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.

Terra Cotta and Green

January 14, 2017

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…

Indigo, Gold and Red

January 9, 2017

Zhen Xian Bao with Red, Gold and Indigo

Based on Zhen Xian Bao with Red, Gold and Indigo, barely opened

I’ve been cutting up my stashes of beautiful papers to design/make structures that borrow liberally from what I’ve learned about the Chinese Thread Book structure that I’ve been posting about over the last few months.

based on Zhen Xian Bao,, with Ried, Gold, and Indigo


Rather than strictly mimicking traditional Chinese structures, of which there are countless variations, I’ve been making variations of my own. Basically, I’ve been repeating one design with different combinations of paper, but mostly featuring Chiyogami papers. So far I’ve made five distinct compositions of papers. This one, with the indigo cover, and the red/gold paper inside, is the most romantic looking of them all.

based on Zhen Xian Bao,, with Ried, Gold, and Indigo

pamphlet and rectangular tray, opened

Inside, instead of going the traditional route and placing collapsible boxes on the verso and recto sides, I’ve chosen to place pamphlet on the left, and rectangular trays on the right.


Still, inside the pamphlet there is a traditionally made, collapsed origami box.


Here it is, that little box (a 2″ square), opened.

based on Zhen Xian Bao,, with Ried, Gold, and Indigo7

Next layer down is a machine-made paper, which contains real flower petals, a paper that is one of just a few pieces of paper I have left from the now extinct Kate’s Paperie.

Big Box layer

Big Box layer

Finally, here’s the big interior box, made from handmade paper from India, containing leave skeletons. Also, you can see there’s a copper Stardream Metallic on the right, which is a slim pocket.


Chinese Thread Book

Closed, with Gold

All closed up.

Chinese Thread Book, Zhen Xian Bao, from the collection of Ed Hutchins

Detail of a painted Twist Box from a Chinese Thread Book, Zhen Xian Bao, from the collection of Ed Hutchins

I can’t believe my good luck.

I’ve been reading about the Chinese Thread Book, devouring anything in print that I could find about it, scouring the internet then just thinking about and trying to make sense of this structure. It didn’t even occur to me that I might actually get my hands on an authentic Zhen Xian Bao.

Front of  Zhen Xian Bao, from the Collection of Ed Hutchins

Front of Zhen Xian Bao, from the Collection of Ed Hutchins

This is how it happened. I wanted to share what I’ve been studying with book artist Ed Hutchins. When he told me that he wasn’t familiar with what I was talking about I drove to his house and dropped off Ruth Smith’s book on the subject. then received this mysterious message a few days later. Ed wrote: ” LOVED THE BOOK. I devoured it cover to cover. I’m going to try to find my zhen xian bao before you get back. keep your fingers crossed…” then a day or two later “You won’t believe this: I found the sewing kit book–AND you are going to love it!”

Chinese Thread Book, Zhen Xian Bao, from the collection of Ed Hutchins

First Opening, Chinese Thread Book, Zhen Xian Bao, from the collection of Ed Hutchins

Turns out that even though Ed had no idea of what I was talking about, once he saw the Ruth Smith book those memory gears kicked in, and he suspected that something he had in storage, might be of interest to me. Turns out he had, many years ago, bought this item on Ebay, without knowing what it was. When he asked the seller about it, well, the seller didn’t know anything much about it either. Ed suspects that this thread book was part of an estate that was being sold off.

Chinese Thread Book, Zhen Xian Bao, from the collection of Ed Hutchins

Two kinds of origami on the top layer of the Zhen Xian Bao (grey strip of paper has been placed in the open box on the right, to hold it open for the photo)

Here’s a variation of boxes on the top layer that I hadn’t seen in all of my perusing: this Zhen Xian Bao features both twist box, and a masu-type box on the top layer, in an alternating pattern.


Looking under the flap of the square boxes with the star on top readily reveals that this box is an embellished masu box.

Edge of Masu-type box

Edge of Masu-type box

There are a few things about this masu box that I’ve deemed particularly noteworthy. The first is that the green and red backgrounds of the star shapes are not hand colored, rather, these are colored papers that are adhered to the masu-box paper. The star motif is also decorated with collaged bits of colored papers. The other detail that I thought was interesting is that the masu boxes were made from a lighter weight paper than all the rest of the boxes in this thread book.

Second Layer, rectangular domino proportions, under each set of twist box and masu box Chinese Thread Book, Zhen Xian Bao, from the collection of Ed Hutchins

Second Layer, which are boxes (or trays?) that have rectangular domino proportions; Gray paper strips placed in the boxes to hold them open for photo-op

Okay, so there’s 16 square boxes, each two of which reveal a box underneath, so, between just the first and second layers there’s 24 boxes.

not origami

not origami

There’s some precise folding going on with these rectangular trays, but it’s also clear that it’s not what we think of as origami. Its been my impression that the rectangular trays traditionally are more like simple folded templates, but I will continue to make mine with origami methods for the reasons I’ve discussed in earlier posts. The decision mostly has to do with the paper. Oh, and it’s the paper in this book that makes it most convincing to me that this Zhen Xian Bao was made in China. The paper is thin, strong, and has an uneven texture. It’s certainly handmade paper, and it’s not like paper I’ve seen. Actually, this paper’s closest counterpart in my paper stash is the common grocery bag (though I am sure that this similarity is purely cosmetic!).

Next layer down, from Chinese Thread Book, Zhen Xian Bao, from the collection of Ed Hutchins

Next layer down, from Chinese Thread Book, Zhen Xian Bao, from the collection of Ed Hutchins

Next layer down! Here, each set of four top boxes pull away from each other. Now the count is up to 28 boxes.

Next layer, tray under eight boxesChinese Thread Book, Zhen Xian Bao, from the collection of Ed Hutchins

Next layer, tray under eight boxes Chinese Thread Book, Zhen Xian Bao, from the collection of Ed Hutchins

Please excuse the purple straw holding the next layer open. Now we’re up to 30 boxes. If you are confused by the count, remember that each set of boxes has a symmetrically placed counterpart, so this open box on the right side is mirrored, but currently hidden, on the left.

The Big Box of the Zhen Xian Bao

The Big Box of the Zhen Xian Bao

Finally, here’s the Big Box layer. There are some major tears in the part of this box that articulate the spine. With the big box, there;s a total of 31 individual compartments in this book.

A secret is revealed on the big box layer that I loved seeing…. one thing that bothered me about this structure was the cover. Although there are no rock-solid rules for the cover of the Chinese Thread Book, I found the cover of this one to be somewhat out of place. But at the edges of the material that covers the big box there’s a hint of something different.


Look, at the head of the box there’s an indigo pattern on material that is underneath the red cover paper.

img_0535There it is again, at the tail edge of the box. The red cover was somehow added on, over the original indigo cover, which is a color that makes more sense for this book. Maybe the original cover was damaged and a seller thought to recover the book to make it more sale-able?

Decoration on a twist box of  the Zhen Xian Bao,

Decoration on a twist box of the Zhen Xian Bao,

I kind of plan on kind of replicating this book using my own methods. Using the measurement methods I’ve been writing about, the only measurement I will need to replicate this book is the diagonal measurement of the square that is made with the 2 x 2 square of the top-tier of boxes.

Chinese Thread Book, Zhen Xian Bao, from the collection of Ed Hutchins

Back cover

That’s it. Now I better get this book of boxes back to Ed before I get too used to having it here.

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