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How to Do Iris Folding | A Paper Craft Technique

Iris Folded Witch for Halloween Card

Iris Folded Witch for Halloween Card

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."

Do you do Iris Folding?

Where do you stand on the paper craft of iris folding? Take this poll and find out how you compare to other readers.

Birthday Card with Iris Folded Design

Birthday Card with Iris Folded Design

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.

Iris Folding Links - Some with Free Iris Folding Patterns

Child's Card with Iris Folded Train

Child's Card with Iris Folded Train

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.

© 2008 June Campbell

Leave a Comment in the Guestbook

ScentsWithBling on August 17, 2013:

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 on January 17, 2013:

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

June Campbell (author) from North Vancouver, BC, Canada on March 29, 2012:

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

anonymous on March 29, 2012:

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

June Campbell (author) from North Vancouver, BC, Canada on June 18, 2011:

@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.

purpleslug on June 18, 2011:

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.

June Campbell (author) from North Vancouver, BC, Canada on June 09, 2011:

@anonymous: Thank you for visiting.

anonymous on June 09, 2011:

This is really interesting lens. Thanks for this!

June Campbell (author) from North Vancouver, BC, Canada on April 28, 2011:

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

Sherry Venegas from La Verne, CA on April 28, 2011:

Lately iris folding has past tea bag folding in popularity.

June Campbell (author) from North Vancouver, BC, Canada on January 11, 2011:

@JJNW: Thank you for stopping by and commenting.

JJNW from USA on January 10, 2011:

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

June Campbell (author) from North Vancouver, BC, Canada on October 26, 2010:

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

Heinani on October 25, 2010:

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.

June Campbell (author) from North Vancouver, BC, Canada on October 19, 2010:

@MargoPArrowsmith: Thank you!

MargoPArrowsmith on October 18, 2010:

Beautiful lens

June Campbell (author) from North Vancouver, BC, Canada on October 12, 2010:

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

sukkran trichy from Trichy/Tamil Nadu on October 12, 2010:

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

June Campbell (author) from North Vancouver, BC, Canada on October 02, 2010:

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

anonymous on October 02, 2010:

That looks beautiful. I need to try it :)

puzzlerpaige on March 30, 2010:

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

June Campbell (author) from North Vancouver, BC, Canada on October 31, 2008:

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.

karooch on October 31, 2008:

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.