each block represents a group of pages and the red dashed lines show where to cut the pages.



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Exploring Paper

Book Sculpture Tutorial: The Yin-Yang

I’ve received numerous inquiries about how to make the Yin-Yang book sculpture, and I’m excited to finally offer a free video tutorial for it. The concept behind this design is to cut the pages incrementally by 1/8″ to create the gradated look. I call this design the Yin Yang because the two halves seem to complement yet tug at each other – much like the dynamic system of contrary forces found in nature, seemingly opposing yet interconnected and interdependent. For a guide to choosing the right book for this project, click here.




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Exploring Paper The Creative Process

Learning from the Masters: Cutout Studies

Inspired by patterns and geometric abstraction, I did some cutout studies to explore shapes and spacial relationships – with the end goal of translating these concepts in my encaustic work. Most of the plates shown below were inspired by abstract artists whose works I studied, while a few are either direct copies or products of remnant elements from the other cutouts.

The artists I studied for this project are as follows:
1. American artist Ellsworth Kelly (1923-2015)
2. American artist John McLaughlin (1898-1976)
3. American artist Lorser Feitelson (1898-1978)
4. American artist Helen Lundeberg (1908-1999)
5. American artist Karl Benjamin (1925-2012)
6. British artist Jeffrey Steele (1931)
7. Dutch artist Louis Reith (1983)
8. Australian artists Kristina Sostarko and Jason Odd of Inaluxe

The plates were made using 140-lb hot-press Fabriano watercolor paper, some of which were painted black, iridescent stainless steel, or interference red.











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Exploring Paper

Christmas Tree Popup Card Tutorial


This uniquely creative card is sure to impress with its classic simplicity. This mini Christmas tree pop-up gift card is the perfect accompaniment to any holiday gift. The finished card size is 3½” x 3½”. Have fun making it!


Project Pattern

You can download the project pattern here. The file includes 2 copies of the pattern on 1 sheet of paper. It is in pdf format, so you’ll need the Adobe Reader or a similar pdf reader to view the documents. You will also need a printer or some way to print the pattern on cardstock paper.


Materials You’ll Need

  • 8½” x 11″ white cardstock paper for the inner card
  • 3½” x 7″ colored cardstock paper, folded in half crosswise to make a 3½” x 3½” base card
  • X-acto knife with the standard #11 blade
  • craft or utility knife
  • steel ruler
  • cutting mat
  • glue stick
  • scrap paper to glue on

Lesson Video


This card is one of several pop-up cards featured in the Christmas Pop-up Card Workshop. If you enjoyed this project, I invite you to check out the online workshop! If you want to receive information on new tutorials, workshops, and special offers, please subscribe to my newsletter.


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Exploring Paper

Introductory Book Sculpture Lesson

In this lesson, 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.


Materials You’ll Need

Read this post to help you find the right book to use for this project. You may want to use a bone folder to help you make clean, crisp fold lines – but personally, I prefer to just use my fingers.


Video Tutorial


The Utzon Book Sculpture

I’ve provided the following diagrams to help you create the Utzon Book Sculpture as demonstrated in the video.


(1) To make the middle folds, follow Diagram A.


Diagram A


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


Diagram B


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


Diagram 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.



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Exploring Paper

Choosing the Right Book for a Book Sculpture Project

If you want to make your own book sculpture, here are some pointers to help you find the right book to use.

Book Size — You can use any size of book you want. I usually work with books ranging in size from 8″ x 11″ to 9″ x 12″. Hardcover fiction books generally fall in this size range. I may go smaller if I want to make mini keepsakes but I wouldn’t go any bigger. As the pages get wider, the depth of the book sculpture also increases. This may not be a problem if you’re displaying the book sculpture on a shelf or table top. But if you’re going to hang it on a wall, too much depth may become too awkward. But feel free to experiment! :)

Hardcover Types — When choosing a book to use, be mindful of the color of the hardcover and whether it is a solid color or two-toned. The hard cover acts as a visual frame for the book sculpture so it is important not to overlook this.


This are examples of two-toned hardcover books.


Book Binding — There are two kinds of book binding: sewn and glued. Books with glued binding are perfect for all the book sculpture projects. Some sewn-bound books are reinforced with glue and I often use this as well. Books that are simply sewn-bound are not really ideal to use. The pages in the signatures are not uniform in width and will not create consistent folds. (A signature, by the way, is a group of pages.) And since the pages are not glued to the spine, when you cut the pages, the narrow cut pages tend to become loose or wobbly — and it runs the risk of separating from the book.


In sewn-bound books, you’ll see the signatures along the spine.


If you look in the middle of the signatures in sewn-bound books, you’ll see the thread.


In other areas of the signature, still along the spine, you’ll see the notches where the thread is sewn.


This is an example of glued binding.


This is what glued binding looks like along the spine.


Use books that have strong binding, not books with pages that are falling apart. This should be obvious, but sometimes you have to double check by stretching the pages along the spine to make sure the glue on the spine is not brittle. If it is brittle, the book pages will most likely fall apart once you start folding. I’ve had a few experiences where I was almost done with the book sculptures when the folded pages started falling apart. If a whole block of pages comes off, it is easily remedied by applying hot glue along the spine. If individual pages start falling off one after the other, then it is more of a pain to fix — and often times, I just abandon that particular project.


Paper Thickness — Stay away from dictionary-thin pages. The thicker the page, the better — as long as it is still paperweight. It gives good volume and makes the book sculpture sturdy. Some old books have cardstock-weight pages. In my opinion, these pages are too thick to allow for any adjustments when folding. You’ll figure out the paper thickness you’re comfortable with as you start exploring different kinds of books.


Cracked Spines — Aside from indulging our creative impulses and producing artwork, a major objective of altered book art is to recycle and reuse old books that nobody wants to keep anymore. With this in mind, don’t easily dismiss books with cracks along the spine (as shown in the photo below). A lot of them are surprisingly still usable. The important thing is that the pages aren’t falling apart. You’ll be able to hide any cracks and gaps along the spine once the pages have been folded. And you’ll feel good knowing that you rescued a seemingly broken book from being thrown in a landfill.



Deckled Edges — I love books with deckled edges (as shown in the photo below) but they are not suitable for book sculptures because, with the uneven edges, it will be challenging to keep your folds consistent.



Non-fiction Books — I love using nonfiction books. I find that a lot of them have thicker paper than most fiction books, especially when compared to romance novel books. And they usually have a simple black hardcover, which I like. Some fiction books have glossy photo inserts like in the photo below. I don’t like mixing them with the other pages so I just tear them out from the book and I’m good to go. But feel free to include them, they will definitely add interest.



Where to Find Used Books

Now that you know what types of books to use for your book sculpture projects, it’s time to stock up on them. My favorite place to get used books is my local library bookstore. I usually get the books for $1 each. And a lot of times, I will find a few books I can use in the “free pile”. So if you haven’t visited your local library bookstore yet, now is the time to do so. You can also check out thrift stores and used bookstores if you’re not having any luck in your local library.



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Categories
Exploring Paper

Kusudama Flower Tutorial

Kusudama Origami is a type of Japanese paper folding. It involves folding several sheets of paper into identical modules. These modules are then assembled together to form a spherical structure. A completed kusudama ball usually consists of 60 paper modules. It was traditionally scented with incense or potpourri and used in Ancient Japan for medicinal purposes. Nowadays, it is simply used for decoration and makes a wonderful gift.

I suggest you watch the video at least once before starting on the project so you get a full picture of what is involved. When you’re ready to make one, remember not to stress. The project should be fun, relaxing, and even meditative! If you can’t finish it in one sitting, don’t fret about it. Set it aside, go about your other businesses, and pick it up once more when you’re ready to work on it again. Have fun with it!




I’d love to hear your thoughts. Email me your comments here.