How To: Accordion Book of Trees

One of the best things about being an artist is when you can inspire creativity in another person.  I really don’t think it matters if your “art” is visual, written, or performance.  I’ve been making my way around Word Press and have found that there are some pretty darn inspiring folks in this world.  Today’s post is a how to that ANYONE can do.  I’m going to be working with my ferret later so that he can do this.  I’m hoping to inspire him to stop knocking over glasses of tea.

Don’t feel limited by either the list of supplies that I used, or the EXACT steps that I list.  This is a guide, not the absolute rules.  There are some steps that it’s important to follow in order, and I’ll make sure to let you know what these are so that you get the BEST end product possible.  I hope that you’ll all give this one a try.  It’s fun, it’s easy, and when you’re all done you have something beautiful that you’ve created to share with others.  My housemate keeps saying , “Oh, I really like that.  Like REALLY.”  I think I found her birthday present!

Accordian Tree Book Supplies


  • Paper (watercolour paper is ideal, but any paper that can handle water works, I used Moulin du Gue for this project)
  • Water (any kind)
  • Watercolour paints (any kind will work, even the type made for kids that you can get at the dollar stores, I used Reeves from the tube)
  • A paintbrush (it doesn’t have to cost a fortune, just have bristles, I used one I found at the dollar store)
  • Ruler (any kind will work, I also use a cutting mat with a grid because I’m really bad at making straight cuts and that makes it easier and protects my work surface, REALLY bad)
  • Bone folder (ok, this is one of those items that make this project easier but isn’t EXACTLY necessary, you can fold freehand and use your fingernail or a spoon to “flatten” your fold)
  • Cutting implement (I use an X-acto knife, but scissors work just as well.  If you’re REALLY bold, you can try tearing the paper to the size you’d like to use!)
  • Spray Bottle of Water (This is optional.)
  • Salt (Any kind of salt, except maybe not rock salt. I don’t know, I’ve never tried rock salt it might work too. I use sea salt because that’s what I cook with.)
  • Pen (Something to write with that will stick around.  A pen, a marker, a crayon, any of these will work.)
  • Drinking Straw (I just grabbed an extra at McDonald’s once and that’s what I use.)


Cut your paper into a long, narrow rectangle, but not too narrow!  Once you’ve cut your paper to the size you want to work with it’s time to paint the background.  This is one of those steps that you sorta need to do in order.  The background needs to be painted before any folding is done (to eliminate the pooling of pigment into the folds), and before the foreground is painted.  You can choose to paint the background before cutting your paper though.

I chose to use deep, but vibrant blues to create my background.  To get the best results from this process, don’t be stingy with either the pigment (paint) or the water.  Your paper WILL be getting very wet.

Accordian Tree Book 002

Once I’m happy with the way my background looks, I give it a quick squirt with the water bottle.  This dilutes the pigment where the water droplets hit and creates “white spots” on the paper.  Don’t over do this part, if you choose to do it.

Accordian Tree Book 004

This is one of those steps that you can completely eliminate if you don’t have a spray bottle.  Your end product will still produce the same effect.  After the spritz, lightly sprinkle salt on your paper.

Accordian Tree Book 003

You’re going to need to let this dry fully, or use a hairdryer to dry it like I did.  Once it’s dry, brush off the salt gently.  Flip over the paper and repeat the process so that both sides of your paper have been painted and have fully dried.

Now comes the math.  Don’t fret.  I’m giving you instructions on how I got my end result.  You can fold your paper however you’d like to.  I chose to have all of my pages be the same size, with the front and back covers on the same side as my “story.”  Measure out where your folds need to be, and using a ruler and your bone folder score the paper.

Accordian Tree Book 005

After scoring the paper, lightly fold the paper so that the structure of the book is visible.  Don’t flatten down your folds just yet.

Accordian Tree Book 006

Now comes the fun part.  This is where you bring your trees to life.  Make sure that you have an extremely watery brown.  You also need to make sure that you’ve got plenty of brown pigment added as well.  Wet your paintbrush with plain water, then swirl it around in your brown mixture.  Really load your brush up, nearly to the point of dripping.  Put a nice, rounded drop (whatever size drop you want) at the bottom of the 2nd rectangle.  Now, grab your straw and BLOW!  Blow on the droplet. You can use the straw to direct the air so that as your drop spreads across the paper, you can control the direction.  Repeat this process as many times as you’d like in each of the rectangles, save the first and the last.  Let it dry.  You’ll notice that I used paper towels to “catch” my drops so that they didn’t bleed onto the other side of the paper.

Accordian Tree Book 007

Once your trees are dried, decorate them if you’d like.  I’m hemming and hawing over possibly adding some leaves to mine.  What do you think?  It’s also at this point that you can add the title to your front cover and any text that you’d like to add.  There are no limits.  Write a poem and include it.  Have your kid write a story about a tree and then add it to their book. NO LIMITS!  That’s why I love this project.  I chose to only add my book’s title.

Accordian Tree Book 010

You’ll notice that I got a little carried away blowing my first tree.  That’s ok, I like how the front cover looks, and that’s really all that matters.  Make sure that you sign your work!  Do that on the back cover.  I haven’t signed mine yet, because I forgot to.  I always forget to sign my work, but that’s a terrible example so let’s pretend like mine is signed too!

Finished Product

That’s my finished product. I had so much fun making this and I can’t WAIT to make one of these with Mac.  He’s already picking out his paper!

Mac does Art too 005

This entry was published on March 25, 2013 at 1:57 PM. It’s filed under Daily Prompt, How To, Inspiration and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

2 thoughts on “How To: Accordion Book of Trees

  1. Mac looks like he’s waiting on you to join him in the paper! 🙂 This project looks so easy and fun to do. Great post Jodi.

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