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How to Do Iris Folding | A Paper Craft Technique

Updated on October 9, 2014
Iris Folded Witch for Halloween Card
Iris Folded Witch for Halloween Card | Source

A Simple Yet Beautiful Paper Craft

This article uses both step by step instructions, as well as a video demonstration, to show you how to do the beautiful paper craft known as iris folding. Pictures are included.

Iris folding is a paper craft used to created shapes for card fronts, scrapbook embellishments, altered art projects or any other craft project where a design is wanted.

Iris folding looks complicated, but is remarkably easy to master. The crafter folds strips of colored paper and arranges them to form a design. An iris, reminiscent of the iris of an eye or of a camera forms in the middle. Hence, the name "iris folding."

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Iris Folding: Festive Iris Folding (Crafts Special)
Iris Folding: Festive Iris Folding (Crafts Special)

Iris folding is the a craft of folding small strips of paper and laying these in a pattern design over top of an opening in your card stock. The craft can be done using any sort of colour paper. Iris Folding orginally was developed using printed envelopes as your folding papers. This book contains the basic instructions materials needed and the folding patterns for flowers, circles, hearts,chick, baby booties and more. A very beautiful way of making a card or design. All you need is this book to start this wonderful card making hobby.

 
Birthday Card with Iris Folded Design
Birthday Card with Iris Folded Design | Source

Supplies for Iris Folding

what you need

To do Iris folding, you start with an iris folding pattern. You can find patterns at book sellers or on the Internet where they are often available for downloads.

Once you have a pattern, you need relatively few other supplies. Typically, you need papers for creating the design, a piece of card stock to hold the design, transparent tape, temporary tape such as painter's tape to hold the pattern in place, cutting tools, a pencil and something contrasting to display the iris.

It is best to use light weight papers for the iris folding design. Scrapbook paper, origami paper, magazine pages, wrapping paper, tissue paper, napkins or serviettes, or patterned paper cut from the inside of envelopes works well. You can also use ribbon.

The pattern will let you know how many colors or designs of paper you need. Three or four types is a typical number.

Child's Card with Iris Folded Train
Child's Card with Iris Folded Train | Source

How to do Iris Folding

The video below demonstrates it better than I can describe. However, here are the steps I use:

1. Resize the pattern if desired, either by photocopying or by using the computer.

2. Place the card stock FACE DOWN over the pattern. Fasten with a paper clip. Hold the card stock up to the light so you can see the outline of the pattern through it. Using a pencil, trace the outline of the pattern on the card stock.

3. Remove the card stock from the pattern. Using scissors or a craft knife, carefully cut out the outline shape. You can discard the cut-out shape or save it for some other purpose.

4. Using painters tape, attach the pattern to the tabletop.

5. Position the card stock, right side down, over the pattern. Position it so the cut out shape is over the pattern precisely. Use painter's tape to hold the card stock to the table.

6. Referring to the pattern guide, prepare your strips of paper that you will use for folding.

7. Refer to the pattern. Locate Fold Number One. Determine which color of paper you need for Number One. Place the folded strip over Fold Number One to cover. Trim the strip so a little is left over at each end. Tape both ends in place using transparent tape.

8. Refer to Fold Number Two and repeat. Work through the numbers consecutively until all but the iris are filled and taped in place.

9. Remove the card stock from the pattern. Turn it over and view the front. Correct any spaces that may be showing through.

10. Decide how to trim or fill the iris. You might use glossy paper, beads, glitter, a charm, etc.

11. Your iris design is complete. Use in in a greeting card or elsewhere.


Please refer to the video below to see a demonstration of iris folding.

Photos of Iris Folding - Photo Credit: June Campbell

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Halloween card with iris folded batCard with iris folded appleHalloween card with iris folded witches cauldronHalloween card with iris folded witchBirthday card with iris folded spiralValentine card with iris folded heartGreeting card with iris folded spiralThinking of You card with iris folded spiralCard with iris folded sail boatCard with iris folded tulip
Halloween card with iris folded bat
Halloween card with iris folded bat | Source
Card with iris folded apple
Card with iris folded apple | Source
Halloween card with iris folded witches cauldron
Halloween card with iris folded witches cauldron | Source
Halloween card with iris folded witch
Halloween card with iris folded witch | Source
Birthday card with iris folded spiral
Birthday card with iris folded spiral | Source
Valentine card with iris folded heart
Valentine card with iris folded heart | Source
Greeting card with iris folded spiral
Greeting card with iris folded spiral | Source
Thinking of You card with iris folded spiral
Thinking of You card with iris folded spiral | Source
Card with iris folded sail boat
Card with iris folded sail boat | Source
Card with iris folded tulip
Card with iris folded tulip | Source

© 2008 June Campbell

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    • profile image

      ScentsWithBling 

      5 years ago

      I have heard of iris folding but it looked so complicated. I never imagined it would be so easy. I'm going to be using it in a heritage scrapbook that I am making

    • randomthings lm profile image

      randomthings lm 

      5 years ago

      This is very interesting. I had not heard of this before.

    • junecampbell profile imageAUTHOR

      June Campbell 

      6 years ago from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

      @anonymous: Yes, indeed. It is one of my favorite techniques.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      6 years ago

      Iris folding crafts are so easy, and the results are just cute!

    • junecampbell profile imageAUTHOR

      June Campbell 

      7 years ago from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

      @purpleslug: I have never worked with glass. If you do give this a try, I'd like to know how it works using glass instead. It should be beautiful. Thanks for visiting.

    • profile image

      purpleslug 

      7 years ago

      You were so right! It looks so easy and would love to give it a try. I would also like to try it with glass versus paper. Great lens and thanks for sharing! I will also share this lens with one of my daughters as she is real big on scrap booking and would love this paper craft.

    • junecampbell profile imageAUTHOR

      June Campbell 

      7 years ago from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

      @anonymous: Thank you for visiting.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      7 years ago

      This is really interesting lens. Thanks for this!

    • junecampbell profile imageAUTHOR

      June Campbell 

      7 years ago from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

      @paperfacets: Teabag folding is lovely too. Reminds me, I haven't tried any for quite some time. It must be time now ...

    • paperfacets profile image

      Sherry Venegas 

      7 years ago from La Verne, CA

      Lately iris folding has past tea bag folding in popularity.

    • JJNW profile image

      JJNW 

      7 years ago from USA

      This is really interesting. Love paper crafts and have never seen this before. Fun! Thank you!

    • junecampbell profile imageAUTHOR

      June Campbell 

      7 years ago from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

      @Heinani: I would love to see pics of iris folding and Zentagle combined. That would be awesome.

    • Heinani profile image

      Heinani 

      7 years ago

      I learned something new today. Thank you for introducing me to this art. I love the repetitive patterns. It will be fun to combine this with the Zentangle art form that I teach.

    • junecampbell profile imageAUTHOR

      June Campbell 

      7 years ago from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

      @MargoPArrowsmith: Thank you!

    • MargoPArrowsmith profile image

      MargoPArrowsmith 

      7 years ago

      Beautiful lens

    • junecampbell profile imageAUTHOR

      June Campbell 

      7 years ago from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

      @sukkran trichy: Thank you so much for stopping by.

    • sukkran trichy profile image

      sukkran trichy 

      7 years ago from Trichy/Tamil Nadu

      amazing art. thanks for introducing me this lovely art form.

    • junecampbell profile imageAUTHOR

      June Campbell 

      7 years ago from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

      @anonymous: It is lovely, and quite easy to do. Good luck with your projects and thanks so much for commenting.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      7 years ago

      That looks beautiful. I need to try it :)

    • puzzlerpaige profile image

      puzzlerpaige 

      8 years ago

      We have only recenty started iris folding. A relative loaned us a book with patterns. It's really neat and the results are beautiful.

    • junecampbell profile imageAUTHOR

      June Campbell 

      9 years ago from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

      Hi Karen., Thanks for visiting. I don't think there is any rule about the purpose of a lens. Some generalize. Some focus on a specific aspect. It just depends on what you feel in the mood to do.

    • profile image

      karooch 

      9 years ago

      Hi June. Great lens. And I now understand the purpose of a lens is to focus on just one specific aspect of something and not to try to generalise.

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