My most recent craft endeavour was a ‘Folded Secrets’ booklet. These booklets are based on Chinese (Miao) thread booklets. A local lady learned how to make these in China and now sells a book showing the method.***
The booklets are made of folded, cut and glued paper which form boxes which fold up closed and flat.
The picture above shows two of the compartments open. There are 13 compartments in total (the instructions were for 15, but I wanted my red paper on both the top and bottom so I omitted a layer in order that the colours alternate). The bottom compartment is almost square and is the full width of the booklet. Then there are two layers of long boxes on each side, one of which you can see open on the lefthand side of the picture. On top of the long compartments there are two square compartments per side (in black). On top of each of these is a red compartment that twists open. See top right of the picture for the twisty compartment in its open position and bottom right for what it looks like closed.
The black boxes are made of simple thin black card. The red boxes are made from a more interesting paper. It is brown parcel paper scrunched up and repeatedly distressed until it is both very crumply and sort of fabricky in feel. I then brushed gold acrylic onto the paper with light strokes from a fairly dry brush. This way the gold paint only went on to the raised areas of the crumple. Once the gold acrylic dried I put a wash of water-based red Brusho onto the paper. Because the Brusho is water based the acrylic resists it so the gold shines through. Once the Brusho dried I varnished the paper with a watered down PVA glue mix. I decorated both sides of the paper in the same way.
Traditionally the folded secrets booklets have a plain fabric cover. After having laboured so long and so lovingly over my red paper I was reluctant to cover it up. I made a cover out of the black card painted with PVA and with gold tissue scrunched on. This cover I didn’t attach to the booklet, just wrapped it around and tied it with a leather thong.
***Update: Because this lady went all the way to China to find out how to make these booklets and makes money from selling the information she worked hard to gather I’m reluctant to share the exact method and measurements, even if the ‘intellectual property’ technically belongs to crafters in China.
Update: Ruth Smith is the name of the lady who wrote the booklet. She doesn’t have a website (as far as my Googling can see) but here’s a link to a forum that has her email address as well as some photographs of traditional folded secrets thread booklets.