Ever 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!
Many thanks to the mystery teacher!
Warning: This is an image heavy post.
Here’s what you need:
- X-Acto knife or scalpel
- Metal ruler
- Glue brush
- 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″
Score the paper strip vertically ½” in from the left side and fold along the score line. Repeat on the right side.
Fold the strip in half.
Fold the left half of the strip by matching up the left folded end to the center fold. Repeat for the right side.
Open it up and fold the 2 ends together, with the center crease oriented towards you.
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
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.
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!
Fold over 2 flaps, on opposite sides of the board, and glue them down.
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.
Glue down the remaining 2 flaps. Run your bone folder along all edges of the board to tighten.
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.
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.
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).
Take the second card and weave it through the opposite slots of the other flexagon panel (under, over, under, over).
Once both cards are in place, your book will look like this:
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!