Iris Folding

"Iris Folding is a paper craft technique that involves folding strips of colored paper in such a way to form a design. The center of the design forms... -- a shape reminiscent of the iris of an eye of of a camera lens". Wikipedia

Making a card with the Iris Folding Technique can give you a spectacular result. If you have never made a card using this paper folding technique, it looks a lot more complicated than it actually is. It's pretty easy to learn how to do this. See below for step-by-step instructions.

iris folding, paper folding, card making

How to Do Iris Folding

In this example, I have used a square shaped aperture, but there are many other patterns. I will provide a link to some for you at the bottom of the page.

You will need:

  • A card blank with a window aperture
    (create the aperture with your paper trimmer or with a craft knife and steel ruler)
  • A craft knife and cutting board or a large square punch or a paper trimmer

  • A plain piece of cardstock to punch or cut a slightly smaller square aperture from to use as a frame inside the main aperture

  • A square pattern for your folds

  • Repositionable adhesive for the pattern

  • Adhesive for the paper strips

  • Some clear packing tape for the completed design

  • Some backing paper or cardstock for the completed aperture

  • Four different types of thin paper to make your folds (or you can use unfolded cardstock, ribbons, origami paper, etc - as long as it is thin) in contrasting or coordinating colours and/or patterns

  • A bone folder can be handy if you are going to be folding your strips of paper

iris folding, paper folding, card making

What to do:

  • Cut or punch your main aperture, and make a smaller aperture from the second piece of cardstock. Adhere the two layers together

  • Position the pattern over the right side of the aperture so you can see it from the wrong side. Use the non permanent adhesive to fix the pattern in place

    iris folding, paper folding, card making

  • Cut 1" strips out of the thin paper (or 1/2" strips of cardstock) - four of each colour. Fold the 1" papers in half and make sharp creases of the folds with the bone folder. You can use ink to edge the 1/2" piece strips of cardstock if you like. Glue the fold in the paper strips so they lie flat

    iris folding, paper folding, card making

  • Using the pattern guide, start placing the strips of paper around your aperture and adhere them in place. Trim the ends of the paper to a reasonable length

    iris folding, paper folding, card making
    iris folding, paper folding, card making

  • You can keep going till you completely fill the aperture, or stop short of filling it and place a special image in the middle (like a small picture or a stamped image), or glitter paper or other embellishment

    iris folding, paper folding, card making

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      Now For The Next Card Making Steps:

    • Use the packing tape to fix your folds firmly to the cardstock from the back of your design

    • Adhere the backing cardstock to the design

      Use your amazing image on a card front any way you wish but be sure to find someone to 'wow' with your lovely iris folds when you are done.

    • iris folding, paper folding, card making

      Other ideas

      • Use foils or glittery papers in your design
      • Try using origami papers or rice papers to make your paper folds
      • Use vellum strips to make a translucent design
      • Incorporate this technique into your scrapbook pages
      • Use embossing powder on the edges of the paper folds to add interest, or stamp and emboss the stamped images as I have done in the series of Iris Fold Fan Cards in the slide show at the top of the page.

      If you have tried this technique and have a project to share, please do. I would love to see your projects.

      Do You Have A Favourite Handmade Card to Share?

      Do you make greeting cards? Please do share it with me.

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      What Other Visitors Have Said

      Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page...

      Hello, I am looking for a large (to be framed in a 12 x 12 shadow box frame) Iris Folding Pattern. I am not a quilter, so I don't know where to look …

      70th Birthday Card Not rated yet
      Hi Susan Here is a card I made for a 'young friend'. I decided on using the iris-folding technique (once again) seeing that there are not many 'options' …

      17th Birthday Card Not rated yet
      Hi Susan Decided to use your lovely template for this card - a quick 'fix'. Ronell **** Hi Ronell Thank you for sending me a picture …

      21st Birthday Iris Fold Card Not rated yet
      Pink and purple card with theme - "Forever Young/Masks". I decided to have the girl's face in Iris folding circle with mask 'on' Ronell **** …

      Iris Folding on a Layout Not rated yet
      I used Iris Folding on an album page layout and think it added a lot to the page. I was pleased with the result! Vanessa ***** I think …

      Click here to write your own.

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