Making a Zhen Xian Bao/Chinese Thread Book: Part Three

The origami forum with the image of Laurent Sui’s gift for Madame Burgos (see previous post) mentioned a book by Maying Soong, The Art of Chinese Paper Folding. It even provided a link to an on-line copy which I immediately downloaded. If you are interested in the whole book, you can download a copy from my files here. If you are only interested in what Maying Soong calls a ‘flowered candy box’, I have a separate pdf with just those instructions here.

I found Figure 200 B rather confusing but managed to work it out by looking at a photo of a completed box on my computer while I attempted it. As you can see by the image at the beginning of the post, I was (somewhat untidily) successful. If you try this at home and get stuck and then ask for help, I might be persuaded to post a set of photo instructions in the future.

Of course, once the Pinterest search bot figured out what it was I had been searching for, I got dozens more suggested pins that involve what Ruth Smith and I called the ‘star box’. These included a set of instructions on a German origami forum created by forum member origami_8,

a video demonstrating a Zhen Xian Bao that looks like the one made by Laurent Sui,

and pictures from Allen Ball’s 2001 exhibition  of large scale paper folding based on Maying Soong’s book. (The flowered candy box is nowhere in evidence.)

The search bot would occasionally guess wrong, which was entertaining.

I discovered that there are lots of used copies of Maying Soong’s book available through the internet, and that you can order a reprint from Dover Publications under a different title.

If you only want an ebook, you can download the pdf from the link earlier in this post!

I also found more origami versions of the fold and of the entire Zhen Xian Bao, and will write more about that in a later post.

On to the third layer of my Zhen Xian Bao:

You can download a pdf of the third layer box here. If you are trying this at home and your second layer boxes are three inches on a side, the template in the pdf will fit. Since this is a moving joint, I made the tabs a half inch wide which gives a larger attachment surface.

Paula Beardell Krieg’s photographs were extremely useful, as they showed not only how Ed Hutchins’ Zhen Xian Bao opened, but also how it had been put together.

The rectangular box under two square boxes (the third layer in my version) is attached by making tabs and gluing them to the underside of the square box. The image above shows what looks to me like a thicker layer where the side tabs join the end tab. I did some experimenting and found two ways that the end might be produced.

One can either slit the end, or fold the end into shape. I chose to do the slit version for my  two third layer boxes.

The pdf shows score lines on the side panels of the box, but I just folded the sides by bringing the fold at the tab end out to meet the side fold of the box.

I then glued the corners the way I had on the previous layers,

and attached one square second layer box (opening away from the middle) at each end.

Come back next Sunday for Layer Four!

In book arts news:

The Peter Koch retrospective continues until October 15, 2017 at Green Library, Stanford University. From the website:

Koch, whose training, influences, and achievements place him in the lineage of San Francisco literary fine press printers, has long been recognized as one of the most accomplished printers and typographic designers of his generation. The works on display, published between 1974 and 2016, span wide-ranging territory, from cowboy surrealism to pre-Socratic philosophy, and from contemporary and Renaissance poetry to hard-hitting photo-based requiems to the American West.

You can find more information here.

In other news:

The weather is not as hot as it was, but it is still warm enough to justify the occasional cold supper.

This is a variation on a cold pasta dish I make from time to time.

In the version shown above I used a spicy Havarti cheese that I had in the fridge, substituted cherry tomatoes for regular tomatoes, and added some cold broad (fava) beans that were leftover from supper the day before. I also cooked the macaroni ahead and, after mixing it in, let the whole dish chill in the fridge for an hour. Just before supper I garnished it with nasturtium flowers. (Yes, you can eat them; they’re spicy.)

I also make a winter version. I use tinned or frozen tomatoes if the greenhouse ones in the grocery store are too expensive or not very nice; mix the tomatoes, garlic, and oil together and let them blend; add the pasta hot; then add about 1/3 cup of pesto (instead of fresh basil) and the mozzarella and toss well before serving.

If you want to save the recipe, there’s a downloadable pdf here.













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 artist's books, book arts, Design, free printable, instructions and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Making a Zhen Xian Bao/Chinese Thread Book: Part Three

  1. What a great post! I;m totally excited that you discovered and posted the copy of Maying Soong’s book.Now, here’s my story about how I found it. Like you, I was completely intent upon discovering directions for the flower top box, and kept finding and trying out directions that were not exactly it. Even though I could look at the ones that are part of Ed’s Zhen Xian Bao, there was no way I could figure out the sequence of folds by looking at the structure. Then I saw this photo
    and suspected that the book in the case might have the directions I was looking for. It didn’t take long to find old copies of the book, and I ordered one. I was so excited. Then disappointed. As I looked through the book, no, there was no directions for the flower top box. Despondent, I set it aside. Days later I picked it up again, to see what it might have that I might like. On closer inspection I saw that there in fact was one page that looked like it had something of what I was looking for, but it didn’t make sense. Looking even closer I realized that page 101-116 were missing from the book! Ahh!!! So I ordered another one. Finally, success. Whew.


    • Byopia Press says:

      How frustrating that your first copy had missing pages. Sounds like the previous owner may have just kept those pages as the flowered candy box was the only thing they were interested in. Like you and me!


  2. Pingback: Workshop at the Met | Playful Bookbinding and Paper Works

  3. Pingback: Zhen Xian Bao Workshop Prep – Playful Bookbinding and Paper Works

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 )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter 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.