It works, it works!

Last week I showed the first stages in designing an artist’s book using a hexatetraflexagon — a square flexagon with six faces. The project is complete, although there was a point at which I had my doubts.

Last Wednesday, October 16, was Oscar Wilde‘s birthday. It was also the day that I reached 50,000 views for the year on this blog, so this little book is a celebration of both those things.

I am especially fond of the hexatetraflexagon because it is made from a single sheet of square paper without any adhesive. You might want to make a practice model before tackling the actual book.

Start with a square sheet of paper. I used 20# copy paper for mine. I wouldn’t recommend anything heaver than 24#, as the folds would become too bulky for the flexagon to function properly.

Fold your square in half horizontally, and position your paper with the fold at the top.

Fold the bottom edge of the top layer up to the fold at the top.

Turn your paper over, then fold the bottom edge of the new top layer up to the top fold.

Open your paper flat, rotate 90°, then repeat the first three folds.

Reverse all the folds, creasing firmly. This will make it easier to complete the flexagon.         Cut out the centre four squares.

Begin making your flexagon by folding the left edge in to the middle.

Fold the top down to the middle.

Fold the right side in to the middle.

Fold the bottom edge up to the middle.

Now comes the tricky bit. All four corners of the flexagon need to be identical, so the fold at the left edge of the bottom section needs to be tucked under the layer below. Open the bottom fold, then fold it up again while gently pushing the fold at the left edge up and under the left-hand section.

You have completed the step correctly when your flexagon looks like this:

To print your Oscar Wilde book, download Wilde square for printing on an 8.5″ square, or Wilde A4 for printing on an A4 width square. If you are loading your paper manually, make sure that the edges indicated by the pointy fingers stay in the same position relative to the paper feed.

Cut your square and print. Fold and cut as per the instructions above for the blank hexatetraflexagon. The two sides should look like the images below.

Start your folding with the green-printed side up.

To operate your flexagon, open it first on the vertical join.

The second opening is horizontal.

Open vertically again.

Opening horizontally again will return you to the first ‘page’. To find the fifth and sixth ‘pages’, open the first page along the horizontal.

Open on the vertical join.

to return to page one takes two more moves: open horizontally first,

then vertically.

And there you are, back at the beginning.


There are a few reasons that your flexagon may not work properly. Extreme care and precision are needed for the cutting and folding for it to work perfectly. Take your time and be careful.

Your printer may not let you get accurate enough registration. If this is the problem, you may want to print two copies and glue them together. To make operating the flexagon easier in this case, I would cut out the individual squares and glue them on, leaving a little less bulk at the folds.

If you get really desperate, here’s a jpeg of Oscar. You could size it, print it, cut it in pieces, glue in the appropriate locations, and write everything else by hand!

A simple square envelope would make a good enclosure, so here’s a jpeg for that as well

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

14 Responses to It works, it works!

  1. gycouture says:

    thank you Cathryn !!


  2. dinahmow says:

    When we’ve finished re-staining the floor and moved all the furniture back and I’ve sorted through my paper stash(es) [don’t ask!]…I might give this a whirl. Thank you.


  3. NOt only brilliant, but wonderful too. Looking forward to trying this out. (Unsurprisingly, I have been playing around with an unusual flexagon this week too.)


  4. Brilliant, you are so clever with these things!

    – Esme Cloud enjoying the folds as ever


  5. Araceli Vázquez says:

    Muy ingenioso e interesante. Me gustó mucho.


  6. Pingback: Foldworks

  7. Pingback: A Few Flexagons | Byopia Press

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