Monday, February 27, 2012


It always amazes me what pulls us in.

What is it about that piece of art that prevents me from looking away? What is it about that particular person that makes my stomach tighten into a giant knot? What is it about that song that instantly changes my mood? What is it about that food that makes me close my eyes with pleasure? What is it about those shoes that I need to buy?

We all have an aesthetic. A type. A pattern. A style. The things that make us who we are. The things that make our friends exclaim "that's soooo you!"

Books, and in particular used books, are one of my things. I love the smell of old libraries. I love walking into old bookstores that feel like rat mazes. I love the feeling of comfort and calm that overcomes me when I'm surrounded by shelves and shelves of books. So it's not surprising that when I saw folded book art for the first time I stopped dead in my tracks and just stared in awe at such unique and inspired art.

I was at the Randolph Street Market when I met Betsy from exploded library selling her amazing creations. And I thought how awesome it would be to have an entire wall of folded books. Turning old books into unique, three-dimensional wall art, well, that would be soooo me.

Project Living Room Makeover is nearly complete. 
TV stand- you're next on my shit to-do list...

But at $30+ a pop they were a bit steep for a large-scale art project. That's when my inner Martha Stewart decided she'd just do it all herself.

But where, oh where to begin? Google to the rescue!

Of course I had photos from exploded library as inspiration. And a handful of you tube videos, like this one that I used for one of my books. But the best tutorial I found was a $15 ebook on etsy. If you're seriously interested in book folding I'd highly suggest getting this download. It's limited in some ways, but it does a great job of visually explaining the basics. And once you've got those down, it's easier to and see how different patterns can be made.

Close-up of my wall o' books

It amazes me the variety of shapes and looks you can get by simply folding or curling book pages. There is no glue used on these book pages. No scissors. Nothing except folded sheets of paper.

And it's really not that difficult. One of the hardest parts of this project was finding cheap books that had interesting inside covers. Of course you could use cool colored paper on the inside covers, but I decided to keep all of mine natural. Most of my books cost $1-2 dollars, but I did spent $5 on a few of them that had really interesting inside covers.

Cost-wise, it's a pretty damn cheap project. The largest investment you have to make is time. The books take ~1 hr or so to fold, more or less depending on the complexity of the pattern and how experienced you are. But it's really not too crazy as you can simply fold away while watching mind numbing television.

The books look great sitting on a desk or bookshelf. But it's simple to hang the books. All you need is  a hot glue gun and a paper clip.

Instant wall hanging apparatus!
I used quite a bit of hot glue since I really wanted that sucker to stay put.

If your book isn't laying perfectly flat when you hang it (almost all of mine did) or you're using a paperback book, just hot glue gun a piece of cardboard across the entire spine of the book when opened (not pictured). In general I think hardcover books look better and are easier to fold/hang, but with the cardboard trick softcover books work fine. FYI: one of the books on my wall above was soft cover, and I bet you can't guess which one...

I hope my project has inspired you to bring a piece of something you love, something that is sooooo you, into your home.

And if you're in need of some additional inspiration, click on the first thumbnail below to see close-up shots of some of these folded beauties:

If you're interested in how I actually turned these individual books into a wall of books, I used the same trick when I hung my kitchen utensils on the wall.

First you lay down a piece of paper/ tissue paper as large as the space on the wall you want to cover. Then you spend some time arranging your books until they're visually pleasing to you.

I added an extra book in the lower left hand corner later that night...

(1) TAKE A PICTURE of this configuration and (2) outline the books so you know exactly where they're supposed to hang. Make an extra mark at the top of the book spine, which is just above where your nail will go into the wall to hang the book.

Note: I had a few books that hung vertically. They "droop" a bit on the top, but I put those books all the way at the top of my wall so you that it really wasn't noticeable when looking up. So it's possibly to hang books in that direction, but it will not work for all folds. (The book needs to be pretty dense for this to be possible.) 

(3) Tape the paper onto your wall and hammer in those nails where you oh-so-nicely marked them.

Planning ahead is the only way to go

Then hang your books from those handy-dandy glue-gun attached paper clips, step back, and marvel at your creation!

Yours in turning their attraction into inspired reality,


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