How to make a concertina book

How to make a Concertina Book


This is going to have a lot of photos. You have been warned!

You need:

  • Two pieces of mountboard. Mine were 8 cm square.
  • Two pieces of painted papers, fabric, handmade paper or similar, slightly larger than the mountboard, to cover it.
  • Six pieces of painted papers (or however many you want). Mine were 14 cm square.
  • Gluestick.
  • Scissors
  • Old magazine or similar to do the glueing on.
how a concertina book is constructed

what it looks like inside

This shows how a concertina book is constructed. It has a cover at either end and six folded pieces of paper in between. I used some of my painted papers, both to cover the mountboard for the covers and for the folded paper.

board covered with paper painted using salt

cover of the book

I cut a square of mountboard (thick card) about 3 inches square – see below – and covered it with paper. This paper has been painted with very dilute Brusho powder paints and salt sprinkled on it to give the speckly effect. Brusho powder paints give a very delicate effect, almost like ink.

cover with horse stamp on

another cover with a horse stamped on

This is lokta paper from Nepal with a horse stamped on it.

back of cover showing mountboard

the back of the cover showing the mountboard and the mitred corners

I cut a piece of paper slightly larger than the card and cut across the corners, glueing the paper to the card and over the edges. The paper needs to completely cover the inside edges but it is not necessary to cover the very middle because the folded papers will be glued on here. (This paper is tissue paper glued to drawing paper with PVA glue (scrumpled up a bit when put on), painted with acrylic paint and highlighted with a gold Markal paintstick)

reverse of cover with ruler showing size

reverse of cover with ruler showing size

As you can see, this is just over 3 inches square, but the exact size doesn’t matter. You can make them bigger or smaller as you wish. The inside folded papers, when folded into four, should be just a little bit smaller than the covers – mine are about 0.25 inches smaller all round. So my covers are 3 and one eighth inches square (8 cm) and the folded paper when laid flat is just under 5 and a half inches square (14 cm)(this will be folded into four). (I obviously used the metric side of my ruler when I made these!)

blue painted paper folded lengthwise and diagonally

blue painted paper folded lengthwise and diagonally

Take a square of painted paper. This shows the folds. I painted this with Brusho paints, sprinkled grated metallic and coloured wax crayons over it, and ironed it (covering the paper with baking parchment before ironing!).

blue paper folded in half lengthwise

blue paper folded in half lengthwise

Fold this paper in half lengthwise, open it out, turn it 90 degrees and fold it lengthwise again. Then turn it over.

paper folded diagonally

paper folded diagonally

Fold the paper diagonally, press the edge well and open out. Just do this on one diagonal, not both.

paper folded correctly

paper folded correctly

Turn the paper over again and push the corners with the diagonal folds towards each other so it looks like this. If you have done origami, this will be easy. When folded flat it will be a square a quarter the area of the whole piece. Repeat with all six pieces of paper.

6 pages folded correctly and lined up ready to be glued together

6 pages folded correctly and lined up ready to be glued together

Put the papers in the order you want to glue them on. I lined up some blue paper and some blank white paper for this book when I took this photo but ended up changing my mind and using all blue ones – as you will see later on!

glueing the paper

glueing the paper

Put glue all over one square side of the paper. Try not to get any glue along the edges or it may make them stick together. Wipe any excess off.

paper being pressed down on to cover

paper being pressed down on to cover

Place the glued side on to the wrong side of the cover centrally and press it down.

pressing hard!

pressing hard!

Press down hard so that it sticks! If you use a gluestick it should stay in place fairly quickly.

Adding another folded paper

Adding another folded paper

Put glue on to the second piece of folded paper and position it on top of the first the same way round (ie. so that the corner with the ‘flaps’ is towards you).

turning book round

turning book round

Turn the whole thing round 180 degrees so that the folded corner without the flaps is towards you and the corner with the flaps is away from you.

more glue

more glue

Put glue on the next piece of paper and position it on top of the rest with the corner with the flaps towards you (ie. the opposite way round from the rest of the pages). Do the same with the next piece of paper and then turn it 180 degrees again and put the last two pieces of paper on top so that they are facing the same way as the first two you did. (If you don’t put them the right way round, don’t worry – it will just stand up differently to mine but still look fine – in fact, I did a couple where I did the first three pieces of paper one way round then I put the next three the other way, rather than two:two:two as I am showing you here). As you glue each page on, press it down well so that it sticks and doesn’t move around too much when you put the next one on.

three pages glued together and opened up

three pages glued together and opened up

Here is the book with three folded pages glued together, one the opposite way round to the other two.

book waiting for top cover to be glued on

book waiting for top cover to be glued on

Here it is with all the pages glued on, ready for the cover to be added.

book with glue on last page ready for cover to be added

book with glue on last page ready for cover to be added

Put glue on the top page, line up the cover level with the bottom cover and stick it on, wrong side on to the paper.

pressing the whole thing down well

pressing the whole thing down well

Now press the whole thing down well to stick it together nicely.

checking pages are not stuck together where they shouldn't be

checking pages are not stuck together where they shouldn’t be

Then open it up carefully and check none of the pages are stuck where they shouldn’t be. If they are, prize them apart. This should be fairly easy if you haven’t been too wild with the glue. It is important to do this now, before the glue has dried hard. If there are any gobs of glue on any of the edges, wipe them off carefully with your fingers.

book all opened up

book all opened up

Hey Presto! A concertina book!

View of lots of covers of different books I have made

lots of different books I have made

Here are several books which I have made in this way. I hope you have enjoyed this tutorial. Happy glueing! If there are any points you are confused about, let me know and I’ll try and elucidate.

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  1. Brilliant tutorial Liz! Thanks :-) I love your tissue paper cover with the gold highlights. Think I will have a go at making one in the new year.

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  3. Wow, this is a fantastic papercraft project! and it gives me a great excuse to use up some of that fancy origami paper that I keep leaving alone for “something special”… you know, the stuff that ends up never being used.

    I hope you don’t mind, but I linked to a few of your photos when I wrote a blog entry for this- I’m sure other people out there (like me!) would love to see this. You did a marvelous job on the photo instructions, too; thanks much for sharing this with all of us.

    -Eric Gjerde

  4. Pingback: Origami Tessellations » Papercraft: How to make a Concertina Book!

  5. Wow, this is fantastic. Thanks so much for putting this together. Hopefully I’ll try this out while I’m on holiday from work. I wish I’d known about it two weeks ago …

    I’m going to add a link to this from my blog.

  6. Beautiful work, and great photo-tutorial too! I have a suggestion for an alternative technique: instead of gluing the outside of each folded ‘page’, with a bit of care you can glue the insides and overlap. That way the join is a little stronger (opening the book doesn’t pull against the gluing) and the paper edges don’t show when it’s closed, only the fold. You do have to match the colours of successive pages more carefully though, and it forces the ‘turning order’ to be alternating 180-degree turns. (Couldn’t find a pic of this anywhere, hope the description is clear enough.) –Tikitu

  7. Great photo examples! I make these with kids and they are very popular–we call them lotus books or star books (if all the pages go the same way the covers come around to form the pages into a star). I just wanted to add that if you want to be able to tie your book shut (or open, to make it a star), you can use a string or ribbon that is glued to the underside of the covers, between the cover and the outermost set of pages. Lay the covers next to each other like diamonds, with the points just an eighth of an inch apart, then glue the ribbon horizontally across the covers. Hope this makes sense!

  8. Wow–thanks for the tutorial Liz—fabulous!!! I’ll be linking back too *and* sending it on!

  9. Hi Liz – fantastic. You’ve used so many great techniques and they look stunning. Well done!

  10. MANY thanks for sharing this! The pictures are so helpful. I follow the Bonefolder’s activities via e-mail. A friend and I have started a monthly group, Book Paper Sissors (tent) and we worked with this recently as tree ornaments but someone also brought in the concertina as photo album. I made a template but these instructions are wonderful! I will print them out and share them with the group.
    Best in 2006!
    Ann Engelman
    Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin

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  12. konstantina malliaraki

    i would like to know mare about how to make a concertina book! iam studing in a an atrs university and my new project is to make a concertina book!thank you in advance for your help!

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  14. hey great blog.. i forgot to buy my mum a mothers day present so i made her one of these! lol thans for saving me.. I have seen these done but your website is a easy to follow guide to make one :D good on ya! :)

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  17. I decided to give this a go in hopes that it would work for a hand-made ornament exchange party, and it turned out better than I could have ever hoped, thanks to your clear instructions!
    It’s a clever, darling design. Thanks SO much!

  18. Pingback: » CraftyPod #28: Making Alt (not Altered) Books

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  21. I can’t make as the same as what you have done,here .Really , it became dream to me.

    Don Lapre Watcher

  22. Thank goodness I finally found some one with EASY TO FOLLOW instructions and pictures to match. Thank you.

    N.S.W. Australia

  23. Hey,
    I love what you’e doing!
    Don’t ever change and best of luck.

    Raymon W.

  24. Brilliant tutorial Liz! Thanks

  25. Pingback: How to make a concertina book « In a Minute Ago

  26. Was wondering how long you have been making these. I just started myself and think they are fabulous!

  27. tłumaczenia angielski

    Thanx a lot! This is very useful.

  28. Wow, this is fantastic.

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  31. Thanks for the great tutorial. I learned a few years back from another teacher but never knew the name of the book and could never figure out how to look it up on the internet. Then just the other night I stumbled across it (origami accordian booklet) and up jumps your site in a google search.

    Thanks! I’ve already passed the link onto a colleauge who has now bookmarked it :)

  32. Was wondering how long you have been making these. I just started myself and think they are fabulous!

  33. An envelope book tutorial, from Paper Zone. Bookbinding 101, from DIY Bookbinding 102, from DIY

  34. Love the pics. I have included this fold tutorial on a lapbooking 101 site. Great for those of us who enjoy the visuals!

  35. Hi. You know what guys? I think this is very good idea, but I am affraid but not for me :|
    I like to cook very at home. Greetings from Poland.


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  38. Thanks for the posts, from kabonfootprint.

  39. thank you

  40. this is absolutely amazing!

  41. Loved it, Liz! Especially metallic and crayon part melting under the iron press.

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