November 20

November 20: Weblog Birthday, Six Years

Dolls by Angela
Dolls by Angela, age 6-ish

This blog became public six years ago today. I had been writing in secret for a while, trying to get the hang of WordPress, before first hitting the Publish Public setting. To celebrate, I’m posting photos of work done by each member of my little family, and pointing out my most visited pages.

Birthday Bird, by John
Birthday Bird, by my son John

The images on my blog that have gotten the most clicks are:

How to Make an Origami Pamphlet : 3750 clicks.  My number one favorite book to makes has the most clicks. This elegant little structure is known also know as a  zine, hot dog booklet, eight page pamphlet as well as by many other names.

Origami Pocket Tutorial:  3647 clicks.  This is slightly different from an origami cup because it is sized to hold a little book.

Modified Pamphlet Stitch Booklet:  3006 clicks.  A good structure to make when needle and thread seems too cumbersome.

How to Make a Six-Sided Snowflake from a Paper Napkin: 2859 clicks. I made this image quickly one evening after trying to explain how to do this on the phone to my good friend Cynthia in Minnesota. There are so many tutorials on how to make a snowflake that I never thought mine would rise to the towards the top of google search results, but it has!

Decorated Box by my husband
Box decorated by my husband

My most visited posts are:

‘Tis the Season to Make Paper Snowflakes    34,689 visitors. These views are mostly seasonal.

Elementary Nature Printing   17,198 visitors. I think it’s Pinterest that drives views to this page.

How to Make a Paper Spring  14,164 visitors. There’s not much competition on search engines for this structure. Even so, I think that the tutorial page on this post is one of my best and I doubt anyone will make one that’s better. Blush.

How to Make an Origami Pamphlet  13,674 visitors. This post, by the way, was published 10 days shy of six years ago. Nearly everyday this post is visited. Yesterday it got 16 views.

The remains on the inside of a Conch Shell, egg tempra, by me, today.
The remains on the inside of a Conch Shell, egg tempera, by me, today.

So, that’s it, my six-year wrap up. Next year maybe I will write about my own favorite posts. Thanks for visiting. It means the world to me to know you’ve stopped by.

8 1/2" x 11" Book Making · zine

Double-Wide Zine

Double Wide Zine, made with two pieces of copy paper The point of my last post Stuffed Grape Leaves was to start to create content for a small black-and-white-copy-machine zine. If you’re wondering what a “zine” is, well, you’re not alone.  There doesn’t seem to be any clear consensus on the definition of zine, but, happily, there doesn’t seem to be any debate about it either: just discussions and conjectures. An enjoyable read about this is on the Brooklyn College Zine site .  I also like what the New York Public Library has to say on the subject. Personally, I think of a zine as a book made on a copy machine from a single sheet of paper, which is then folded into book form.getting pages ready for a zine There’s so much that I wanted to put in this little book that I decided it needed to be made out of two sheets of standard size copy paper. I grabbed content, as well as some of the comments, from my last post, and added in a bit more. Stuffed Grape Leaf Zine in progress The two pages had to be laid back-to-back and glued along one edge. It’s easy to glue them together wrong, so I made put dotted lines, which define where the paper is cut, in the part that will be the middle of the book. This proved to be a good landmark for me. If you look close you can see the dotted line above the word Stuffed.  The photo at the top of this post show what the pages look like after being glued together.close up of zine in progress Here’s a close up of the dotted line and the second page, still barely visible, and it disappears completely when the cut is made. Zine in progress Next, the pages are flipped over, and the edges are folded towards the center. Zine closer to being done Flipped over again, cut on the dotted line… stuffed-9---Copy …then opened into an open book that needs to be closed. One again, here’s a link to a whole collection of directions on how to do this.  Stuffed Grape Leaves zine Okay, so I made a bunch of these. It felt good. But then I happened to come across an itty bitty book by David Massengill, that Sarah, from Caffe Lena, had given to me after David had performed at Lena. (BTW, if you click on David’s link his music will immediately start playing. This is something that usually irritates me, but not in this case. His music is completely enchanting…as are his little books.)   david massengill's itty bitty book cover This book stands just about three inches high, and, though the structure is a different variation of the one that I’ve shown, it’s still of the put-through-the-copy machine-and-start-folding genre. david Massengill's itty bitty book This book was written and drawn with such a light, clear hand that I was envious…not an emotion that I like, but one that I will allow to influence the next little zine I make. Now I’m going to go have a listen to David’s music.    

8 1/2" x 11" Book Making · Artful Recycling · Books Made from one sheet of folded paper · Making Books with children · Making books with elementary students · origami pamphlet

Impromptu Bookmaking

I was working with first graders today when something unexpected happened.

Colorful miniature book

I have visited this school for many years, helping first graders to make lovely books, which they fill with their own original poems. (I’ve written about this project in detail at, and here’s a sample of the the completed project made by first graders in 2010.

Today, when I walked into the class they were finishing up going over math problems that had been copied on to half sheets of paper. When they were done the teacher asked them to put away the papers, and we got to work.

My agenda was to guide the students through making an origami pamphlet out of a 19″ x 23″ sheet of paper, followed by making a book cover with pockets. What was unexpected is that they finished this all in 48 minutes, which left us with an extra 12 minutes. This rarely happens. I was about to hand to class back over to the regular classroom teacher when I remembered those math sheets.

We had just made the origami pamphlet out of large papers, and I had gone over the directions slowly and explicitly, so I thought that these first graders would enjoy making tiny little books using the very same methods of folding as they did in the bigger books.

They were stars. They remembered the steps and made their new little books in about a minute. Then they got to work.

Now, remember, these are first graders whose writing skills are just beginning to emerge, but, for the most part,  the fact that their writing skills were limited didn’t  bother them in the least.. I was lucky enough to hear an exchange of thoughts between two students: one child immediately got to work writing about rainbows and ribbons. The girl next to her bewailed that she didn’t know what to do. The prolific child told her classmate to just write words, but the girl said she didn’t know any words. Undaunted the rainbow girl advised her friend that she should just make up words. This turned out to be a satisfying suggestion, and the formerly clueless child got right to work.

It’s been my experience that if children are given little blank books they start writing.

Today I saw this happen again. As soon as the class finished constructing their books there was hardly another word spoken in the room as they all wrote, drew and imagined.

How-to · origami pamphlet

How to Make an Origami Pamphlet

how to make an origami book out of one piece of paper
Making an 8-page Origami Pamphlet

The first time that I saw printed directions for this book stucture was in a book, which I did not buy, in a Teachers Store somewhere in Brooklyn, about thirty years ago.  I tried to memorize the instructions (I failed).   It was a couple of years before I found it again.

Over the years I have come across many, many sets of instructions for this structure.  Maybe one day someone will collect as many versions as they can find and post them all in one place.  But, for now, here’s my most current version (This, the third or forth attempt at getting it right.)   If you want to print it out, this link : Making an 8-page Origami Pamphlet will be a better quality than the above image. For black and white printing, here is the B&W handout for the Origami Pamphlet.

And, just for fun, here are a few more links to directions posted by other people:

Addendum March 5, 2014 : I’ve just created a Pinterest board with loads of different versions of instructions of this same structure. It’s a fun look at all the variations.

Please send me links to any other tutorials like this that you may find!