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

Since combining the words origami and Zhen Xian Bao or Chinese Thread Book in my search for the ‘star’ box (flowered candy box) I have come across a number of origami versions of the Zhen Xian Bao. The earliest example I found was in Sarah Marshall’s images from a workshop given by Hedi Kyle in 2008 at PBI.

This version of a Chinese Thread Book has been taught in workshops since then by Lori Sauer and Erin Sweeney. Many others have developed their own versions.

You can follow Paula Beardell Kreig through her step-by-step process beginning here,

or check out bookmanpete’s version on his website here,

or learn to make yet another version from this Paper Kawaii video.

My personal favourite of all the creative paper-folding renditions of the Zhen Xian Bao is posted on Paula Versnick’s website.

Not only does it feature the origami box that had started all this, the entire structure interlocks so that no glue is necessary to hold the thread book together. A pdf of the instructions is provided on the website or you can download my copy here.

Now for the fourth layer of my version of a Chinese Thread Book:

The pdf for the fourth layer box is here. There are two pages, each one showing a version of the box. Images on-line show both forms, as well as a few other variants. You can make either version, though I made my fourth layer boxes based on the page one design. Even if you choose to do likewise, the design on page two will come in handy next week for the bottom layer: the big box.

I cut two pieces of paper to match the outer dimensions shown on the first page of the pdf, then scored, cut, and folded. The yellow paper is a Tibetan lokta paper. It is about the same weight as the Indian paper I used for all the previous layers, but softer. I suspect it is closer to the kind of paper used in many of the Zhen Xian Bao shown on-line.

To assemble the box I held down the centre of the end flap,

folded in the side flap and put glue on the tab indicated by the pointy finger,

then stuck the tab down.

I repeated the process for the other three corners, then for the four corners on the second box.

If I make another thread book, I will glue the tabs on the inside of the box. This would provide a more even surface for the next step — gluing the third layer boxes to the two fourth layer boxes. Here’s a picture taken while I waited for glue to dry,

and another showing the fourth layer box open after assembly.

If you like, you can make more layers using the same pattern. Many of the Zhen Xian Bao have multiple rectangular pockets, as shown in this photo taken by Rachel Marsden.

More book arts news:

D&B Books in England have re-issued Edward Johnston’s wonderful book, Writing & Illuminating & Lettering. This edition has an introduction by Paul Felton, who has re-designed the book to give a more contemporary look while retaining all the original content. I already own a second-hand copy of the 1977 Pitman Publishing Limited facsimile edition or I would be buying this!

The language in the text is old-fashioned, but the information and the illustrations are timeless. You can learn more about this new edition and purchase a copy by going to the publisher’s website.






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

  1. Another great post. I will definitely be linking to this the next time I write about the Zhen Xian Bao. I love that you put all these resources together. I looking forward to diving into each one of them. Thanks for sharing all of this!


  2. Pingback: Revisiting the Zhen Xian Bao: Part 2 | Byopia Press

  3. Origami has a full length video demonstration of Paula Versnick’s Chinese thread book. I got very frustrated trying to follow Paula’s instructions since they were just drawings with no written component, but Origamitutorials executes those instructions perfectly and I was able to make several boxes just watching the video. I like Paula’s technique because it does not require cutting or glueing.


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