meandering book articleI learned how to make a Meandering Book from our dear friend Danita, who is a wonderful artist and innovative bookmaker.

A Meandering Book is actually a type of “paper engineering” and looks hard but really isn’t. (Well, it’s a little tricky at first.) You fold a piece of paper or cardstock in half and half again and then in thirds in the other direction to make 12 small panels out of one piece of paper. Then you cut out some of the panels. Then you fold the remaining panels in a new way, back and forth, until it all turns into a wacky book that opens sideways, upside down and backwards.

Yeah, I know, it sounds hard, but trust me when I say it’s fun and a real conversation piece. From the front it looks like a normal book, but when it opens, it’s a whole new experience. A fascinating kind of toy. Also, like most of my favorite kinds of books, it’s a little bit habit-forming.

At the left is an article on page 115 in the Winter 2007 Somerset Studio Gallery that featured my Paris Meandering Book.

Directions: Start with a 9 x 15-inch piece of sturdy paper (or very lightweight cardstock). Fold the paper to make 12 panels (fold the short way in half and half again and the long way into thirds). Unfold and lay paper horizontally so it shows four rows across and three up (see photo above as guide). In the second row, mark and X on the first two panels from bottom. In the third row mark an X on the bottom panel. In the fourth row, mark an X on the top panel. Cut out the panels marked with an X.

Then fold the remaining panels accordion style, back and forth, starting with the bottom right panel. Unfold and decorate pages as you wish with paint or images. I found it helpful to make a prototype from copy paper so I could see which way the panels would face as I unfolded them and place my items accordingly. I also numbered the panels in my prototype to help me navigate.

You can make your book as simple or complicated as you like. I made one that is completely interactive with envelopes, tags, pop-ups, doors and windows. I used the Paris Meandering Book simply to display my original ATC cards and stamped on the page opposite the ATCs in a Paris theme. I also beaded the fold on the front panel to make it look more like a traditional book spine.

When done, hand your Meandering Book to an unsuspecting friend. Watch as they unfold it, twisting and turning to see your art.