Introduction: Flag Book

A flag book is a type of sculptural artist book invented by Hedi Kyle. It is based on a simple accordion book, in which papers are glued to the sides of the accordion. These papers stick out like flags, hence the name. Examples of artists who have used this structure can be viewed here.

Not only is this book an interesting and innovative means of creative expression, it is a great structure for designers or for material display. Instead of paper for the flags, consider photographs, fabric, wood veneer, or some other thin material.

Step 1: Step 1: Gather Tools and Supplies.

Supplies needed for this project:


Bone folder

Bone scorer

Xacto knife


Book board (for covers)

Book Board jig, cut longer than the height of your book, and 1/2 inch wide

Paper for flags

Paper for wrapping cover

Paper for end sheets

Adhesive of your choice - I will be using wheat paste for this Instructable

Paintbrushes for applying adhesive

Step 2: Step 2: Assemble Your Flags

Lay out your flags in the order in which they will appear. This will keep you organized as you start working.

Step 3: Step 3: Begin to Fold the Accordion

In this next series of steps, you will need your paper for your accordion, a bone folder, a bone scorer, and your book board jig.

Start by folding your paper in half by bringing the shorter two ends of the paper together.

Using the side of your bone folder, press down in the center of the fold, then pull it up along the fold.

Following this, bring the bone folder down along the fold. This technique assures that your folds will be crisp and well-formed.

Step 4: Step 4: Continue Folding Accordion

Now you will need your jig.

Lay the jig next to the folded edge you just made. Run your bone scorer along the edge of the jig on the inside of the paper, scoring the paper in order to make it easier to fold.

After scoring, open the paper while keeping the jig in place.

Run your bone folder alongside the inside of the fold, pressing against the jig through the paper.

Remove the jig. Next, still using the bone folder, fold the paper down on the crease you just made. Press down with the bone folder.

Your paper should now look like the final image of this set.

Step 5: Step 5: Complete the First Mountain Fold

Flip your paper over, and repeat the previous sequence.

Again, line your jig up with the center crease, score and fold the paper over.

When the paper is opened, there will be a small fold in the center that pops up.

This small fold is called a "mountain fold." Mountain folds point towards the reader. The opposite, "valley folds" point away from the reader.

Step 6: Step 6: Continue in Sequence

Continue in this sequence until you have enough mountain folds to attach all your flags.

Each mountain fold will require you to repeat the sequence on both sides of the paper to be complete.

Step 7: Step 7: Step Up Your Workspace for Gluing

Once you have enough mountain folds, set up your workspace to begin gluing. You will need your flags, assembled in order, your adhesive, paintbrushes, and scrap paper.

When using wet glue, it is very easy for it to migrate everywhere. I recommend laying down several layers of scrap paper, when one gets covered in glue, you can simply pull off a layer and keep going.

Step 8: Step 8: Begin to Glue the Flags to the Accordion

Select your first flag - I prefer to begin with the uppermost left flag, and work from there.

On the back of your flag, brush out a strip of glue along the right edge of the back.

Lay the flag along the top edge of your paper, on the left side of the top of the first mountain fold.

If there is trouble getting it to stick, use your bone folder to press the flag down to get a firm attachment.

Step 9: Step 9: Continue Gluing Down the Flags

Continue to glue the edges of the flags and attach them the sides of your mountain folds, until all your flags are glued down.

Often, when there are three rows, as there are in this example, the center row is glued to the right side of the folds, for visual variety, but this is an artistic choice, not a requirement.

Step 10: Step 10: Begin Wrapping Your Book Covers

Set the accordion aside to dry, and meanwhile, you can wrap your covers. For this step you will need your book board, covering paper, bone folder, a pencil, adhesive, paint brushes, and more scrap paper.

Again, I cannot over-emphasize having plenty of scrap paper, since it is very easy to get adhesive all over the outside of your book, which can detract from its appearance.

Prior to gluing, trace your board outline onto the back of your wrapping paper.

Brush glue over the board smoothly.

Lay your board onto the cover paper. Using your bone folder, you can press it smoothly down and squeeze out any excess glue.

Step 11: Step 11: Crease Paper and Trim Cover Paper Corners

Using your bone folder, fold the edges of your cover paper up and over the book board.

Next, using your jig, line it up at a 45 degree angle to the book board at a corner.

Trim off the corner triangle on the outside of the book board.

Trimming the corner ensures that there will be no excess paper to make the paper bunch up. Using the jig guarantees that there will be no gap after the excess paper is removed, because one board thickness remains. Therefore, when the board is wrapped, there is the exact amount needed with no excess so that the board is wrapped neatly with no bulges or gaps.

Repeat these steps for all four corners of both boards.

Step 12: Step 12: Complete Wrapping Cover

Once all four corners are trimmed, glue out the edges of your cover paper. Do this on the scrap paper, and make sure to brush the glue all the way to the edge of the cover paper.

Using the bone folder to make sure good contact is achieved, fold the paper over the press down smoothly, squeezing all excess glue out.

Repeat for all sides.

Step 13: Step 13: Attach Your Accordion to the Cover

To attach your accordion to your cover, you will need your bone folder, paintbrush, adhesive, and scrap paper.

Turn your accordion over on scrap paper and glue out the back of one side. Make sure to brush the glue all the way to the edge.

Center this glued out side of the accordion on one of the covers. Using the bone folder, press down smoothly and firmly.

Step 14: Step 14: Glue Down End Sheet

If you have enough excess accordion paper, you can choose to skip this step. However, I think it makes a more complete looking book, and it will give your accordion a stronger hold on the cover.

On scrap paper, brush glue over the entire back of your end sheet. Lay over the accordion paper on the inside cover. Using a bone folder, press down smoothly and firmly.

Step 15: Step 15: Back Cover and End Sheet

Repeat steps 13 and 14 to attach the back cover to the book. To ensure no glue gets on your book while gluing out the back page of the accordion, place scrap paper in your book while brushing on the glue. When you have finished brushing the glue on, remove this paper.

Pay particular attention to lining the back cover up with the front, so that they match up.

Step 16: Step 16: Let Book Dry and Enjoy!

Since I used wet glue, after the book was assembled, I placed some paper towels withing the book to absorb the moisture, and then placed the book under some other heavy books to weight it down while drying. This prevents the moisture in the book from warping the book, and undoing all my careful craftsmanship. It took about a day to dry.

I hope this tutorial was clear and helpful, and I hope some of you will share your work in the comments. For other ideas, projects, and creations, please check out my blog, Rocinante Press.

Good luck!