Category : Tutorials

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

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

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:

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!

The envelope please…

Results of Polldaddy pollWell I feel silly because I can’t figure out how to close the PollDaddy poll within WordPress. Poop.

I officially declare that the poll is closed. I mean it. Don’t even try to vote now, even though I can’t stop you.

You have spoken and I will obey. Here’s the order of my posts starting next week:

  1. Dremel bits and what they do
  2. Paper and Book Intensive 2010
  3. Trip to the American Bookbinding Museum
  4. Book artists on Twitter – part 2
  5. New books on my bookshelf
  6. Peggy Skycraft and why she rocks
  7. Trip to the Taurus Bookbindery

I had to make a judgment call when there was a tie between two topics, so I put them in alphabetical order.

If anyone objects, I’d be happy to figure out some kind of blog post deathmatch.

For blog's sake, what do I do next?

I have a backlog of blog posts that has accumulated over the past 2 months.

Sometimes I get an idea for a post and start a draft, then something distracts me and I move on to a new topic. I need help figuring out where to start and I’m interested in hearing about what grabs your attention.

Here are the blog posts I have in my queue (these are working titles):

  1. Book artists on Twitter – part 2
  2. Dremel bits and what they do
  3. New books on my bookshelf
  4. Paper and Book Intensive 2010
  5. Peggy Skycraft and why she rocks
  6. Trip to the American Bookbinding Museum
  7. Trip to the Taurus Bookbindery

I plan to publish my posts based on the feedback I receive – most popular topic comes first.

Voting will be open until Friday, at which I point I will announce the post schedule.

If you have suggestions for any other blog topics, please let me know – I’m open to any comments you may have.

Note: The poll is now closed.

Tutorial: A-7 Pocket Folders

Finished A-7 pocket folderAs I promised yesterday, what follows are step-by-step directions on how to create your own A-7 pocket folders, similar in style to those for sale at Paper Source.

The pocket folders are perfect for use in DIY wedding invitations (I’ll show you my own finished invitations once the bride has mailed them out).

My tutorial is ideal for creating an A-7 pocket folder in a paper that better coordinates with your colors or theme. The Paper Source website has a tutorial available for download with ideas on how you can further embellish the folders.

In addition, there’s a significant cost savings in making them yourself. By making the pocket folders myself, I spent about $30.75 on materials (paper & adhesive) to assemble the folders (not including tax). Buying the folders pre-made would have cost me $92.25 (not including tax) – this is a significant savings.

Be forewarned this is not a fast process.

Not including the time it took me to figure out the measurements and process, it took about 4.75 hours to assemble 100 folders (that’s about 3 minutes per folder).

On a positive note, the process is pretty easy – so if you have more time than money, this could work for you. If you have eager bridesmaids, make a party of it!

Some notes before I begin:

  • Yes, my cutting mat really is that ugly.
  • I am not a great photographer.  I’m serious, these photos are not pretty. What can I say – I’m a bookbinder, not a photographer.
  • You’ll notice that the images include paper that changes from black to blue…that’s because I realized I forgot to take some key pics, so I had to make another pocket folder to get them.

So here we go!

    1. Cut a strip of paper measuring 16″ high x 6″ wide.
    2. Place the paper on your cutting mat so it is oriented in a horizontal manner.
    3. Measure 5.5″ in from the left side and make a vertical score line.
    1. Measure 3.5″ in from the right side and make a vertical score line.
    1. Place the paper on your cutting mat so it is oriented in a vertical manner, with the 3.5″ scored section at the top.
    1. Using a quilting ruler, measure 1/2″ in from the left side. Make a score line from the top of the paper to the score line, 3.5″ down.
    1. Using an X-Acto knife, cut from 3.5″ (right below the score line) down to the bottom of the paper.
    1. Rotate the paper so that the 5.5″ scored section is now at the top. Using a quilting ruler, measure 1/2″ in from the left side. Using an X-Acto knife, cut from the top of the paper to the 2nd score line, 12.5″ down.
    1. Using a bone folder, make a vertical score line from the 2nd score line (12.5″ down)  to the bottom of the paper.
    1. Cut the 1/2″ wide strips off of both sides of the paper.
    1. You should be left with a shape that looks like a narrow “T”, with the widest section at the top being 3.5″ high.
    1. Rotate the paper so that the wide part of the paper is at the bottom.
    1. Fold in the two side flaps, flattening them with a bone folder.
    1. Unfold the flaps and flip the paper over. Apply adhesive to the back of the flaps. I like roller adhesive because it’s quick and is dry on application.
    1. Make a diagonal cut on the tab from about 1/2″ below the score line to the score line. This will eliminate some of the bulk when you fold the tabs in to create the pocket.
    1. Flip the paper over. Tuck in the two side flaps press down on the edges of the pocket using a bone folder. I recommend using a teflon bone folder if you have one – it won’t leave shiny marks on your paper.
    1. Fold down the top flap to create the cover of the folder. Use the bone folder to press down on all of the folds, making them sharper and flatter.

That’s it! [she said after 17 steps]

Once you do it several times, it gets much easier. If you’re doing multiples, I recommend working on one step at a time on all of your pieces. It will not only save you time, but it will also help you make less mistakes.

I created a printer-friendly pdf of the directions for the pocket folder. If you do print it out, color printing works best. When I printed it out in black & white, the images became less clear.

I hope you find this tutorial is helpful and I’d love to hear feedback on how it worked for you.

Ohhhhh…and send me pics of things you make using the tutorial and I’ll post them on the blog!

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