Miniature Lotus Books as Holiday Ornaments

ahoy graphics tutorial, make miniature lotus books, origami ornaments

I love the holidays, it means I get to create a new set of handmade book ornaments to don my Christmas tree. These are perfect for gift giving, too—my Mom hits me up every year for ones with shimmer papers and music sheets—and they are very easy to make. How easy? This was the first kind of book that I learned while studying Book Arts.

This binding technique has many names: Chinese Star, Lotus, Origami, and so on but I always took a liking to “Lotus Book” because when you adhere the folded pages together, all facing the same way, it will open up like a Lotus flower.

MATERIALS

I know most won’t have a bookbinding supply store near them so I made this tutorial using materials almost everyone will have in their home:

  • decorative, cover-weight papers for the covers
  • solid colored, text-weight papers for the inside pages
  • 1/8″ thick bookboard
  • a roll of 1/16″ ribbon
  • permanent double-sided tape
  • bone folder
  • 3″ wide clear acrylic ruler
  • exacto knife

CUTTING

To prepare your materials, the formula for figuring how large to cut your papers is simple. For the cover papers: the width you want the final book to be + 1″. For the inside pages: the width of the final book x 2. The bookboard should be cut to the exact size of the final book. The 2 ribbon ties should be cut to 8″ each. When you get started, you’ll see how much easier the 3″ clear acrylic ruler will make things for you and why I don’t bookbind without it.

FOLDING

To create your origami-like inside pages, take your bonefolder and crease a fold down the middle of the paper, both vertically and horizontally, so that the creases make what looks like a cross or plus sign. Then flip the paper over to crease opposing corners so you have a single diagonal crease. Fold 5 of these inside pages for each book you want to make. Your book won’t open up with less than 5 but I wouldn’t recommend making more than 7 pages for each book.

ADHERING THE PAGES

Take your folded pages and on the outer, smooth sides place 3 strips of double-sided tape that go as far to the edge as possible. My books are to be 2″ square so 3 strips of tape almost cover the whole surface. Then close the page to line up the following page to be on top of it. Soon you will have a set of pages that already want to lay open in a position like a lotus flower.

ADHERING THE COVERS + RIBBON TIES

Take your boards and place in the center of your cover papers. Add 3 strips to the board and flip over the board over onto the wrong side of the cover paper so it’s snug in place. You don’t want the covers to have bubbles so I adhere them before moving on to adhering the flaps of the cover paper. Once finished, add 3 more strips of double-sided tape to the other side of the bookboard, the side that is the “inside” of the covers, soon to be adhered to the pages. This is to get you ready for the next step of folding over the corners and side flaps of the paper so make sure that you are placing the tape close to the edges.

Now that your boards are in place, I like to use what we call “library corners” to wrap the flaps of the cover papers up and over the edges of my bookboard. Library corners are the most sturdy and will never show the board beneath, so they naturally became my favorite method. To start, take the corners of the cover papers, one at a time, and fold over the point of the corner. You’ll make a 45 degree motion when you do, allowing all the points of the paper to be pointing towards the center area of the board. Next, wrap up and over the side flaps.

Take the end of your ribbon tie and place it down on a corner. Adhere the ribbon in place with tape, making sure that 1″ of the ribbon is at least being anchored down so it won’t come back out. Repeat for the other cover. If you place the ribbon in the middle of a side edge, you will not be able to open and tie back your book properly, it must be on a corner.

CASING YOUR PAGES INTO THE COVERS

Take your set of inside pages and place 3 more strips on either end for casing into the covers. I keep one cover on its back while I stack the pages on top so I can be sure to line it all up nicely. Then I will open it up so I can smooth out the side that was just adhered to the cover, getting rid of any bubbles and making sure it’s firmly adhered. Then with the other cover on its back, I take my stack and place down on top of it again, making sure I’m lining it all up evenly.

USING YOUR ORNAMENT

Once it’s all together, I open the book up all the way until the two covers are back-to-back with each other and the pages open up like a 5-pointed start. Next, I make a simple knot over the two corners to keep the book open then I will make a know near the two ends of the ribbon so a loop is formed for hanging on the tree. When you’re done using your book ornament, simply untie the loop and close the book so the pages won’t be crushed or crinkled for next year.