A friend of mine was demonstrating how to make squash books and I thought – hey, I make those too but in much smaller form. I have made a few mini squash books but generally I make these as folded paper ornaments
Pictured above: the scrapbook when closed
It’s a simple paper folding technique. If you make them small enough, they open out into pretty little star-like ornaments. Make them a bit bigger and you can use them for scrapbooks/photo albums/journals. The nice thing about them is that they will fold down flat again so they’re easy to slip inside a greeting card as an extra little gift for someone special. Another nice thing about these is that they are ideal crafts to work on while travelling. If you pre-cut the paper before you go, then all you have to do is take a baggie of paper squares, a glue stick, and some pieces of ribbon with you and you can fold up a bunch of these along the way. If you make a scrapbook sized one on the way, then when you get there you can glue in souvenirs of your trip as lovely memento to take home with you or to leave behind as a hostess gift if you’re staying with friends or relatives.
Pictured above: the inside of the scrapbook
The materials you’ll need for this project are: paper (see notes below in the tutorial), scissors, a paper cutter if you’re cutting the pieces yourself, glue stick, narrow ribbon, and if making the books, you’ll need whatever it is you want to put on the pages of the book or any embellishments you want to add. Adding some rubber stamping to the book or ornament can be really nice too. You may need a different type of glue (a liquid glue of some sort) as opposed to the glue stick to glue down some of your embellishments. Note: if you’re making the ornaments, I find it doesn’t work to add most kinds of embellishments to them. It makes them too heavy to open out properly into the star-like shape (looks kind of lop-sided and warped). I usually stick to painting or rubber stamping on them. I would imagine that some really light embellishments like little sequins or a light dusting of glitter or things like that would probably work as they would barely add any weight at all. If you want to add glued on embellishments to your ornaments, I strongly suggest you make a sample one. Nothing worse than doing up 25 of them and then finding out they don’t work!
Pictured above: The ornament when opened up into its star-like shape.
You begin with perfectly square pieces of paper. You can cut the paper yourself or do as I am in this tutorial and use Origami paper which is already cut for you. I’ve never worked with anything smaller than a 2 inch square of paper (which is what the ornaments shown here are made from) nor have I ever used anything bigger than a 6 inch square of paper (the pink scrapbook is made from 5 inch paper and the orange/yellow one is from 6 inch paper). You can’t use a super thin lightweight paper like a tissue paper because it won’t hold the star-like shape of the ornament when it’s opened up (you need some good crisp creases in the paper) and I doubt that they would hold up to repeated folding and opening. You also can’t use something as thick as cardstock or some of those super thick scrapbooking papers because they just won’t crease nicely. When I taught this technique to my students in a school setting, we used the construction paper that was right on hand and it worked quite well. I’ve also made them from magazine pages (we have a couple magazines up here that are really thin and tear easily but certainly the paper in National Geographic or Oprah’s O magazine will work – experiment with yours!), scrapbooking papers, pages from books and sheet music, paper shopping bags, envelopes, and more.
Pictured above: the square of paper I’m beginning with.
Before I go into the folding technique,let me just clarify for you what I mean by “right side” and “wrong side” of the paper. The right side is what will show on the inside of the scrapbook (forming the pages inside of it) or what will show on a side view of the ornament (the blue parts of the ornament below). It’s up to you to decide which side of your paper you want as the right and wrong sides but I’ll be referring to these terms as we begin folding. For the purposes of this tutorial, I am using the orange side as the right side and the plain white as the wrong side. For the first fold, you want to lay the paper in front of you right side up and fold it in half horizontally right sides together. Make a really good crease. You can use a bone folder if you have one or your finger nail.
Unfold your paper.
Fold it in half again, right sides together, but this time vertically.
Unfold your paper. You should have two fold lines showing – one vertical, one horizontal that meet and cross in the middle forming a + (plus) sign.
Flip your paper over so that it’s now right side down.
Fold your paper again, this time diagonally with wrong sides together.
Unfold your paper. Now you have a diagonal line meeting and crossing the other two lines in the middle.
What I do now is to let the folds that I’ve created in the paper fall into place. It’s easiest if you lay the paper diagonally in front of you now (so that it would look like a diamond rather than a square if it were laying flat) and help the folds along by putting your fingers on each side where the diagonal fold is and gently pushing in.
As this falls into its shape, you want to give all the folds another good pressing down so that the creases are as sharp and crisp as you can get them.
Now you just need to make more of these folded shapes to put together for your ornament or book. How many of these you need is dependent on whether you are creating an ornament or a book, the thickness and size of the paper you’re using, and in the case of the book, whether you plan to use any bulky embellishments on the pages or not. You can’t stack too many of these “pages” (by page I mean one of the folded shapes) together if you’re making an ornament. If you do, when you try to open it up, it won’t form the pretty star-like shape because it will be too crowded. For example, on the ornament that I’ve done here out of 2 inch square paper, 6 of the pages put together made it open up perfectly. In the pink book that I made, I was able to use 10 of them and still leave some room for some bulky embellishments. Experiment with the paper and size you’re using to see what works best for you. To put the pages together , you are basically stacking them on top of each other when folded down flat. I find glue stick (Aleene’s is my favourite, UHU if I don’t have Aleene’s on hand) works the best – it adheres well and doesn’t make it get too soggy or wrinkled. The thing you need to remember is to stack all the folded papers in the same direction so that they all open up in the same way.
Once your book or ornament is glued together, you’ll want to add the ribbons. The ribbons are used as a closure for both the book and ornament and in the case of the ornament, they are used as a hanger as well. For the ornament here, I used 2 pieces of ribbon each about 12 inches long for the closure and for the book, I used 2 pieces of ribbon about 16 inches long. You may not need pieces as long as mine. I have a permanent injury in my one hand so tying ribbons can sometimes be a bit of a challenge and it’s easier for me if they are longer and form bigger bows. For these ribbons, you simply glue one on the top cover and one on the bottom cover of the book or ornament. There’s no specific measurement of far onto the cover you need to glue them but I generally do them about halfway. The main point is to put them on far enough so that they will hold securely. And yes,I find glue stick works just fine for putting on the ribbon as well. When the book or ornament is all folded up (closed), you tie the two ribbons together to hold it shut. You’ll see that I left the ribbons showing because I wanted you to be able to see where I had put them but if you don’t like that look, you can certainly cut a square of paper or something similar and cover them.
In the case of the ornament, the ribbons not only hold it shut when it’s folded up (closed) but they also hold it open when it’s opened up into it’s star-like shape. You simply open the ornament up so that the front and back cover touch and tie the ribbon to hold it in that position. The ribbons are long enough so that you can then also tie them once more into a bow that will act as a hanger for the ornament.
There is another option for the ornament. I didn’t show this on Cool2Craft because it added extra steps and I would have gone over my allotted time but it is my preferred option for the ornament. With this variation, you still attach the two ribbons to the front and back covers because you still need something to act as a closure. However, these ribbons DON’T function as the hanger as well. For the hanger, I cut a small piece of ribbon (I used one about 1 1/2 inches for these ornaments) and glue it to a page in the middle of the book.
If you want it to be more hidden, you can put this ribbon sandwiched in between two pages as you are initially gluing the folded pieces together to make the book/ornament in the first place.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact me by leaving a comment here on the blog. I’d be glad to help you in any way I can. And if you make some of these, I’d love to see pictures of them!