Flexagons

I am teaching a workshop today entitled Accordion and Fold Books. The last part of the workshop will deal with flexagons, and I thought you might like to play along and make a trihexaflexagon.

The original for this pattern came from My Moleskine, but is no longer available on the site. Start by printing out the pdf. (A thinner paper will works best for this project. I used 20# copy paper.) Your page should look like this:

I have provided two copies of the flexagon so that if you get into trouble making the first one you will have a spare. If everything goes well you will be able to make two copies —one for you, and one for a friend.

Cut the page in half lengthwise. Take one of the halves and score the dotted lines: the straight one down the length of the pattern and all the diagonals. You will need a ruler and a scoring tool of some sort. A non-serrated table knife will work just fine.

Cut out the pattern along the outer edge, being as precise as possible. You can do it with scissors, but a metal ruler and an Olfa snap-off blade knife or an Exacto knife will probably do a better job. You should have something that looks like this:

The completed flexagon will be easier to manipulate if the paper is accustomed to folding, so you will need to fold all the scored lines first in one direction and then the other.

The next step is to glue the smaller side of the piece to the larger side.

Apply glue (I used a glue stick) to the white, non-printed side of the smaller (upper) portion and fold together along the centre line indicated by the green pointy fingers. You will have a patterned strip with a white unprinted triangle at each end. Place the strip in front of you with the white triangle side down.

To assemble the flexagon, you need to fold the strip into a hexagon. Place the strip horizontally with the two white triangles on the under side.

Fold end A up and over at the dotted line.

Rotate your strip so it matches the image above. Fold end B under and up. Tuck end A under end B.

Glue the white triangle at end A onto the white triangle at end B., and you have your flexagon: a two sided object with three surfaces!

You may want to let your glue set/dry for a few minutes before starting to operate your flexagon.

Flatten all the folds firmly. To rotate the surfaces, pinch down three alternating points of the flexagon. A gap should appear at the upper tip. (If it doesn’t, try folding down the other three points.) Open this gap and flatten the new surface. To find the third surface, repeat the process. Flatten the flexagon again. Once the flexagon has been used a few times, you will not have to keep flattening the folds. The paper will get used to bending and sliding into place.

Since pictures can be more useful than words at explaining this kind of thing, here’s a short video by dutchpapergirl showing the working of a trihexaflexagon.

 

 

If you would like to make a trihexaflexagon with a different pattern you can download a printable copy here. If you would like to make other kinds of flexagons, there are printable templates here.

Or, if you would rather learn a little about basic bookbinding instead, you could sign up for the Skillshare online class offered by my friend Hilke Kurzke.

 

 

About Byopia Press

I have been working in the book arts field for more than twenty years, and operating Byopia Press with my husband David since the late 1990s. I began producing artist's books and altered books in 2004.
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