Art Project: Create a Paper Bag Book

A paper bag book is fast, easy, and cheap to make. It provides lots of pocket space in which to tuck away letters, photos, postcards, maps, small art journals, and all manner of little secret items you’ll gather in the year ahead.

What you’ll need:

  • 3-4 paper bags OR envelopes OR wrapping paper tubes
  • Stapler OR needle and thread OR yarn/twine to bind.
  • Cutting knife OR scissors
  • Cutting mat
  • Glue (whatever you like to use)
  • Paper and/or cardstock to embellish and strengthen pages.
  • Ephemera, fibres and embellishments, as available.

You can use paper bags of any size. If you can’t put your hands on paper bags, consider using large manila mailing envelopes instead. It doesn’t matter whether you have bags/envelopes with or without the box-fold bottom (the kind that can stand up). The box fold gets chopped off, in any case. If you can’t find bags or envelopes, cut pieces of wrapping paper and glue the long edges, so you have tubes, and use those instead.

Below you’ll find a list of tutorials in PDF, text, and video formats. (No need to re-invent the wheel.) If you already have some experience with books, albums, and binding, you might be interested in the piano hinge book link.

Basic Process
The basic process is simple:

  1. Lay your three or four bags on top of each other,
  2. Fold them in the centre to create a book.
  3. Cut the sealed bag/envelope bottoms open.
  4. Bind the book in some way.
  5. Adhere paper or cardstock to each of the “pages”.
  6. Embellish, if desired.
  7. Fill (over the year) with whatever you want.

Lookies and Paper Bag Book Tutorials

First off, here are some examples of arty paper bag books. These are all made by Sarah Whitmire. Browsing the books will probably help you pull up ideas for your own book.

Paper Bag Books – Sarah Whitmire
Examples of gorgeous paper bag books

Paper Bag Book (Tutorial with layout examples – PDF)

Lunch Bags Mini-Album (Instructions and a Video)

Hand-Stitched Paper Bag Tutorial

Paper Bag Books (Tutorial)

Piano Hinge Paper Bag Album (Tutorial)

About artrites

Some people would see only a middle aged woman, albeit fairly well preserved, but in reality, I'm an English writer and artist (order exchangeable) living in Germany. I'm a blended learning specialist, graphic designer, and train adult education teachers, when I can find the work. There is far, far more to me that even that, of course, but discovering that is the journey you can undertake by reading this blog.
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