Introduction: Folding Book Art - Wedding Table Numbers

Picture of Folding Book Art - Wedding Table Numbers

I am getting married soon and my fiance was looking at how to mark the table numbers.

The wedding is a village fete / vintage sort of theme. My wife to be is an english teacher, and we both like books...

As she was looking for inspiration she came across one of the folded books with words in. I'm sure you have seen them before, but if not check out this link:

At this point I thought "I can do that!". So I set about folding numbers in to the books instead of words...

After I had done my first number, I tried to search the Internet for instructions to see if there is a better way of doing it. I couldn't find instructions (without paying $15), just a couple of free templates (for a crown), but no instructions on how to use them.

So I stuck with my method, and this is what I will go through here.

In theory you should be able to use the same method for words or picture.

Date Made: May 2013
Approx Cost: £0.50 per book
Approx Time: 1.5 hours per book
Difficulty: Medium

Step 1: Acquire Books

Picture of Acquire Books

I used hard back books as I thought it would give much more structure to it after it was all folded, meaning that it would stand up easier.

Originally I was going to do them all in books that mean something to us, but I decided against this in the end for two reasons
1. Cost - looking on eBay/amazon, hard back versions of the books I was after would soon of racked up.
2. It seemed a waste to ruin good books.

So I went to my local charity book store and asked them if they had any books they were throwing out.

I was lucky in the fact that I just happened to turn up the day before their recycling collection. The lady took me to a room out the back full of bags of books. She let me pick which books I wanted, and then just asked for a donation of £5 to the chairty - so 50p per book.

Since folding these books I have realised that you need to look for a few things in the books you choose though.
1. Make sure they are solid; solid spine, no pages falling out etc.
2. Make sure the pages aren't too thin. Don't pick any with that thin tracing paper style pages.
3. Make sure you have enough pages. I think 300 to 400 pages is about right.
4. Old/Discoloured/Gold Leaf Edge books are best, as you will get a contrast in colour to the folded edge. (Although some of the colour comes from the gap/shadow).

Step 2: Mark Number

Picture of Mark Number

I marked the edges of the pages with the number.

I did this by spreading the pages out first (by approx double) so that it gives a better idea of what the final number would look like. You can see that when the book is not spread, the number is very tall and narrow, this is how it should be, as the folding of pages will thicken it.

When spreading the pages, spread them from left to right (as per the photo with the blank pages) then draw the pencil marks from left to right also. This way the pencil marks will be on the front of each page so that you can see them when folding.

When marking the number, try to get a fine definitive line. I used a mechanical pencil to help with this. It will mean that you have a definitive point to fold, which will help the number edges to be much more even and precise with a better 'flow'.

I did mine by free hand, but you could use photoshop or something to change the aspect ratio, print it out, and then trace it on to the edge of the book. If you were doing a word or picture or something more complex, than this might be the way to go.

Step 3: Start Folding

Picture of Start Folding

Use the pencil marks to guide you as to where to fold the pages.

There should be 2 folds per page, one on each corner.

The edge of the book should remain in place where the number 'area' is.

If there is more than one 'area' on a page (e.g. the very edge of an 8), then you do not need to cut the page to fold it two ways, just alternative between the 'areas' on each successive page. The photos will probably explain it better than words!

I have added a video in the comments which will help too. check it out...

Step 4: Page Angle

Picture of Page Angle

You want the fold angle to be consistent from page to page.

I did this by always using a 45 degree fold as its easy to line up with the text of the book. Example on left of picture.

Where you do not have enough space to fold a 45 degree angle, fold the page so that the corner almost touches the back of the book. This will automatically give you a smooth transition between the pages. Example on right of picture.

Step 5: Repeat

Picture of Repeat


Many times!

This is the part that takes the time and patience. Each book took me roughly 1.5 hours. But do it in front of the tv or something and it isn't that bad.

Obviously the more time you spend, and the more accurate you are, the better the final product. You can see that the 6 is a little shoddy as I rushed it (I swapped this for the 9 later as they looked better that way round). 

Step 6: Compress

Picture of Compress

The aspect ratio (ratio of width to height) of the number can be altered by compressing the book.

Squeeze it to find where your number looks best, and then hold this in place using an elastic band across the back of the book. The further towards the front you put the band, the more compressed it will be.

Play around til it looks the best. You may not need one at all, it's just a way of tweaking it if you wish.

Step 7: Tidy Up and Display

Picture of Tidy Up and Display

If there are pencil marks that remain on show, just erase them.

Display on your shelf, at weddings (as table numbers like we are), anywhere...


Morgantao (author)2014-01-31

This is truly a wonderful instructable!

I too have trouble wrapping my head around the holes in the eight.

I would really appreciate more photos, and a video would be sooooo much help.

Thanks for sharing this, I always enjoy a good 'ible.

Mr_o_uk (author)Morgantao2014-01-31

Ok, this is a very quick rough and ready example of how to fold the holes in an 8! It doesn't look like much, but if you keep repeating the process, the number will form!

I was just going to bed, so I rushed it and I didn't put the accuracy in to the folds that I normally would.

It is also done in an awkward way as I would normally have the book facing me, not facing the side. I had it facing the side just to point to the camera!

Hopefully it helps, if not let me know and I will do a proper video!

deniseann (author)Mr_o_uk2015-02-07

Going to try this

Morgantao (author)Mr_o_uk2014-02-01

Perfect, now I finally understand!
I've always been more of a visual learner :)

This short video helped me more than reading all the tutorials. Thank you!

shonaali (author)2016-10-25

hey i am trying to fold my book into a date which is "29❤1❤2017 its not comming out properly i have tried numorous ways .. but only the date is crrating the trouble :( if u could help

ana0_0 made it! (author)2015-10-14

This instructable is so amazing! I never thought that folding book art could be so easy. I think that I will definitely need more practice before I can use the books as centerpieces for the wedding. The hardest part for me was drawing the tracing on the edges of the pages.

Thank you so very much for posting this! Yay!

MarikaM (author)2015-08-04

sara.wilbourne.5 (author)2015-02-24

Great tutorial, thanks for sharing :-)

deniseann (author)2015-02-07

Great video

LeanneR (author)2014-12-04

WOW this is GREAT!!! I've always wondered how people do this... I thought the pages were cut to form the number/Letter... Fantastic! :) Leanne

rfrick1 made it! (author)2014-07-11

okay, so it took my like 3 hours to make, but it was a good form of procrastinating before my exam!

Mr_o_uk (author)rfrick12014-07-12

Good work! 9 more to make a set (0-9). That's only 27 more hours!?! That's a lot of revision to miss out on!?!

Mr_o_uk (author)2014-02-27

I have another "book art" themed instructable here:

RingoWild (author)2014-01-31


varialodge (author)2013-12-04

This is so amazing! I have tried doing it on an old paperback for practice and I too have become confused with the 2 holes in the 8! I'm going to re-read and re-read until hopefully it sinks in :/ I never was good at this kind of thing lol, but am determined to master it!

Mr_o_uk (author)varialodge2013-12-08

Did you manage to work it out? I don't have these books anymore (they went to someone who was getting married in a library!) otherwise I would have taken some more photos and a video for you.

If you are still struggling, let me know and I will try and make another and take some more photos.

sav14 (author)2013-11-25

Wow, Love it! i'd really like to do this for my Wife's birthday, but don't know how you did the "holes" in the number eight. I would like to do "love" but need to know how to do those inside parts. Does that even make sense? Can you explain?

Mr_o_uk (author)sav142013-11-26

The holes are done by folding alternating pages, either as the top or the bottom section of body. So the holes are 'left over' after forming the body of the text. If you cut a slice through the text, think of each fold as an edge of the outline.

If it's too complicated to alternate pages, you could cut the page at the center of the fold and fold from there, but that would ruin your book, and there's no coming back from it if you make a mistake.

For an alternative method, see these instructables:

sav14 (author)Mr_o_uk2013-11-26

Thank you so very much for your response! Please forgive me I am still a bit confused. As you fold to create the main outline for, in your case, the number eight, the insides automatically form from folding it from each of the corners on alternating pages? So you're not specifically looking to fold those "inside areas" as they do it automatically?

I actually had found the other constructible on book folding but it wasn't as good as yours. It's mostly about using the program but I couldn't find any information about folding the actual pages as you showed. And I very much want to try this. Anything else you could provide I would be so very grateful!

Thank you again!

Mr_o_uk (author)sav142013-11-27

This sketch might help. You will have to zoom in to read the numbers.

Let me know if it doesn't help!?!

Mr_o_uk (author)Mr_o_uk2013-11-27

Another picture which might help.... The arrows show the fold locations and page numbers to go along with the sketch above. (The page numbers are upside down though!)

The gaps between the edges of these folded pages leave the 'holes'.

weddlbel (author)2013-11-09


weddlbel (author)2013-11-09

This is really cool!! I am going to be in a craft show so i thought this kind of thing would be really cool to do!!! Do you have any other book folding ideas you think would be cool for a craft show?

Mr_o_uk (author)weddlbel2013-11-09

Check out my book art collection:

But there is loads of cool stuff on instructables. Just search and browse!

Mr_o_uk (author)2013-07-17

for a follow up post from someone else who has done words, check this out:

shazni (author)2013-06-03

Wow doesn't describe it! Voted! But only epilog as that's the only one I see :-) thank you for this wonderful instructable .

nottotallyhere (author)2013-05-26

Voted! Thanks for this instructable, I've always wondered how it was done :) I wanted to show the violin one I made with these instructions, but it's not letting me post pics for some reason.

Mr_o_uk (author)nottotallyhere2013-05-27

I'd like to see it. If you try again and it doesn't work, then pm me and I'll send you my email. Then I will try and post it.

nottotallyhere (author)Mr_o_uk2013-05-27

Ok, I'm trying from a different browser.

Mr_o_uk (author)nottotallyhere2013-05-28

Awesome. I'm glad it worked for a picture too.

lrussell11 (author)2013-05-22

Voted! This is a fab idea... I just need to get married now! ;)

Penolopy Bulnick (author)2013-05-21

Very fun! A heart would be cute for a wedding too :) Like with other books for the couple's initials :)

Mr_o_uk (author)Penolopy Bulnick2013-05-22

I was tempted to do our names and a heart, but after doing 9 table numbers, that was more than enough! It's pretty time consuming!

HollyMann (author)2013-05-22

Love it!!!!

HollyMann (author)HollyMann2013-05-22

and I voted for you!

Mr_o_uk (author)2013-05-21

For reasons as to why I would like to win a laser cutter, please read my wedding invite instructable. (Basically I'd like to win it for my sister who is very talented and just about to finish Uni)

pyearick (author)2013-05-21

I've also been looking for free instructions for this kind of folding technique. Thank you so much! You get my vote (good luck!). And congratulations and best wishes to you and your bride. Cheers!

tema137 (author)2013-05-20

Great! With e-books you will never get this :-)

Mr_o_uk (author)tema1372013-05-21

Very true, although I am partial to an ebook and an audio book in the right place! However I couldn't not have my bookcases filled with paper books!

koklimabc (author)2013-05-21

This is awesome!!!!

yukikkt (author)2013-05-20

It looks amazing!

soul_eater (author)2013-05-20


sabu.dawdy (author)2013-05-20

impressive work!

Tarun Upadhyaya (author)2013-05-20

This is just awesome :). Thank you for sharing your awesomeness.

stubbsonic (author)2013-05-20

I'm tempted to tell you that that first edition dickens is (was) worth thousands of dollars. Seriously, though, very cool looking!

Mr_o_uk (author)stubbsonic2013-05-20

I didn't use the dickens one in the end as it was falling apart so badly.

But yeah, that crossed my mind too, so I did check if they were first edition or signed and what they were worth before starting! The charity shop apparently did the same before putting them in the recycling.

Mindmapper1 (author)2013-05-20

Really cool idea. Thanks for the inspiration.

Mr_o_uk (author)2013-05-20

Dont forget to vote for me, and check out my other wedding related instructables. Thanks.

lindarose92 (author)2013-05-20

Wow, amazing! Great job!!

About This Instructable




Bio: I studied Maths and Computing, worked in an Operation Research department, retrained as a civil engineer, worked on site for some major projects. I'm ... More »
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