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How to do Iris Folding

Updated on February 27, 2016
Tulip greeting card made with iris folding
Tulip greeting card made with iris folding

Introducing Iris Folding

Iris folding is a simple but compelling paper crafting technique used in creating hand made cards, decorating altered books, as decorative scrapbook elements, as a frame for a small picture, or in any other type of paper crafting.

When creating an iris folded element, the artist arranges strips of folded paper to form a pattern or shape. The middle of the design contain an iris, that is, an unusual shape similar to an eye or the iris of a camera. Usually, the iris is filled with contrasting paper, ribbon or perhaps a small picture. Designs showcasing a picture are excellent additions to a scrapbook layout. The artist may use glitter, beads, jewels, fabric or any other element to further decorate the iris.

This paper craft technique originated in Holland, where artisans often used paper cut from the inside of envelopes. Today, this technique is likely to consist of scrapbook papers, tissue, gift wrap, origami paper, magazine pages or paper cut from the "junk mail" that arrives almost daily. It is also possible to create an eye-catching design consisting solely of ribbon.

Slideshow of Cards Done with Iris Folding

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Halloween Card with BatHalloween Pumpkin CardHalloween Witches CauldronHalloween Witch CardThis Happy Anniversary CardSail Boat CardTulip Card
Halloween Card with Bat
Halloween Card with Bat | Source
Halloween Pumpkin Card
Halloween Pumpkin Card | Source
Halloween Witches Cauldron
Halloween Witches Cauldron | Source
Halloween Witch Card
Halloween Witch Card | Source
This Happy Anniversary Card
This Happy Anniversary Card | Source
Sail Boat Card
Sail Boat Card | Source
Tulip Card
Tulip Card | Source


Iris folding is done with a pattern. You can purchase pattern books from Amazon and other booksellers. Many of these books also contain iris folding papers in coordinating colors.

Often, you can find patterns for sale or for free by Googling "iris folding patterns".

You can also, if you dare, draw and create your own patterns. In the cards shown in the slide show, I made the witch and the heart shape pattern myself.

The slideshow contains a number of cards made with the iris folding technique. To scroll through the slide show, simply click on the red arrows.

Supply List

It depends upon what you are planning on making, of course.

However, these supplies are the basic necessities for doing iris folded projects.

  1. A pattern, store bought, printed from the computer or hand drawn
  2. Scissors
  3. Cardstock or heavy paper for the base
  4. A selection of light weight papers in colors that work well together. You can use ribbon in lieu of paper, if you choose.
  5. Single sided sticky tape
  6. A paper cutter for cutting paper into strips (or cut with scissors if you dare)
  7. A square of glossy paper or other embellishment to use for the "eye" of the iris.

How to do you do Iris Folding?

This is one of those techniques that is so simple to do but difficult to explain in words. Thank goodness for video. I don't have to confuse you dreadfully or painfully bore you by trying to describe how to do this thing.

Please view the video below for a complete demonstration.

Video Demonstration of Iris Folding

Iris Folding Poll

Have you ever done iris folding?

See results

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