Spiraling Pages

October 16, 2017



I’ve been playing around with spiraling paper, so when my teacher friend Lana asked me to recommend some books for her class to make, and mentioned something about a student wanting to do something with a spiral, this structure came to mind.

Spiraling pages made from copy paper, an old calendar, outdated map, and a pretty orange scrap

Spiraling pages made from copy paper, an old calendar, outdated map, and a pretty orange scrap

There’s many ways to go about making this, but, since I’m thinking about classroom-bookmaking, I featured regular copy paper in the video tutorial for this structure. Here’s the video:

It’s actually a really simple folding pattern. Using paper that’s has approximately a 1:6 ratio for the sides, I fold the paper into 8 equal parts, all valley folds, then divide each folded section in half with a diagonal mountain fold. Here’s what the folds look like:

The Folds before the Spiraling

The Folds before the Spiraling

The paper above is actually two pieces of copy paper joined together.

Spiraling Snake or Snaking Spiral?

Spiraling Snake or Snaking Spiral?

There are lots of ways to set up this structure.

Writing and Decoration on Spiraling pages

Writing and Decoration on Spiraling pages

The writing can be hidden within the spiral, revealed only when the twist is undone, or it can show on the parts that aren’t hidden.

Side view of a Spiral Book

Side view of a Spiral Book

It can also be cajoled into taking on this form with a skinny middle. You’ll have to watch the video (or experiment) to see how to tease out this shape.

Spiral Book

Spiral Book

These take only a few minutes to make. The main points to keep in mind are to make accurate folds, make sharp, well creased folds, and make sure all the vertical folds are valley folds and the diagonals are mountain folds. Be patient when folding the paper into a spiral the first time. After the first time it will close easily if you twist the book in the correct direction as you compress the spiral; you’ll be able to tell if you are not twisting in the right direction by its failure to close.

For the rest of the handmade books that recommended to Lana, see my the post Four Books Students Can Figure Out How to Make on Their Own. This post Four Simple Pamphlet Bindings is a good one, too, but it doesn’t have many pictures.

I hope Lana sends me photos if her students make any of these structures!

For years, until she retired, I worked with an enthusiastic classroom teacher named Anna who loved seeing her students make books. Instead of teaching bookmaking skills she created a bookmaking corner in her classroom that included a little display of books that I had taught her how to make. These books were accompanied by written directions and a stack of paper. Anna’s third grade students had a great time making books independently.

Last week I received a note from Lana, a teacher in Canada who I follow and who always has insights that I value. Here’s what she wrote:

I started a personal history project with my kids today, with  the big idea that our histories are different but we learn about each other because we are a community. Students start with creating a personal history of 5-10 important events in their lives. What if I open it a bit and let kids work with paper in 3 dimensions? Someone wants a line, someone else a book, a spiral, a tree, a flexagon?

I was wondering if there are some formats that you could recommend that don’t require too much pre-teaching. Ideally kids can follow template/video.

Origami books made from a multiple folded papers, to create a Star Book and a Cascading Book, aka Origami Caterpillar Book

Origami books made from a multiple folded papers, to create a Star Book and a Cascading Book, aka Origami Caterpillar Book

Thinking about Anna’s bookmaking corner, I want to suggest a few books to Lana.

I decided to take this opportunity to finally get around to creating the StarBook/Cascading Book tutorial (at the top of this post) with video accompaniment:

This modular origami book can be tricky, but it is totally doable, The folding needs to be done precisely, folds need to be sharp, and it’s important to pay attention to the orientation of the modules as they get glued together.

Fact is though, that it looks tricker than it is. It’s a structure I highly recommend because it’s so dynamic.

Bookmaking by Paula Beardell Krieg

The next book I want to highlight is the Origami Pamphlet. This is the #1 book that I would like every person in the world to know how to make. Here’s the link to my post https://bookzoompa.wordpress.com/2009/11/30/how-to-make-an-origami-pamphlet 

Another set of these directions that I like belongs to Tim Winkler, and can be viewed at http://pictureengine.net/?p=7960

Mike Lawler made a 24 second video -Voila!- showing a piece of paper transform into the origami pamphlet  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=APfeGF0HqvY 

Books made from one or two pieces of paper

The biggest problem with the origami pamphlet is that if you’re using regular copy paper, the book will be rather small,  If this bothersome there are two good variations that result in a larger book (other than just finding a larger sheet of paper):

You can link two of the structures together with a rubber band. That’s what’s going on with the lilac/blue booklet above. Well, I guess it’s not actually a larger book, it’s just longer.

Making a larger origami pamphlet by linking two halves together

Two Book Bases linked together to make an origami pamphlet

A way make a larger origami pamphlet is to use two sheets of paper to make two halves, then attach them together (use glue, tape, paper clips, staples? whatever ) like in the photo above.  I call this half-or-an-origami pamphlet a book base.

An advantage of making a book this way is that, if composition paper is used, the lines will be going in the correct direction for writing on.

There are so many fabulous inventive book structures students can make, but sometimes it’s great to just fold a bunch of papers in half, secure them together, and be done with it. The problem here is that it is not obvious how to secure the pages together. A doable no-needle way to sew pages together in a classroom setting is to use a bit of string or yarn to do a modified pamphlet stitch.

Modified Pamphlet Stitch

Modified Pamphlet Stitch

There you have it, four books:

  • the Star Book,
  • the Cascading Book,
  • the Origami Pamphlet (with two variations) and
  • the Modified Pamphlet Stitch book

Lana’s note mentions a spiral. I’ve been playing with some spiraling pages lately, and I have something wonderful that I want to share, but the spiral deserves its own post: which will hopefully show up here in the near future.



Saw this post written by someone whose writing I’ve enjoyed for years. It fits so well with my post from two weeks ago, Courting Inspiration, that I couldn’t resist reblogging it here.

Written by Steve Morris:

I’ve never thought of myself as a confident person. Yet sometimes people ask me where I get my confidence from, so I must be projecting the illusion of confidence at some level. I don’t feel confident right now. I feel vulnerable.

via Where does confidence come from? — Blog Blogger Bloggest


Susan Joy Share

I’ve gotten stalled mentioning this interview because I wasn’t comfortable with just writing “Listen to this interview.” So silly. I’m over it.

Listen to this interview! http://www.bookbindingnow.com/search/label/Susan%20Joy%20Share

You’ll hear Susan and me talking to each other on the porch of the Book Arts studio at Penland in North Carolina, about a month ago.

Also, here’s the link to the video that I reference during the interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V-gdMzZdLm0

Thanks, Susan Mills, for, so far,  posting 123 interviews at Bookbinding Now.



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