Lantern: Folded Book Art

This book sculpture is called “Lantern” because it reminds me of the Chinese paper lanterns that children make when it is near Chinese New Year.

Book sculptures or altered books are books which have been transformed into incredible pieces of art. Altered books often include the use of scissors and/or glue; however, this design was made by folding only. It is not a hard design but it will take a while to complete – it depends on how many pages you have to fold.

The final appearance of the sculpture will depend on the shape of the book and the number of pages you have. A square book will produce a stout lantern. A book that is twice as tall as it is wide will produce a shape like the one shown above except the top and bottom would come to a point. Tall, skinny books cannot be made into lantern-shapes, instead they will look more like the Quartz design.

The instructions are simple, but there’s lots to do, so let’s get started:

Book Sculpture: Lantern

lantern book sculpture

Step 1:

Take a book and remove the front and back cover but leave the pages bound together. Without ripping off the pages, remove small bits of binding glue that may still be adhering to the spine of the book. The book used here was a day-planner donated by Slingshot.

lantern book sculpture

Step 2:

Fold down the top-corner of the page; at the same time, fold up the bottom-corner of the page. Align the top and bottom corners so they meet in the middle with the edges of the paper touching. Press down to establish the crease.

lantern book sculpture

Step 3:

Believe it or not, you just completed the hardest part of the project. Turn the page.

lantern book sculpture

Step 4:

Repeat. Fold the top-corner down and the bottom-corner up. Match the edges so they are even. The folded edges of this second page should line up with the edges of page 1.

lantern book sculpture

Step 5:

Turn the page.

lantern book sculpture

This is how it looks when two pages are done.

lantern book sculpture

This is the side view with all the pages folded.

lantern book sculpture

This is 3/4 view.
Note: if you have more pages, or if the pages were thicker, your sculpture may flare open more and give a full 360-wrap-around.

lantern book sculpture
This sculpture was made with the hard cover still on. One of the benefits of leaving the cover on is that it gives you a nice backdrop. It is also easier to store and transport because you can close the book and the hard cover will prevent the the page corners from being dented.


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Book sculptures or altered books are often created by modifying the pages of a book while the pages are still bound together. You can cut, fold, paint, and do all sorts of interesting things with the paper to create beautiful structures. The book sculptures on this web site are made by folding only.