How To Make A Paper Fortune Teller (and Basil Pesto)

As I mentioned on Friday when I posted a simple book binding video, some of you are looking for projects to share with children or grandchildren. I first learned to make paper fortune tellers when I was eight, and my friends and I had a lot of fun with them. Since I recently designed a fortune teller for the map book, I thought I would share it today as a small celebration of a blog anniversary: views of this blog passed the 20,000 mark a couple of weeks ago, and the number of visitors should pass the 10,000 mark sometime in the next couple of weeks.

I have included a more traditional version in the pdf as well.

First, print the pdf. Download the 8.5 ” here, the A4 here. You can just print the page for the fortune teller you want to make, or both of them, or all three pages. The final page is a scoring guide that I will refer to later in the instructions, but I printed it out and used it to check if my printer was accurate.

When I folded to check if the paper was square (it wasn’t), I also discovered that the print was a little bit low on the page. To correct both problems, I used a set square to trim the top of the page, and then to cut the paper square.

Folding the fortune teller takes a few simple steps. Start by folding your paper in half vertically,

open flat, then fold horizontally.

Open the paper flat again, and with the blank side up, fold the corners in to the centre.

Turn the square over so that you have the side with the words on top, and fold the corners in to the centre.

Turn the square over and fold along the middle vertically, then horizontally, before opening the pockets.

In this position, the structure you have made is an origami salt cellar. To make it easier to insert your thumbs and forefingers into the pockets to operate the fortune teller, you can unfold it and score the red lines from the printed guide (page three), then re-fold it; or you can just pinch the fortune teller firmly and open and close it several times.

To operate the fortune teller, place your thumbs and index fingers inside the pockets. You will be able to hold the fortune teller in several positions: closed, open horizontally, and open vertically.

Starting in the closed position, have someone ask a question (this could  be you) and pick a colour or symbol*.

Spell out the word chosen while alternately opening the fortune teller vertically and horizontally —or vice versa. Stop with the fortune teller open on the last letter.

Have the questioner pick a number or symbol from the four that are visible. If you are using my version, you can go directly to the answer by lifting the flap with the selected symbol and reading the answer underneath. (Please note that each inside flap has two symbols and therefore two answers. Be sure to pick the answer directly below the chosen symbol.)

If you are using the traditional model with numbers, you can prolong the suspense by again opening and closing the fortune teller the appropriate number of times (four times for 4, seven times for 7, etc.), before letting the questioner pick a final number and reading the answer underneath.

*The outer symbols on my version are alchemical signs for the four seasons. Some people think they were formed from the astrological signs for the months for each quarter of the year.

I remember which is which this way: Spring looks like a seed germinating, Summer looks like a bowl you might pick veggies into, Autumn looks like a tree bent down with a heavy crop of fruit, and Winter looks like falling snowflakes seen through a door or window frame.

You can read a little more about paper fortune tellers here, and find other ones to print and make here. Or you can fold a blank piece of paper and decorate it yourself and write your own fortunes. Have fun!


Today’s post was a little delayed because I made dill cheese bread for brunch. It was further delayed because we made another batch of pesto this morning. I thought you might like the recipe.

Basil Pesto (bulk recipe — makes approximately 2 ⅓ cups)

Note: We have found that it is worth the extra money to buy the best ingredients for this. A little pesto goes quite a long way and it really does taste better when made with good olive oil and the best Parmesan cheese.

To clean basil for pesto making, David pulls the plant, rinses gently under the garden hose, then puts stalks in a bucket of water to air dry.

We grate the cheese first using the food processor and then just leave it in the bottom of the container.

Add the garlic and the basil leaves (the 4 cups of leaves loosely fills the bowl of our processor) and process with the cheese until the leaves are all coarsely chopped.

Add the salt, olive oil, and pine nuts and process to your desired consistency. We like ours with some texture, but you can make it smoother.

Pack in small containers (we freeze in units of ⅓ cup) lined with plastic wrap and covered to keep air out.

David discovered that the tamper for our espresso machine does an excellent job of levelling the pesto and pressing out air!

Freeze, then pack together in a large plastic bag with as much of the air removed as possible. Thaw as required, keeping as much air as possible out. (You can cover in a layer of olive oil.) If the outer layer goes brown, don’t worry: it will still taste OK, and the inside will still be green.

If you don’t have huge amounts of basil available, you can divide the recipe by four or even eight. One eighth of the recipe is enough pesto for two servings of pasta.

The smell of basil in the house is wonderful!








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 Design, free printable, instructions and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to How To Make A Paper Fortune Teller (and Basil Pesto)

  1. dinahmow says:

    mmmm…fresh basil! We eat so much of it;every night, a few leaves added to salad, and .of course, any pasta dish.
    And I remember those fortune tellers from 60 something years ago! I used to “corner” mine with native trees.
    Now, I’d better water the basil!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks Cathryn for the memories!


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