With July 7, the beginning of Tanabata celebrations in Japan, still a couple of days away, I thought I would re-post one of my favourite previous Tanabata projects, a DIY star-themed artist’s book from 2018. An accordion with interlocked diamond-shaped pages, it unfolds into a six point star.
From the original post (slightly edited):
The design on the outside of the pages (shown above) is a digital alteration of a small portion of Vincent Van Gogh’s The Starry Night. The text is the final poem, “A Clear Midnight”, from the “From Noon to Starry Night” section in the 1881 edition of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. The structure is based on origami paper quilt folds designed by Tomoko Fuse. I have converted the module patterns from something achieved by folding and then cutting to something that can be printed first, then cut, folded, and assembled.
To make your own copy of the book, print out the pdf which you will find here. I used 24# (90 gsm) copier paper, but 20# (74 gsm) will do. If you decide to shrink the printout, be sure to do it the same amount for all the parts. (The layout should fit both 8.5 x 11″ and A4 paper sizes unless your printer has wider than average margins.)
The first page of the pdf should be printed 3 times.
The second page should be printed once.
Printing the third page is optional: it shows the fold patterns for the three units that are used to construct the book.
Cut out all the parts. This needs to be done carefully and accurately by cutting exactly along the edge of the printed areas. I found it was helpful —particularly for the text rectangles— to work under a bright light. You will also need to keep track of the Van Gogh painting parts: they come in mirror-image pairs! (There will be one extra blue diamond: you can discard it or use it to lock the book in a circle.)
All the parts must now be folded. Start with the Van Gogh painting pieces. You can find the placement of the folds in two different ways; pick the one that makes the most sense to you. The first alternative is to mark a cross where a line from tip to tip lengthwise would intersect a line from notch to notch. (The mark will be covered in the completed book.) Fold the side points in to the middle, leaving a gap between wide enough for another layer of paper to be tucked through. (You don’t have to be incredibly precise about this. You do need all the units to be done the same way so that they fit together in a circle.)
Alternatively you can pre-score your fold lines to match the diagram on page 3 of the pdf.
The blue diamond units are easier: the finished shape may be accomplished by folding the piece in half, then folding the tips in to the middle. (Check the diagram to be sure you are folding in the correct direction.) When folding in the tips you need to leave a space in the middle wide enough to permit the unit to function as a hinge: the gap needs to accommodate 8 thicknesses of paper.
If you are not sure of the gap width, take some of the scrap paper left from cutting out your parts and make 8 layers.
For the text pieces, make a small pencil mark on the back at the mid-point, then fold the two ends in to the middle.
Things get easier from here!
To assemble your book, the blue diamond parts need to be interlocked with the painting parts. Open a painting unit out and lay the tip of a blue diamond unit over the bottom corner fold as shown below.
Re-fold the painting unit with the tip of the blue diamond inside the fold.
Attach the first page of text by tucking the upper left flap of the painting unit into the space inside the fold. Repeat with the bottom right flap, including the blue diamond.
Attach the second painting unit to the first by tucking the right hand end of the blue diamond into the bottom left flap. The text is printed at alternate angles so the text unit for the second page is attached by tucking the upper right and lower left flaps of the painting unit into the space between the layers.
I put the pages together with the starry bit at the bottom, but you could put them together with the starry bit at the outer tip, or you could alternate. Just remember to keep the mirror-image pairs together.
The book folds like an accordion, so it may also be read as a codex, in 2 page spreads.
I like accordion books to be contained in some way, so I also designed a cover/case for A Clear Midnight. You will need to download A Clear Midnight cover and print it on cardstock. Full instructions for the cover can be found in this post.
A Clear Midnight is not as fussy to make as it sounds in the description. I hope you have fun with it!