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Flexagon tutorial

How to make a flexagonEver since I posted about my Improv flexagon book, I’ve received requests for directions on how to make one. I decided that it was time for me to contribute to the book arts community by making a tutorial.

This is a really cool structure that allows you to present visible and hidden content. You can see how the book works in a video at the end of this post. Trust me – it’s cool!

This is a different kind of flexagon than what you’ll find if you Google it. I can’t remember exactly who taught me this structure, but I’m pretty sure it was at a Book Arts Guild of Vermont meeting.

Many thanks to the mystery teacher!

Warning: This is an image heavy post.

Here’s what you need:

Tools:

  • Bonefolder
  • Scissors
  • X-Acto knife or scalpel
  • Metal ruler
  • Glue brush

Materials:

  • Page strip: 1 piece cover weight paper 6″ x 18 1/2″
  • End pages: 2 pieces cover weight paper 4 3/8″ x 6″
  • Cover boards: 2 pieces bookboard 6 1/4″ x 4 5/8″
  • Covering material: 2 pieces paper or bookcloth 7 3/4″ x 6 1/8″
  • Flexagon cards: 2 pieces cover weight paper 4 5/16″ x 6″
  • PVA

Directions:

Score the paper strip vertically ½” in from the left side and fold along the score line. Repeat on the right side.

Folded paper

Fold the strip in half.

Folded paper

Unfold.

Fold the left half of the strip by matching up the left folded end to the center fold. Repeat for the right side.

Folded paper

Unfold.

Open it up and fold the 2 ends together, with the center crease oriented towards you.

Folded paper

Cut 3 slits through the 2 center layers, evenly spaced 1.5″ inches apart, from the middle crease to the next fold line.

  • The measurements are as follows: 1.5” from the top of the paper; 3” from the top of the paper; 4.5” from the top of the paper

Folded and cut paper

Cover one side of the board with glue and place it centered on your paper or bookcloth.

Flip it over and smooth out the paper with your hand to help with adhesion. Press the paper down by rubbing the surface with a bone folder.

Bookboard glued on to bookcloth
Miter the corners of your paper. You should have approximately 2 board thicknesses of paper left on each corner. Do not cut it all the way to the edge!

Bookboard glued on to bookcloth with cut corners

Bookboard glued on to bookcloth with cut corners

Approximately 2 board thicknesses of material

Fold over 2 flaps, on opposite sides of the board, and glue them down.

Bookboard glued on to bookcloth with folded flaps

Pinch in the corners of your paper to neaten – this keeps the excess material from sticking out at your corners. It’s kind of like wrapping a present, except that you’re gluing everything down.

Pinched in bookcloth glued to bookboard

Glue down the remaining 2 flaps. Run your bone folder along all edges of the board to tighten.

Bookcloth glued to bookboard

Bookboard glued to bookcloth - corner

Glue the ½” tabbed ends of your strip to each of the boards, slightly brought in from the edge (1/8”). There should be an even margin around all four sides of the cover.

Paper glued to book cover

Paper glued to book cover

Flexagon handmade book without cards

Glue the end pages to the inside of your covers. The edge of each piece should be up against the inside edge of your flap. There should be an even 1/8″ margin around all four sides of the cover.

Lightly smooth out the paper with your hand, from the inside to the outside edges. Go over the paper with your bonefolder, targeting any air bubbles.

Paper glued to inside of book cover

Flexagon handmade book without cards

All done gluing!

At this point, you should put wax paper in between the strip and the covers and press your book under heavy weight overnight. This will help keep your covers from warping due to moisture from the glue.

When your book is dry, it’s time to add the flexagon cards.

Take a card and weave it through the slots of one of the flexagon panels (over, under, over, under).

Weaving paper

Take the second card and weave it through the opposite slots of the other flexagon panel (under, over, under, over).

Weaving paper

Once both cards are in place, your book will look like this:

Handmade flexagon book

All done!

To access the hidden section of the flexagon – if you are looking at the back page spread and push the two rear accordion folds toward the center so they meet, you can then peel apart the hidden section from the front.

If that doesn’t make sense, don’t worry – I made a video so you can see the book in action.

If you make a flexagon, take pictures of it and send them to me – I’d love to feature your work on my blog!

8 Responses to “Flexagon tutorial”

By Brea - 11 February 2014 Reply

This structure makes my brain hurt but your tutorial has the clearest instructions that I’ve seen. Well done!

By Elissa - 11 February 2014 Reply

Brea –

Trying to explain how the structure works makes my brain hurt. That’s why I made a video 🙂

Elissa

By amanda - 11 February 2014 Reply

Wow Elissa! I’ve never seen this type of flexagon before. This is a great tutorial. Thanks for putting the time in to making it.

By Elissa - 12 February 2014 Reply

Amanda –

My pleasure! Now you just have to make one. 🙂

Elissa

By Bertie - 12 February 2014 Reply

Thank you so much, I’m going to try and make one!

By Elissa - 12 February 2014 Reply

Bertie –

It’s a lot easier than the directions make it seem. If you don’t make one with a cover, it takes less time to make one than to read the tutorial.

Elissa

By storyin - 24 April 2015 Reply

Thanks for sharing ^_^

By Elissa - 24 April 2015 Reply

storyin-

My pleasure!

Elissa

So what do you think? I'd love to know!

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