Are you familiar with book art? Here are step-by-step instructions to transform a book into a work of art.

book art folding into a state

There are moments in life when you realize that even the ordinary….

….can become extraordinary.

(total aside:  I know you might not have had a cup of coffee yet, but I wanted you to know we are going all profound this morning)


Like this simple Kentucky law book.

Out-of-date.  Destined for the trash.  Overlooked.  Underappreciated.  Forlorn.

Okay….you get the picture.

But with a little book folding, these simple pages transform into something that looks more like this.

book folding artwork

It’s the state of Kentucky.

I know….right?

Isn’t it amazing?  The weekend before last my sister taught a class on how to make these and how to book fold and how to transform an old, out-of-date book into something wonderful.

I folded this book into Kentucky, but you can make other states or words or monograms or hearts or arrows or….or…..or…..or the possibilities are endless.

And it’s easy.  Time-consuming, yes.  But really easy.  If you can fold a piece of paper….you can make this book.

And the best part?  My sister of previous book folding fame wrote up directions for all of us. But before we get started—here are some questions you’ve asked me about the entire book folding situation:

Q: Is book art folding easy?

Yes. Book art folding is actually super easy. It’s one of those crafts that looks so much harder than it actually is and with a little patience and perseverance, you can transform a book into a piece of art.  All you need to get started is a book and a template. I show you below what a template looks like and how to use it. You can create a pattern or template on the computer, or on your own with a little patience. You’ll want to add lines/stripes to your design as folding guides. I like to use Illustrator or Photoshop to do this, but you could also mark it out with a ruler and a pen.

Here is a link to custom book folding patterns you can order.

Q: What is 180 fold?

This is another way to create book fold artwork with one additional step. 180 fold is simply folding all the pages toward the spine before you start marking and creating the project.

Q: How many pages does a book need to have?

Typically, you’ll need at least 300 pages for an intricate folding project. The more pages that you have, the more pages you can fold and the design will be defined through the multiple folded pages. Just remember that a page of a book is really two pages (front and back), so if there are 400 pages in the book, there are only 200 available folds.

Q: How long does it take to create a folded book?

Usually 3-4 hours are needed to complete the folded book project. There’s a short learning curve that takes a little bit of time, but once you get started, it goes much faster.

Q: What do you do with old book pages?

I love old book pages. They are one of my favorite things to decorate with. Here are a few suggestions for some crafts with old book pages:

Here’s a simple easy tutorial for book folding.

DIY Book Art

Tools needed:

Vintage book


Ruler (optional)



Here is a link to custom book folding patterns you can order.


1. Pick your book

You probably want one that is at least 400 pages, unless you have a more intricate design. In which case, then you’d want one with 600-900 pages.

book folding projects

2. Choose what you’d like to create with book folding

Print out the font/photo on an 8 ½ x 11 size sheet of paper. You’ll want it to match the size of the book, and make sure that you’ve got margins of about an inch/ inch and a half from the bottom and top of your book.

This will allow you ample folding room.

book page

3. Create a pattern for the book art project

You can do this on the computer, or on your own with a little patience. You’ll want to add lines/stripes to your design as folding guides. I like to use Illustrator or Photoshop to do this, but you could mark it out with a ruler and a pen. Remember that a page of a book is really two pages (front and back), so if there are 400 pages in the book, there are only 200 available folds. Each fold needs a stripe, so you’ll need at least two different colors of contrasting stripes (use highlighters).

Here is a link to custom book folding patterns you can order.

book folding project

If you want to have additional pages before and after the folded sculpture, make sure and account for those. So for a 400-page book, I’d want a pattern that had about 150 folds (or 150 stripes) in it, so that I could have 25 pages at the front and 25 at the back. If I wanted a fold for every page, I’d need it to be 200 folds (or 200 stripes)

book folding diy steps

4. Start folding

Okay, you’ve got your pattern, you’ve got your book. How do you start?

First, fold the top of your pattern sheet down so that you’ll have a guide for the top of your page. This will ensure that your folded section is even across the top.

5. Make a folding mark

Take a pencil and with your book closed, make a mark across all the pages about halfway between the spine of the book and the edge of the book. Do the same on the bottom of the page. These will be your folding guides.

6. Fold the first page

Next, tuck the pattern underneath the first page you want to start folding and line up your top guide with the top of your book. You’ll want to make sure the first stripe of your pattern isparallel with the outside edge of the book.

7. Mark the stripe after you have folded that page

To make the first fold, you’ll take the top right-hand corner of the page and fold it towards the middle to make a triangle. The angles of the triangle will be determined by the two guides you have – the mark you made at the top of the book as one corner, and the top of the first stripe as the second.

8. Complete the book art by pressing and folding

9. Keep folding

Now take the bottom right corner of that same page and repeat the process using the bottom of the first stripe as a guide and the bottom mark you made.

10. Make another hash mark

Make a hash mark on your pattern to indicate that you have completed that stripe.  Then push the pattern in towards the second of the book so that the second line is parallel with the edge of the book. Repeat the process.

11.  Keep folding until you have folded all the lines on the outline

12.  Tell yourself you are brilliant when you’re finished

PS  Here’s a couple of project notes:

1.  Turn on a television marathon.  This project took me about 3 hours from start to finish.

2.  At first, you will be convinced that your book will never look like what you planned.

Trust me.

At first, it looks like a bunch of folded papers and then about halfway through it all starts to look like something amazing.

3.  If this is all a little overwhelming and your eyes are glazing over.

No worries.  I completely understand.

There are tons of other book projects just waiting to be created.

That’s why I put together an entire Pinterest board of simple book projects just for us.

PS Here is a link to custom book folding patterns you can order.

disclosure: affiliate links are used in this post. If you purchase something through my links I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting Thistlewood.

How to fold a book

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  1. Image for Mary Mary

    This goes down as my favorite project ever! It combines two of my favorite things... michigan and books! Thank you so much for sharing. I can't wait to do this!

  2. Image for Jere Jere

    After patiently trying to see Kentucky in your fold, I thought I'll do my home state of Texas. Then reality set in. Texas is the 2nd largest state....big big book....many many folds....long long time...old old me. I'll just print out Kentucky Book and enjoy..I like Kentucky. Jere

  3. Image for Teddee Grace Teddee Grace

    Whaat? I think you must have needed to be there! Congrats to you and your creative siblings (don't you have a creative brother too?), but these are way too complicated for me.

  4. Image for Sharon H Sharon H

    Are you kidding me??? My lack of time as well as patience for this sort of thing.....priceless....$36.00 sounds cheap for one already made!

  5. Image for Marisa Franca @ All Our Way Marisa Franca @ All Our Way

    I am so impressed!! The first thing I thought of was to make the shape of Italy but then my saner self talked myself out of it :-( I do have patience -- I knit, sew crochet etc. but this seems way out of my league. So, I will fully appreciate your talent and well as your sister's. Great job!!!!

  6. Image for cecilee cecilee

    I like to fold books but these directions have me stumped. Any chance you or your sister might provide a video?

  7. Image for Teresa Teresa

    Amazing! But, no way. I don't think my brain can do that?! Glad your sis takes custom orders on these books. Oh, by-the-way, what about them Wildcats?!!! I bleed blue! C-A-T-S!!!

  8. Image for Cecilia Cecilia

    I think I either need more pictures or a how to video...I dont understand...wah! I really want to try this. I have old books just begging to be used.

  9. Image for Jane Jane

    This is awesome!! My sister in law gifted me with two books and the instructions for making them into works of art. I'm going to pull them out next fall (they are Christmas themed) and see how I do. Kudos to your sister. Does she have a blog? Jane

  10. Image for Linda Linda

    your family is just too talented for words. that being said, I got lost when you said to make the mark between the spine and something...I must not be too bright. this would be fun to do however..... Linda xoxo

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