Best Paper Folding Books

Best Paper Folding Books

I have collected books about paper folding, paper engineering and paper design for over 30 years. I began my quest at The Strand in NYC when I lived there in late 80’s/early 90’s. And then I moved to Portland, OR where I discovered the paper craft section at Powell’s Books, ooh la la! I always find a few gems there. I am embarrassed to admit that I have not yet visited The Tattered Cover in my new(ish) home state, but hey, I live 2 hours from Denver!

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Some of these books were written awhile ago, but they still have great content! Others are out of print, but you can still find used copies. This list is just the tip of the iceberg. I’ll be posting another round-up featuring more books on the subject. Let me know if you have a favorite book about paper folding, and I’ll consider adding it to this list.

Greeting Cards, A Collection from Around the World

Edited by Takenobu Igarashi, 1989
This book is a visual catalog of 300 innovative paper designs from more than 180 designers from around the world. Filled with inspiration, the selection of wedding, birth, and moving announcements, party invitations and holiday cards push the boundaries of graphic design, especially when you consider these designs are from the pre-digital age! Post digital-age pricing is a plus: I purchased this book at NY Central Art Supply in NYC for $34.95 in the late 80’s. Click the link and you’ll be in for a nice surprise!

Three Dimensional Graphics

Edited by Keizo Matsui, 1987
I love the title of this book and it makes me wonder when the phrase paper engineering came to be. This is another visual catalog that features pop-ups, fold-outs, accordion structures, and packaging ideas. These are all from the mid 1900’s but look contemporary. 120 innovative paper pieces by designers from around the world all featuring three-dimensional elements. These days, getting a letter is really special, but getting a three-dimensional card is even better!

Collapsible: The Genius of Space-Saving Design

Per Mollerup, 2001
The jacket of this book features words describing unique ways that designers have utilized space-saving techniques: compact, compress, condense, contract, deflate, decrease, reduce, implode, wrinkle, pucker, bundle, enclose, break down, ball up, draw in, fold, collapse. The designs featured in this book are not limited to paper, but they will intrigue your imagination. Think blow-up chair, slide rule, nesting fork/knife/spoon, pocket knife, tent and more!

Folding Techniques for Designers, From Sheet to Form

Paul Jackson, 2011
You might call this extreme origami. After postgraduate studies in London, Paul Jackson sent proposals to teach origami to schools with fashion, textile, graphic design and jewelry design departments, and they were into it! He has since taught sheet to form workshops around the world, and this book is filled with ideas for designers working with any kind of sheet material. This is a how-to book with instructions. Bonus! There’s a DVD included with the book, so you can print out the folding patterns.

Paper Folding Templates for Print Design

Trish Witkowski, 2011
This book is filled with inspiration for graphic designers (and book artists). Witkowski catalogs the basic folds most commonly used in graphic design (accrordion, gate, map, and roll folds to name a few), discusses paper types, qualities and sheet sizes, shows examples of printed matter and provides diagrams for how each fold works, along with ideas for pushing boundaries and saving money when designing for print. Check out Trish Witkowski’s 60 Second Super Cool Fold of the Week videos.

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  1. […] Who knew paper could do that? Origami tessellations and kusudamas! Then a round-up of paper folding books by Helen Hiebert. […]

  2. Sharon Fraser says:

    Thanks for this wonderful selection of paper folding books. Could you suggest some papers, especially inkjet printable, that will not crack when folded?

  3. Rodger Despres says:

    My hobby is making structurally designed paper model freight trains, without glue. I would be happy to share some pictures with you and information about their development.
    Thank you,

  4. Rodger Despres says:

    I make structurally designed paper model freight trains for a hobby, no glue. I would be happy to send you pictures and a short video of my work.