Book Art · Box · origami

Terra Cotta and Green

Variations on Chinese Thread Book
two more Variations on Chinese Thread Book

My thought was that I would make a model based on the Chinese Thread Book, then make variations of said model using different papers. Turns out that using different papers resulted in creating many more questions than I anticipated. My next few posts will be showing how these questions got answered, one Zhen Xian Bao at a time.

Zhen Xian Bzo variation in Terra Cotta and Green
Zhen Xian Bao variation in Terra Cotta and Green

Whereas my previous thread-book-variation has a romantic feel to in, this one feels earthy to me, like it’s meant for keeping track of seeds, gardens, and planting/harvesting info. The green print is Chiyogami paper from The Paper Place, and the solid green on the left is Neeneh Classic Linen Cover, Augusta Green.

Variation of Chinese Thread Book in Green and Terra Cotta, Paula Beardell Krieg
Variation of Chinese Thread Book in Green and Terra Cotta

The pamphlet on the left is constructed with a five-station pamphlet stitch using waxed linen thread. The book block is Mohawk Superfine. The second tier box on the right is machine-made paper infused with flower petals.


Both the pamphlet and the rectangular trays fold away to reveal a big rectangular tray as the bottom layer, made with handmade paper from India. You can also see in this photo a sleeve made from Metallic Stardream paper. underneath the second tier try.


Inside the pamphlet is a small envelope that expands into….


…a little box.


Unlike my Indigo, Gold and Red version, I didn’t use the Chiyogami paper for the outside wrapper. I tried out lots of options, but this handmade terra cotta paper purchased long ago from Dieu Donne Papermill was the best choice. I still have just a bit of this paper left, so I can continue using this for a few more wraps, but just a few. It’s hard for me to use up a paper that I may never see again, but I remind myself that I have it so that I can use it.

It takes awhile to assemble these thread books, but what has taken me the longest is to mix and match my papers until I am happy –and I demand to be really happy– with my paper choices. I try to let the papers I start with suggest the rest of the paper choices.  Since this part takes so long, I am trying to make at least two of each paper/color combination, in an attempt to do at least a bit of streamlining.

One surprising discovering is realizing how well Stardream Metallics match the Chirogami. I’ll be showing more of this match in the next post, which, by the way, will feature a thread book that has a suede wrapper.  I didn’t see that coming, but it’s what worked. I feel like I’m just the messenger…

how to construct Zhen Xian Bao · Uncategorized · Zhen Xian Bao

Zhen Xian Bao Post 4: the second layer box

Left: the closed twist box on the second layer box, Right” the open twist box

Finally I am getting to writing about he next second box of the Chinese Thread Book/ Zhen Xian Bao.

For the record, here are  links to  my previous posts on the Zhen Xian Bao, and to my Pinterest board, which contains sources that I’ve studied:

Zhen Xian Bao, Intro & Examining proportions

Starting with the Finished Size

Top Layer, Twist Box

Zhen Xian Bao Pinterest Board

The Second Layer Box, which echoes most of the fold of the origami Masu Box

I know exactly why it has taken my so long to write about this second layer of the Zhen Xian Bao. This box is basically a Masu Box, something that I’ve been making for many years, but that I had never gotten the hang of teaching. I didn’t want to make a post until I figured out how to communicate that step that everyone trips up on.

This is the where the construction of the box get hard to explain

If you have ever tried to teach this structure to someone you know exactly what I’m talking about. Everything goes just swell until it’s time to make the sides. This is the when I lose all my students…BUT! I’m here to say that I have figured out a way of approaching this step in a way that makes way more sense than I ever thought possible.

There are two key changes I’ve made in my demonstration that make all the difference.

The Folded Paper Grid

First, and don’t roll your eyes and absolutely do not skip this step: I start with making folds that turn my square piece of paper into a 4 x 4 grid.

Bringing the arrowed points together makes origami seem like magic

Second, when I get to this dreaded step, instead of folding up the two opposite wall of the box as is suggested in like, every set of directions that exist, bring together the two corners that I’ve marked in the photo above.

One action creates three sides of the box!

What happens next is like origami magic. As those points come together, the structure stands up and, with the slightest bit of nudging, three sides are formed at once.

Oh. if you haven’t tried to make or teach this box already, none of this will make sense to you. Which is  a good thing, because you may be spared the experience of totally mind numbing self-esteem draining bewilderment.

I haven’t made a tutorial page just yet. That will come later. But here’s a video. Go for it!