A Few Flexagons

It’s the time of year when some people make resolutions. Today’s first flexagon —in red below— could serve as a reminder to keep one in particular.

This version of a ‘Swiss Cross’ flexagon was created by Kelli Anderson, who you may already know as the brilliant creator of This Book Is A Camera and This Book Is A Planetarium. I loved it so much when I saw it that I asked her for permission to post instructions for making it. Here it is in action.

Kelli’s original post included instructions in the form of this video.


It also includes a pdf with three versions of the flexagon. (You can also download the pdf here.) The only gluing shown attaches sections across a fold, so I assume that the original flexagon is intended to be printed on both sides of a single sheet of paper.

I tried multiple ways to print this. (Eight, nine?) If you have a printer with a duplexer capable of handling cover stock, it might work perfectly. I got one good copy on copier paper by printing one side, flipping the page end for end, then using the manual feed and the printer instruction below to print the second page.

Since I have no idea what kind of printer you have (or whether you have some cover or card stock in the house), I prepared a ‘no fail’ version that prints on one sheet of copier paper. (Since the two halves of the page are glued back to back, 75 gsm/20 lb paper is fine.)

To make my one-side printed version, download this file. Print and score the division between the red and blue backgrounds. Fold in half and glue the two halves together. When the glue has dried, cut out the flexagon along the edges of the blue side.

Kelli’s instructions indicate cutting the flexagon in several places. I did that with one of my models and found that it came apart rather quickly. If you decide to follow Kelli’s instructions, making the cuts shorter than indicated may make the flexagon last longer.

What worked best for me was scoring most of the lines and only cutting the ones that are overprinted with a red dashed line.

Fold all the scored lines in both directions. Some of the lines will fold best as the flexagon is cycled through all its positions. One more gluing job is required to complete the flexagon: apply glue to the yellowish areas in the photo below.

Fold the flexagon so that it looks like the image below, and press the glued areas firmly. Let the glue dry before you operate your now completed “paper-animated gif”.

I found that I could make the flexagon work more smoothly by trimming the teeniest bit off some of the edges.

Kelli Anderson’s extremely clever flexagon is an adaptation of what Esther K. Smith called a “Swiss Cross” flexagon which is made from two squares of paper or card folded identically, then glued together with one square rotated 90º.

I made a pdf of the Swiss Cross folding pattern if you want to have a printed record.

You could make the Esther K. Smith version and write or draw your own design.


I have posted other flexagons in the past. You can find instructions for a classic tri-hexaflexagon in this post.

If you would like to try my favourite square flexagon, a pdf and instructions for this tribute to Oscar Wilde can be found here.

I created another square flexagon last year. It doesn’t have a printed design yet, but makes a nice fidget toy as it cycles from a square to a sort of elongated diamond and back.

That last flexagon was inspired by the work of Paula Beardell Krieg. She designed a 3D flexagon last year. Here’s my coloured version of her pattern.

You can read about Paula’s flexagon in this post. If you want to make your own version, you can download and colour in Folded-Folly. Here is Paula’s instruction video on how to fold it.


If you just want a glimpse of Folded Folly in action, there is a video in Paula’s post.


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 free printable, instructions, paper toy and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to A Few Flexagons

  1. Love that you are thinking about flexagons. You won’t be surprised that I had been thinking about them just yesterday: was going through some old work, saw I structure I had made a long time ago, and wondered if it was an unintended variation of a flexagon… worked the folds, and saw that it was! It was such a sweet surprise. Looking forward to showing it to you. Now I have lots of your accordion posts to catch up on. Will be picking one out to show to my Saturdays group. Happy New Year, Cathryn .

    Liked by 1 person

    • Byopia Press says:

      I look forward to seeing the new flexagon! And please feel free to share any of the Advent accordion posts you think would be of interest to your group. (Or anyone else.)(Or any of my other posts!)
      ; ]


  2. Jade Q says:

    Hi Cathryn,

    This flexagon was my 1st introduction to flexagons and so holds a special place in my heart. I have seen it in Esther K. Smith’s “Magic Books & Paper Toys” from 2008 (as mentioned) and Alisa Golden’s “Making Handmade Books” from 2010. Have you been able to any further back? I have loved creating it from 1 piece (cut, folded and glued from Alisa’s book), 4 pieces (folded and glued from all over) and 24 pieces of paper (folded only from a Japanese channel on youtube). Also played with a version where the cross is covered up and you have full “pages” on all 4 pages. I love that Kelli’s flexagon is an appropriate sign of the times. Substitute phone to coverall your bases – LOL! It was marvelous that I was able to attend Paula’s class online! I am going to have to try out your flexagon!

    Thank you – Jade


    • Byopia Press says:

      Glad you were able to join Paula and that you enjoyed the flexagon post. I suspect the ‘Swiss Cross is much older than 2008 and Esther K. Smith’s book, but I haven’t really looked. Perhaps I will try that now that I have a little more free time since I’m not preparing a post for every day!
      ; ]


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