Playing with An Accordion

Blown and Fallen, 2007
I like making books with pages that breathe. Translucent paper, cutouts, and divided pages are a few of the ways I can add air to the book and make it more dimensional. Making two long slits in an eight-panel accordion creates pages with breath as well and produces a kind of mix-and-match book.This example features Velin Arches for the text paper and 4-ply museum board covered in book cloth for the covers.

You will need these tools: pencil; bone folder; 24" metal ruler; knife and cutting mat; PVA on a paper plate; glue brush or piece of board to spread the glue; magazines or catalogues to use as waste paper while gluing; waxed paper; large heavy book for a weight.

Materials: one piece Velin Arches, cut to 25 1/2" or 26" x 7" (grain short); two pieces 4-ply museum board, 3 1/2" x 7 1/4"; one piece book cloth (or decorative paper), 8 1/2"" x 8 3/4" (grain short); one strip book cloth (or decorative paper), 1 1/2" x 7" (grain long)

Velin Arches is a paper that takes watercolors, acrylic inks, and gesso very well. Paint the paper before you proceed if you want an overall wash or background. (More info on painting paper.) 

1. For the accordion: Arrange the paper horizontally, unpainted side up (if applicable).
2. Fold in half so right and left edges are touching. Crease with the bone folder now (and after every fold hereafter). Open.
3. Fold the right and left edges in to touch the center fold. Looks like a cupboard. Keep folded like this.
4. Fold each top section back, aligning the edges with the existing folds. Turn over. Looks like a table.
5. Fold each whole top section in toward the center fold. Crease.
6. Unfold completely. You should now have an eight-panel accordion or fan fold with alternating valleys and mountains.

7. Cut the pages: Arrange the accordion on the cutting mat so that the first and last folds are valley folds.

 8. Measure and mark 2 1/4" from both top and bottom edges along these two valley folds.

9. Using the ruler horizontally, connect the bottom dots. Using the knife on the cutting mat, cut against the ruler, stopping at each dot. 
10. Repeat the aligning of the dots and the cutting of the slit for the top two dots. Set aside.


 11. Fold the book cloth in half with the grain. Measure and mark 1/4" on either side of the fold, top and bottom. Draw a line against the ruler, connecting the parallel marks.

12.  Apply glue to one half of the book cloth but not going all the way to the edge.
13. Press one piece of museum board onto the adhesive so that one edge is aligned with the line you drew in step 11 and the board is centered top to bottom. Repeat the gluing and centering for the second board.

14. Cut diagonals across the paper, leaving two boardwidths of space between the point of the board and the triangle you cut off. You can use two scrap boards and draw the line with pencil first.

15. Glue and fold down the flaps, one at a time, working with parallel flaps first. Use the bone folder to smooth into the groove. Make sure to push in slightly at the corners to make sure they are covered before you continue with the perpendicular flaps.

16. Remove the  project to a clean work surface. With waxed paper between the bone folder and the paper, rub down the glued paper.

17. Apply glue to the back of the strip of 1 1/2" x 7" book cloth. Place it to cover the gap between the boards. Use the bone folder to smooth the book cloth into the grooves.
18. Attach the accordion: Close the accordion and place a new piece of waste paper between the first two pages. You should see just the last panel. Apply glue on this panel. Press into place on the back cover with an even margin and aligned with inner spine edge of the board. Repeat the gluing and pressing into place for the front cover.

19. Place waxed paper in between the inside covers, wrap the book in waxed paper, and place under a heavy book to dry for several hours or overnight.
 20. Add more drawings, words with acrylic ink when completely dry. Consider putting nouns on all the top sections, verbs on the middle sections, and a prepositional phrase on the lower sections so you can mix and match the sentences.

Thanks for dropping by my studio!


    Anonymous said…
    I love this idea! I would like to see more explanation between step 10 and step 11. Another photo would help, too. It looks like you've raised some sections and lowered others.
    Alisa said…
    I arranged the panels—raised and lowered for the photo—only to show that there are two slits and the accordions are now free in three sections. Nothing changes between the steps. Try it and see!