How to make a paper coin purse

Last Sunday afternoon, while in Toronto, I gave a workshop at TYPOLOGY Projects. It was called Folded Paper Projects and those who attended were taught how to make a number of enclosures which can be used for letters, as containers for flat objects included in books, or as gift wraps for small items. Most of the pieces were straight origami using either square or rectangular paper. One item, the paper coin purse, involved some cutting and gluing. Since it was one of the favourites last Sunday afternoon I thought I would share it here today.

Here is the coin purse closed:


The first thing to do is decide what size purse you would like to make. The finished purse will be the size of one square on the diagram below.

For your first attempt, you may want to mark the lines in pencil. Your other option (the one I use to avoid marks on the inside of the purse) is to score the lines. You can use a butter knife or non-serrated table knife if you don’t own a scoring tool.

The next step is to cut all the lines marked in red on the diagram. Be careful not to go above the dotted line when cutting the bottom flaps.

It is best to fold all the mountain folds (the folds that stick up towards you when the paper is opened out) first as they will act as guidelines when you move on to making the diagonal (dashed line) valley folds. Make sure that you crease the paper firmly as this will help when closing your purse for the first time. You can use a bone folder if you have one, the side of a butter knife or table knife, or just press and slide along the fold with the side of your thumbnail. The valley folds are trickier than the mountain folds, so here are a couple of pictures showing how to do them.

When you have finished all the folds your paper should look like this:

The paper has to be glued to form a box. The easiest way to start is to fold the paper in half. You can now put some glue —glue stick is easy to use for this— on the tab and stick it to the other end of the paper. Before gluing it should look like this:

You should have a square paper tube with flaps at one end. You need to glue the flaps together to create the bottom of the purse. I like to fold them over one after another, working my way around the tube, but you can really do them in any order you want. Make sure that the glue reaches all the edges of the flap to make the bottom of the purse quite secure.

When you are finished gluing all the flaps the purse should look like this:

Now comes the exciting part: closing the purse for the first time!

You need to push in on the diagonal folds, while exerting a slightly twisting downward pressure. The top should twist and collapse as it shuts. Once it starts twisting, you can push down gently on the top. This is trickiest the first time, but gets easier after that, especially if you re-crease all the folds while the purse is closed.

There is an origami version of this structure that can be made from a square of paper with no cutting and gluing. The instructions come with a video that shows opening and closing the box. You may find it helpful.


If you want your purse to be re-usable, you can make it out of Tyvek, or very thin leather, or non-fraying fabric.




About Byopia Press

I have been working in the book arts field for more than thirty years, and operating Byopia Press with my husband David since the late 1990s. I began producing artist's books and altered books in 2004. I also create prints and drawings that are frequently text-inspired or text-based.
This entry was posted in book arts and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to How to make a paper coin purse

  1. annie! says:

    very cool…thank you!


  2. Peggy T says:

    Haven’t a creative cell in my brain but I made two of these this morning thanks to your extremely helpful instructions. Made them on a two-inch base using 65-lb. paper. Worked well but next time I’ll try lighter-weight paper. Thank you so much!


  3. Pingback: Making a Zhen Xian Bao/Chinese Thread Book | Byopia Press

  4. Pingback: Byopia Press 2018 Advent Calendar: Day Eighteen and Four Versions of A Twist-Close Box | Byopia Press

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.