Kids laugh when I sheepishly announce that I am going to teach them how to fold a piece of paper in half.

The older the person, the happier they are with this activity. .

It’s one of those things that everything that can go wrong does go wrong.

It seems nearly impossible to get to line up the edges of the paper. Then once they line up, they shift. You adjust.

You press down on the paper; it shifts.

You thought it looked good then it doesn’t.


This video is one minute and twenty-eight seconds about folding paper in half well.  I say everything twice because it’s all worth repeating.

Happy folding!


A question that I got on twitter was about folding a square on the diagonal. Here’s a wordless video to answer the question. It’s really the same steps as above, just slightly modified.

The things to keep in mind are to use two fingers as a backstop near the corners that you are trying to match. Slide the paper until it’s in place, then HOLD TIGHT with one hand, while sliding across the paper towards the fold, with the other hand.

…and why am I doing this?

January 30, 2018

shapes on a mirror

Space filling shapes: the Weaire-Phelan structure 

I avoid the question “why am I doing this?” The question never serves me well. Seems like the reason I am doing it will reveal itself when it’s good and ready.

My current favorite example of this is about a little black book . It started out because I have so many pieces of this gorgeous black paper that I wanted to do something with.

This little book has three signature, with three flaps, sewn with continuous thread, using a single piece of paper for the cover. This is not typical. Sewing two signatures on to a flap is something more common. It was something that I wanted to work out. It took many days of tying this and that, until I was satisfied. I eventually gifted one copy away, used one for notes, and the others sit on my shelf along with so many other little books. As I was laboring over this little gem, it did cross my mind that I was spending a huge amount of time on something that I couldn’t justify as worthwhile, but I banished that thought as quickly as I could.


This past summer I grabbed one of these little black books and tossed it in with the very small number of items I brought with me to Penland School of Crafts (where I would be assisting Susan Joy Share in teaching a book and box making class). In a conversation with Henrik Drescher, who was teaching in the drawing studio, he said he had been trying to work out a simple sewing for a 3 signature book sewn on three flaps with a continuous piece of thread, but hadn’t come up with anything that he liked, and wondered if I had any ideas about it.

It took me about a half-hour to realize that what he was asking for described, exactly, the only sewn book I had brought with me from home.

I taught Henrik and another bookbinder how to go about doing this sewing, which turned out to be such fun time that I’m laughing as I think about it. Certainly, this reinforced my belief to just following my curiosity and instincts.

Which brings to me how I spent my weekend with shapes.

Irregular dodecahedron

Irregular dodecahedron

Vincent Pantaloni tagged me on a thread about space-tiling that referenced the Wearie-Phelan structure, along with a link to a page which offered a download of the templates (aka the nets ) for the units that make up the structure


I had been feeling like I wanted more practice making solids of out paper. After reading the awesome Books, Boxes and Portfolios by Franz Zeier where he, in meticulous detail, writes about creating solids from nets, I’ve begun to appreciate how practicing this could be helpful to me in a global way, in the way that practicing scales helps with piano playing. For more about this book, take a look at Cathryn Miller’s post

gluing down only 1/8 inch of a tab

Worth Reading, Books, Boxes and Portfolios by Franz Zeier


Each of the Wearie-Phelan units took at least 25 minutes to make. I made eleven of them. After the first three, I decided they should be made out our bubble paper, so I decorated papers with bubble.


Bubble papers

Bubble paper

It’s generally a good sign if the process pleases me as much as the result.

tetrakaidecahedron (truncated hexagonal trapezohedron)

almost closed

I really liked the funny shape of the box before I glued down the final flap. (Note my GREAT needle point glue injector? My current favorite tool.)

So I got to practice making shapes, I got be involved in a day of play with my on-line community (above is Mike Lawler’s preview of these shapes he is creating with his 3D printer) and I got to be part of a lively conversation that Jen Silverman somehow elevated to the level of hot dog packing…


…and today, quite unexpectedly, I am thinking of some wonderful ways to continue doing some cool things with this shape.

The point of this post to keep reminding myself not to listen to those voices that would have me justify my explorations.


A Square of Your Own

January 21, 2018

Squares, scaled

Squares, scaled

Making a plain old square exactly the size that you want can be such a chore. Too much can go wrong.

Squares can become so many different things (think ALL origami) that it’s worth knowing how to make a square just the size you want without getting stressed out.

Here’s how to do it, via the photo essay, followed by the video tutorial.

plain piece of copy paper

plain piece of copy paper

Here’s a regular piece of copy paper. The first steps look like I’m heading towards folding a square whose side is already predetermined by the short edge of the paper, but no. Be patient. This is going to be a surprise. Trust me.

First Step

First Step

Fold that short edge to meet the long edge, making sure that your fold ends (or starts) exactly at that corner. What you are doing here is bisecting that corner angle. If you cut away that rectangular flap on the edge, and unfold the triangle you’d have a square, but this isn’t what we are doing now. (Doing that was a different post, )

Marking the size of the new square

Marking the size of the new square

Unfold the fold then make a mark to indicate size of the square you want to make.



What I’m going to write next sounds horribly complicated but it’s easy to see and do.

Curl over that corner that has the fold going through it, lining up that corner point with the fold line it is leaning towards, and also lining up the upper edge of the paper with that mark you made. Press the fold.

Here’s a closer to look:

Closer Look

Closer Look

Now draw a line that traces around that folded down corner.

Time to cut out the square

Time to cut out the square

There’s your square!

Confused? Here’s a video to watch:

Got it?

Now make cool stuff.

Addendum: here’s a post that shows what I showed, plus another great way of making a square.

Valentine Angels

January 20, 2018

Valentine Girl

Now for something completely different.

Valentine angels.

Valentine Angel 1

Valentine Angel 1

Been making these with Valentines Day in mind.

Five Valentine Angels

Five Valentine Angels

Most of these little sketches fail completely. But sometimes they don’t. I’m just putting up the ones that I like.

Angel full of love

Angel full of love

Early for Valentine’s Day, never too early to spread around some love.

Colorful Valentine Angel

Colorful Valentine Angel

Thinking of my daughter while I draw these, while she is enjoying her semester in London.



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