How I accidentally invented The Shrigley Binding

(with apologies to Benjamin Elbel.)

I have been playing with little squares of paper again, making components for paper ‘quilts’. Some of the designs come from Tomoko Fuse, though the basic ones may be traditional. I have also played with my own variations.

Here is one of the basic units.

Fuse’s folding is simple, but I arrived at the same result a little differently. I will show my  method later, but for now here’s Tomoko Fuse’s version:

These units are connectors for linking together other parts of the paper ‘quilt’.

I was looking at one of them and thought “I could turn in the corners to make a frame.”

Here it is with an insert page.

I looked at the resulting structure and thought “I could do those corners on a larger page.” I scored half inch borders, and folded the corners based on those. Then I thought “If I cut off the corners instead of tucking them in, and cut an identical slit in the layer below, I could mount things on both sides.”

Wait a minute: this looks awfully familiar!

I went on the web and looked up Benjamin Elbel’s Shrigley binding.

Yup, there it was:

For further confirmation, here’s a picture of one Erin Fletcher made. (Her version has a double slit at the corner.)

So I have invented something, but it is nothing new. I am not the only one to have re-invented it as it turns out, though Sue Roddis was doing it on purpose.

I arrived at a folding pattern based on origami traditions, so my version is slightly different. Here are the steps I followed:

Score a line 1.25 cm (0.5″) in from the edge of all four sides of your paper. Fold each edge toward the centre, then open again.

Bring two adjacent sides together at a corner and fold down and to a point. You can make this a little easier by pinching the corner diagonally first (see crease indicated by green pointy finger), or scoring the corner square diagonally. Repeat with all the other corners.

To make the final corner fold easier, re-fold each corner point in the opposite direction.

Now fold each point towards the centre by spreading and flattening it. You should now have a little square on the surface at each corner.

Open the paper flat and fold the corners toward the centre by reversing the diagonal folds that cross your original scoring lines. Pierce holes where the edges of the corners cross the score lines.

With the corners folded down, cut from hole to hole at each corner, cutting through both the folded top layer and the bottom layer with the holes. You can see the cut at the top left corner. The bottom right corner shows the cut paper folded back into its final position.

If you would rather work by scoring all the fold lines first, here’s a guide. I have not indicated mountain and valley folds, but they become obvious. (You can see mountain and valley folds indicated on Tomoko Fuse’s folding instructions near the beginning of the post.) You can fold in the corners and do the piercing and cutting step before any of the other folds are made.

The scoring method would be more suitable for heavier papers. It also avoids having a diagonal fold through the middle of the corner piece.

You can make your mounting pages any size, and out of any paper. I think papers with little or no grain direction would be preferable. If your paper is fairly soft, you could hide a stiffener inside the frame, tucking its edges under the border turn-ins. You might also want to add guards if you are sewing the pages together. (You can see guards in the image of Erin Fletcher’s version.)

Benjamin Elbel’s Shrigley is sewn together. Next week I will post some alternative methods for connecting pages.

In other book arts news:

If you are interested in learning to do brush calligraphy (much easier since the invention of the brush-tip felt pen), I found a good basic tutorial here. It contains clearly drawn guides to letter formation, and some helpful tips.

In knitting news:

I finished the open-front cardigan. Blocking fixed most of the wonkiness, though I did end up ‘cheating’ a bit. I stitched down the back of the collar to keep it lying flat. I may also go back and run a support thread through the front edges to keep them from stretching and bagging.

And just because I haven’t done one for a while —last, but not least— a recipe:

Mexican Lasagna

The weather was colder last week, and there were things in the fridge that needed using before they were completely past it, so I made a Mexican Lasagna. You can do this with any traditional lasagna filling. The key to making it Mexican is that I use flour tortillas instead of lasagna noodles.

You will need:

6 large flour tortillas                                                                                                                                1 jar of prepared pasta sauce or homemade equivalent                                                                    filling                                                                                                                                                      grated cheese

My filling this week consisted of two cooking onions, half a dozen large brown mushrooms, the remains of a bok choy (about half a large one), half a yellow sweet pepper, leftover turkey (about three cups after chopping),  and a couple of generous spoonfuls of Ranchera Sauce (hot). After chopping all the ingredients fairly small, I sauteed everything together in a couple of spoonfuls of olive oil, cooking until the onions were clear and the mushrooms had lost most of their moisture.

I spread about a third of a jar of prepared pasta sauce in the bottom of the pan and laid in one and a half tortillas.

I spread a third of the filling over the tortillas, then laid down another one and a half tortillas on top of the filling, with the half tortilla at the other end of the pan. I repeated twice more, ending with a layer of tortillas. Four layers of tortillas, three layers of filling.

The rest of the pasta sauce was spread on top, the pan was covered with aluminum foil, and then baked at 350F/177C/Gas Mark 4 for 30 minutes. I uncovered the pan and topped with grated cheese (this time I happened to have a chunk of Swiss) and put back in the oven until the cheese was melted. (N.B. If your filling is cold when you assemble the lasagna, you might want to increase the baking time by up to 15 minutes to make sure everything is heated through.)

This made enough for four generous servings. You could stretch it farther by serving a larger salad and/or other side dishes. Enjoy!


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.
This entry was posted in artist's books, book arts, bookbinding, DIY, instructions and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to How I accidentally invented The Shrigley Binding

  1. dinahmow says:

    I have “pink shoe envy.”


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  3. this folding you are showing is so delightful, I don’t even have the words for it. ❤


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  5. Awesome, you rock! 🙂 The book you mention, Fuse: It seems I should know the reference. Is it something you discovered searching for the chinese sewing box thingie? IS it an origami book?
    And I love the hat! 🙂


    • Byopia Press says:

      Tomoko Fuse is probably best known for her three-D modular origami (especially kusudama) and for her Spiral Fold. The flat modular origami quilt units were found while looking for ideas for manipulating fabric, though I also have an ongoing interest in modular books. ; ]
      You can find an on-line copy of her quilt book here:
      Lots of her books are still in print.
      I am delighted with the hat: unlike all my other summer hats, this one will not be damaged by getting a little wet, and it was even made in Canada (Montréal) which I consider a plus these days!


  6. Linda Tanaka says:

    Cathyrn – you totally rock that outfit! Love your shrigley too.


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  11. Sharmini says:

    Hi 👋🏽,

    Awesome 👏🏽 😎 post. I must read again to get a hang of the binding. I love the pix of you in the cardigan. Great 👍🏽 work and you look snazzy! Great blog posting ending with the lasagna recipe of left overs and left over tortillas 😋 Thanks 😊🙏🏽very much for sharing.


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  13. Lorena says:

    just found this post and its a delight! I love the folding technique and can’t wait to try it.
    I like your style 🙂


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  15. Pingback: … and on, and on, and … | Byopia Press

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