This is how I wonder.

After learning the folds of the stacking boxes of the Zhen Xian Bao, then making them out of precious papers, making careful, deliberate decisions slowly, I’m ready to become more familiar with this structure. The way I do this is to just hang out with it.

To me, hanging out with structure means folding everything I can get my hands on using all the folds that I know, and learning some new ones too. This way I get to explore how each paper works out for me, I get to ask different questions of the structure, and see what happens when I release control of the many decisions.

Wondering about Chinese Thread Book 2


Along the way new question occur to me, I develop preferences, and interesting materials seem to find their way to me.  The more I do the more questions I have. I have a long way to go here, but wanted to share this part of the journey.





As I continue to make Chinese Thread Books, I’m finding that I am beginning to develop preferences. Already, I find that I like Chiyogami paper for  the first layer box, a delicate, subtle paper for the second layer box, Stardream Metallic for the pamphlet and hidden sleeve. Now, after trying out the silky Japanese Asahi bookcloth for the cover, well, I’m hooked.

Chinese Thread Book, Zhen Xian Bao,, by Paula Krieg

This mostly red Chirogami pattern is not something that generally would catch my eye to use and buy, but I just loved the details of the patterns in the spheres. The toughest part of using it was finding papers to go with it.


So detailed and beautiful, but does not play well with others.


After much searchinger around, here’s what worked for my eye: Gold Stardream for the pamphlet cover, embellished with Stardream Metallic Quartz and random Chiyogami circles. Second layer box is a soft paper embedded with flowers.

Chinese Thread Book, Zhen Xian Bao,, by Paula Krieg

Pinwheel Twist box inside the pamphlet

Chinese Thread Book, Zhen Xian Bao,, by Paula Krieg

Gold Dragonfly paper for the big box, to which I’ve added a few golden starbursts.

Chinese Thread Book, Zhen Xian Bao,, by Paula Krieg

All wrapped up in Asahi bookcloth.


This continues my posts about assembling different structures based on the Chinese Thread Book, using different papers. I had thought I was going to be doing the same thing over and over again, with no variations other than using papers with different colors and patterns, but it hasn’t worked out that way.wp-1484682930002.jpg

Here’s where I started using the Stardream Metallic for the cover of the pamphlet on the left. More and more I’m liking how the Stardream paper matches the Chiyogami printed papers.  Notice the style of the little box inside of the pamphlet. After trying out many variations I absolutely loved this little twist box with the pinwheel top.

Pinwheel-top Twist box for Chinese Thread Book, PaulaKrieg

Pinwheel-top Twist box

I think it’s something about the pattern of the Chiyogami paper that made other style box I’ve been making look, well, not so good. Am so pleased to have stumbled upon this way of making the twist box.


Here’s the pinwheel-top box, twisted open.


The second layer rectangular tray is made from a soft handmade paper from India. Underneath the tray is a sleeve made of Stardream paper, which matches the pamphlet.


Big box layer is another handmade paper, but not sure where it was made. I have a stash of this from a place that Elisa Campbell wrote about, Creative Papers, which, sadly, is no longer is business.


The biggest surprise for me was the choice I ended making for the cover of this Thread Book. I tried matching the book with other Chirogami papers, with handmade papers from Dieu Donne and elsewhere. I tried my (faux!) elephant hide paper, and tried matching it with all sorts of cloth.  Then I tried it out with this piece of suede, and it just snapped together. I never thought I use this suede for anything, but it seemed perfect for this project.

I just love how I get to use all these odds and ends of materials!

What’s different, besides the suede, about this particular piece is that it doesn’t suggest a use to me. The first one of this group that I wrote about seems like a valentine waiting to happen, the one after that feels like a gardener’s journal, and the next one I will be writing about feels like a holiday journal. But this one isn’t telling me what it needs to be. Hope someone else can figure it out.

Chinese Thread Book

Chinese Thread Book

This post is the continuation of examining the parts of the Chinese Thread Book, the Zhen Xian Bao.  Each level of expandable parts has its own characteristics. I’m going to be writing about what I call the Big Box, which is the most interior layer of the book.

On my Zhen Xian Bao Pinterest board you can see other ways people have chosen to make this layer box. Mostly what I’ve seen has not set right with me because the big box layer seems too deep. There’s no reason for this interior box to have so much volume, as it can only store a limited amount of flattish items.

Also, from what I’ve seen, the larger boxes are generally made from templates that aren’t particularly elegant. This does seem to be echoing the traditional way of making this structure, but I think something’s been lost in translation. In any case, what intrigues me most about the Zhen Xian Bao is that, at its basic level, the structure seems to ask the maker to modify each decision about the making, according to the whims of the maker and the materials that are being used.

Using thin papers to make the Zhen Xian Bao

Using thin papers to make the Zhen Xian Bao

I like using thin, strong papers to make the Chinese Thread book, but there are reasons to use a heavier paper,and heavier papers seem to beg a different way of working.  Most of the images in this post show heavier paper, which are paste papers done by my friend Julie. Julie gifted me many wonderful studio supplies when she moved out of state, so I wanted to make a Zhen Xian Bao for her, using some papers decorated by her own hand. However, the tutorial video below shows the big box layer using more lightweight papers, like the ones I used in my previous post.

What I will be doing here in the written part of this post is highlighting the generalized measurements for starting the big box, then I’ll show how I’ve made some workflow modifications, which are not in the video,  but which will accommodate  heavier paper.

length measurement for big box

length measurement for big box

Okay, I just have to say that I absolutely loved figuring out how to determine the dimensions for the size of paper that for the big box. It took many sessions of trial and error, and I knew that I was searching for an elegant, self-referencing set of measurements, but it kept eluding me. When I discovered the secret it seemed so obvious, like why didn’t I see that immediately. So satisfying. What’s going on here is that I will be making the big box layer in the same was as the hidden box layer, with one major difference: instead of starting with a square, I start with a rectangle.

The width of the rectangle is measured by marking four widths of the hidden layer box, PLUS enough to create a middle space so that the book closes, plus a little more.  You can see that space in the top photo. For the thinner papers I’m finding that 1 1/4″ extra works fine. For the thicker papers, I tacked on 1 1/2″ but the idea is to figure out how thick your book is going to be, then use this measurement plus about another 1/4″. The measurement you come up with  depends entirely on what you’ve determined the depth of your finished book will be.

Height of the paper for the big box

Height of the paper for the big box

The height of the paper for the big box is more straight forward. Take your hidden layer box and expand  it from the top and bottom. This height, plus an extra 1/4″, will be the height of the rectangle. Now construct the box according steps in the above video, then unfold everything because we need to cut away some bulk from the folded corners.

Big box, in progress, unfolded

Big box, in progress, unfolded

Here’s where I can’t help myself. Time to stop and admire all the beautiful geometry going on here. Snap out of it. Start snipping, but, just in case you missed this inference, this snipping only has to be done with heavier papers. The lightweight papers can stay intact.

Snipping the corners

Snipping the corners

I’ve snipped away the corner triangle, then check out the logic of the rectangle-plus-triangle snip. The fact is, the reason I’m doing it this way doesn’t become clear until it’s time to assemble the box. And it’s one of those things that is totally cumbersome to explain but obvious when you are actually doing it.


Prepping the Big Box paper

Here’s all four corners cut. I will be refolding this so it looks like I’ve cut nothing away.


Folding the box together

Again, this part is easier to see while are doing it. Trying to explain in words would be frightening. Note the glue. It won’t go together without glue.

Big Box, done

Big Box, done

Here it is, reassembled. Looks just like the hidden layer box, only wider.  It’s depth echoes the depth of the hidden layer box, which is also the depth the masu box, and the twist box.  A perfect math for a perfect match.

The PiecesI’m going to show the finishing of this book, just because I can. I chose to make the cover from a single piece of Julie’s paper. I cut the size bigger than I wanted the finished cover to be so as to leave room to turn in the edges.

img_0652After tuning in the edges I glue paper over the part of the paper that will show when the book is open.





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