A history of iris folding
Iris folding is a papercraft technique that originated in the Netherlands in the 1980s. It involves folding strips of coloured paper in a specific pattern to resemble the iris of a camera, hence the name iris folding. The folded strips are then arranged in a circular pattern to create intricate designs.
The technique was first introduced in the Netherlands as a way to decorate cards, and quickly became popular among paper crafters in the country. It soon spread to other countries, including the UK, where it became a popular hobby among paper crafters and scrapbookers.
Iris folding is considered a versatile technique because it can be used to create a wide range of designs, from simple and abstract to complex and detailed. The folded paper strips can be arranged in different patterns, and different colours can be used to create depth and interest. The technique is also versatile in terms of the materials that can be used, as iris folding can be done with a variety of paper types, including patterned, textured, and metallic paper.
Today, iris folding continues to be a popular papercraft technique around the world, and is widely recognized as a unique and creative form of paper art.
Tools of the iris folding trade
Scissors - Scissors are an essential tool for iris folding. They are used to cut the paper strips to the desired length and shape, which can vary depending on the specific design being created. For example, some designs may require paper strips that are straight and narrow, while others may require strips that are curved or scalloped. Good-quality scissors with sharp blades will make cutting the paper strips easier and more precise.
Ruler - A ruler is used to measure and mark the paper strips to ensure they are the correct size and shape. This is important because the size and shape of the paper strips determine the final appearance of the iris folding design. A ruler can also be used to create straight lines and curves, which can be helpful when cutting the paper strips.
Pencil or pen - A pencil or pen is used to mark the paper strips and make any necessary notes. For example, a crafter may mark where to cut the strips, or make notes about the colour or pattern of the paper being used. A pencil is often preferred because it can be easily erased, but a pen can also be used for more permanent markings.
Glue - Glue is used to secure the paper strips in place and adhere them to the base paper or card. A variety of glues can be used, including liquid glue, double-sided tape, or glue dots. The type of glue used will depend on the specific design and the materials being used. Its important to choose a glue that will not wrinkle or damage the paper, and that will hold the strips securely in place.
Paper templates - Paper templates are used as a guide for cutting and folding the paper strips. These templates can be bought or created by the crafter and may include shapes such as circles, spirals, or intricate patterns. The templates can be used to ensure that the paper strips are the correct size and shape, and that they are arranged in the correct order.
Coloured paper - Coloured paper is used to create the folded strips that form the design. A variety of colours and textures can be used to add interest and depth to the finished project. For example, some designs may use solid-coloured paper, while others may use patterned or textured paper. The colour and texture of the paper can be used to create different effects, such as shading, contrast, or visual interest.
Card or base paper - Card or base paper is used as the foundation for the iris folding design. This can be any type of paper or card, including plain, textured, or patterned paper. The choice of base paper will depend on the specific design and the intended use of the finished project. For example, if the project is a card, a heavier card stock may be used, while a scrapbook page may use lighter-weight paper. The base paper provides a stable surface for the folded paper strips, and sets the stage for the finished iris folding design.
Materials used in iris folding
Coloured paper - This is one of the main materials used in iris folding and is usually the most expensive. Coloured paper can be purchased in a variety of colours and textures, and can range in price from a few pence to several pounds per sheet, depending on the quality and brand. Coloured paper can be found in arts and crafts stores, online, or in specialty paper shops.
Card or base paper - This is the foundation for the iris folding design and can be any type of paper or card, including plain, textured, or patterned paper. The cost of card or base paper can vary depending on the type and brand, but it is usually more affordable than coloured paper. Card or base paper can be found in arts and crafts stores, online, or in stationery shops.
Glue - Glue is used to secure the paper strips in place and adhere them to the base paper or card. Liquid glue, double-sided tape, and glue dots are all commonly used in iris folding, and can be found in arts and crafts stores, online, or in stationery shops. The cost of glue can vary depending on the type and brand, but it is usually relatively inexpensive.
Scissors - Scissors are an essential tool for iris folding, and can range in price from a few pounds to several pounds, depending on the quality and brand. Scissors can be found in arts and crafts stores, online, or in stationery shops.
Ruler - A ruler is used to measure and mark the paper strips, and can range in price from a few pence to a few pounds, depending on the quality and brand. Rulers can be found in arts and crafts stores, online, or in stationery shops.
Pencil or pen - A pencil or pen is used to mark the paper strips and make any necessary notes, and can range in price from a few pence to a few pounds, depending on the quality and brand. Pencils and pens can be found in arts and crafts stores, online, or in stationery shops.
Paper templates - Paper templates are used as a guide for cutting and folding the paper strips, and can range in price from a few pounds to several pounds, depending on the quality and brand. Templates can be purchased from iris folding supply companies, online, or from arts and crafts stores. Alternately, templates can be created by the crafter using a combination of card or base paper, a pencil or pen, and a ruler.
Techniques of iris folding
Find a pattern you like and feel would be popular.
Print or draw the pattern and then cut out. If you want to use the pattern multiple times, make sure it is on card or laminate the paper.
Take your larger piece of card and place the printed pattern in the middle. Trace around the pattern and then cut out the hole. Turn the card onto its back, where you will be attaching the folds.
On the pattern you will see the number of colours you need. Cut your smaller coloured cards into 1.5 inch wide strips and then fold (not in half) to about 1/3. Make sure you have a sharp crease.
Place the pattern on board and place the larger card (with the hole cut in it) over the pattern, so the the pattern can be seen through the hole. Tape the card down to the board on one side, like a hinge.
Follow the pattern placing creased coloured card on the correct numbered parts of the pattern, until all the numbers parts of the pattern have been covered.
Place a piece in the centre triangle.
Tape over the folds so that they are flat and secure.
You can either back the finish iris design or place into a book using acid free double sided tape.
Tips and tricks of iris folding
Cut a small piece of each coloured card you are using and stick it onto the pattern, so that you remember which colour related to which number. You could also write the number on the back of the card strip cut.
Once you have finished the iris, you will have a triangular hole in the middle, you could put a photograph, holographic paper or other item of interest here.
Ideas and inspiration for iris folding
Iris folding is a delightful paper craft technique that involves folding strips of coloured paper in a spiral pattern, resembling the iris of a camera or an eye. Its origins are rooted in the Netherlands, but its appeal is universal. For crafters in the UK looking to employ this method for craft fairs, here are some captivating ideas:
Occasion Cards: Makers can craft an assortment of greeting cards using iris folding. Birthdays, anniversaries, or festive occasions – the technique lends itself beautifully to varied themes. For instance, an iris-folded balloon or cake design can add flair to birthday cards.
Bookmarks: Craft bookmarks with an iris-folded design at the top. Perhaps an intricate rose or a classic British teapot pattern can appeal to avid readers and tea enthusiasts alike.
Wall Art: Elevate iris folding to an art form. Mounted on frames, intricate patterns like the Union Jack or iconic British landmarks, such as the Big Ben silhouette, can be a draw for art enthusiasts and tourists.
Notepads and Journals: The covers of notepads or journals can be adorned with iris-folded designs. A tranquil scene, like an iris-folded countryside landscape or a serene lakeside, can make writing a meditative experience.
Gift Tags: Add a touch of sophistication to presents with iris-folded gift tags. Simple motifs, like a star for Christmas gifts or an Easter egg during springtime, can elevate the gift-giving experience.
Decorative Boxes: Craft small trinket or jewellery boxes adorned with iris-folded patterns on the lid. The iconic British post box or a classic London cab can be playful motifs.
Table Place Cards: For those hosting dinners or parties, iris-folded place cards can be a chic addition. Incorporate classic British floral designs, like roses or lavender, for an elegant touch.
Ornaments: Create decorative hanging ornaments using thicker cardstock. Iris-folded designs like snowflakes for winter or sun motifs for summer can adorn homes or be splendid gifts.