How-to: Upcycled Accordion Book from Junk Mail

accordion books

I bet you guys have figured out by now that I am obsessed with junk mail! Heck, I’ve even whipped up a junk mail notebook before. The thing about junk mail is that it just keeps coming, and the thing about notebooks is that you can always use one more, can’t you?

A couple of weeks ago, I was lucky enough to take an awesome class with WonderRoot Creative Reuse where we learned how to make 3D art notebooks. These accordion notebooks look mild mannered when they’re all folded up, but when you open them, they unfold into beautiful art books for recording memories. In the class, we used reclaimed papers that folks had donated to the Creative Reuse peeps, but since I wanted to recreate this project at home, I decided to use my favorite paper for crafting: junk mail! Here’s how to make your own miniature accordion book.


  • An odd number of paper squares – you can use any size you want, but for this notebook I cut my junk mail envelopes into 2.75″ X 2.75″ squares and used 5 pieces. If you want to be able to write in your book, I recommend choosing your envelopes carefully and cutting pieces that are blank (or at least mostly blank) on one side and have the printing on the other, like this:

junk mail envelopes

  • glue stick
  • scrap cardboard – a beer or frozen food box will work here
  • pencil, ruler, and scissors
  • embellishments of your choice


1. Grab your squares of junk mail paper and fold them into quarters, like this:

folded paper

2. Open them back up and fold them along the diagonals. When you’re done, your folds will look like this:

folded paper

3.  Now, you’re going to make your accordion. Take two of the pieces of paper and lay them on the table side by side so they look like diamonds, not squares. Then, you want to overlap them by the smaller diamonds that are closest to each other, using glue stick on that quadrant to hold your pieces of paper together like this:

overlapped corners

4. Continue like this until all of your pieces are glued together in a row.

accordion back

5. This is the hardest step to describe, so bear with me, OK? The next step is folding up your book, square by square. Start with the square on the far right, with your paper blank side up. Grab the two outside corners, and pinch them together. The guiding folds you made in steps 1 and 2 will help coax the paper where it needs to go. After you pinch upwards, flatten the far right quadrant down.

folding the book

6. Now, you want to flip your paper over horizontally, so the side you just folded is still on the far right and repeat the folds you just did in step 5 on the next piece of paper.

back fold

7. Flip it back again and repeat, flipping and folding, until your notebook is all folded up.

8. If you want to make a hard cover for your accordion book, this is where the cardboard comes in. Use your ruler to measure the cover size you’ll need. For my notebook, it was 1.5″ square. Cut out two pieces of cardboard to the size you want, decorate it, and use your glue stick to attach the front and back covers to your notebook.

What I love about this project is that it’s so versatile and scalable! The mini notebooks are great if you have junk mail or other small paper handy, but you can also use bigger pieces of paper to make something larger. Here’s the notebook we made in class, for example:

accordion notebook

That one used three pieces of reclaimed cardstock instead of regular paper, and I cut and glue sticked triangles out of decorative paper to make the pinwheel effect on the inside. Have you guys made accordion notebooks before? I’d love to see your take on them!

2 comments on “How-to: Upcycled Accordion Book from Junk Mail
  1. Pingback: » Craft Reycled: 5 Projects Made from Reclaimed Paper

  2. Pingback: DIY Notebooks | Glue and Glitter

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