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What is iris folding?

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Quick Answer

Iris folding is a Dutch craft that uses strips of colored paper that are folded and/or shaped to create a spiraling design that surrounds a center point. The end result looks like the iris on a camera lens. Iris folding is often used to make greeting cards or gift tags.

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In Holland, early crafters used the patterned paper that was once found inside envelopes. Almost any lightweight paper will work, including wrapping paper, origami sheets, scrapbook paper, even pages of magazines. Some crafters also incorporate folded ribbon into their designs.

Other items needed include a pattern, tape and cutting tools. Patterns are available at craft shops, book stores or as downloadable files on the Internet. Experienced iris folders also create their own patterns. Each design has the individual paper strips numbered in a spiral fashion. Following these numbers in order results in a 3-D image.

First, the crafter selects a template, or a general shape for the work. Popular shapes include triangles, squares or pentagrams. Each template has a specific pattern for the paper strips. A border is cut out and taped over the template using removable tape. The eye of the iris is kept in the middle. The paper strips are cut, folded and glued according to the pattern. When the center is reached, the work is flipped over to reveal the design.

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