Making Paperback Angels


The title of this post is slightly misleading because we didn’t actually make any paperback angels.

Though we tried.

Between a National Merit Scholarship semi-finalist and a sailor in the Navy nuclear program, you’d think we could follow the directions.

But we were stumped.

This craft comes from an old oversize pamphlet-style book called Make-It Christmas Ideas. I’ve had requests to share these instructions since I posted about Georgia’s vintage Christmas craft books in this post. Sheryl dug the book back out of the closet for me and here it is!

If you need a creative challenge over the holidays, grab an old book, start ripping pages out, and make this angel. I dare you.

(We used copies of one of my old Silhouette Romances.)

Along with a paperback book, you’ll need a 2-inch foam ball for the head, gold (or silver) spray paint if you want to paint it, tape, toothpick, wire, a cardboard or plastic roll for the halo, something for angel hair, some glue, and cardboard for the little easel.

To make a paperback angel:

Use the first 40 pages of an old paperback, covers removed. Do not fold the first and last two pages; start with the third page and fold as follows. (The pages are numbered on both sides. Is that to page 40, or actually 40 pages, which would be to page 80? Hmmm. We had problems from the get-go!)

Figure 1. Fold a single page in half, lengthwise, by bringing the outside edge to the binding. Press flat at the fold.

Figure 2. Bring the top corner down to the binding; press flat.

Figure 3. Fold again, bringing point X to the binding; press flat.

Do this to each page (except the first and last two) for the body.

Figure 4. To make the sleeves, roll the first two and last two pages into place and tape to hold. Cut off bottom edges as indicated by dotted lines. Spray paint.

The head is a 2-inch plastic foam ball. Cut paper features; glue in place. Add angel’s hair. Insert a toothpick into the head for a neck and attach the neck to the body by taping down along book binding.

Figure 5. To make the halo, cut a 1/2-inch wide ring from plastic (or from a cardboard roll). Twist a piece of wire around the ring, leaving short ends to insert in head. Spread glue inside and out of the ring and sprinkle with glitter. Insert wire in head, tilting ring backward for a halo effect.

Figure 6. Use three sheets together on the fold near the bottom edge. Roll up the lower corner of the bottom sheet to fold line. Tape in place, being careful not to lose soft rolled effect. Repeat with the lower corner of the opposite side.

Figure 7. The second sheet is rolled the same way except that the bottom edge is brought across the fold line about one inch and then folded back.

Figure 8. The third (top) sheet is rolled and folded back a little more than the second one. Be sure to use cellophane tape or tape wings on inside to conceal the tape.

Staple all three sheets together at the bottom on both sides of the fold.

Figure 9. Shape the top by cutting a curve from corners to fold, as shown by dotted lines. Before you spray paint the wings gold, make a final fold (shaded area) on each side.

Figure 10. Glue and tape the wings to the back of the angel. Add an easel. To make the tiny easel, cut a 2 3/4-inch by 5-inch right triangle from cardboard. Cut off about one inch from the top and fold about 1/2-inch on the dotted line, as shown, so the triangle stands upright. Glue and tape to back.

We were somewhere in the midst of Figure 4 when we lost it. If you can make this paperback angel, send me a photo and I’ll post it! GOOD LUCK!!!


  1. Jill Garofano says:

    I seriously cant believe that you get your grown boys to do crafts with you….that is wonderful!!! you are a great mother!! Merry Christmas and enjoy time with Ross. so glad he got home for the holiday.
    you make my day everyday (I read your blog first thing in the morning at 6 a.m. at work!) so thanks for the smiles!!


  2. texwisgirl says:

    I remember my sister making some of these as a kid – using Readers’ Digests. 🙂

  3. lavenderblue says:

    Really?!!! You’re using your own novels, your own writings? Really? No one can accuse you of having an author’s ego.

    My mom used to make something like these. Except she used old Reader’s Digests. I think she had a hard time, too. We did have a green spray painted Christmas tree around made out of a magazine, so she must have figured something out. I gave up on it in frustration, too, so I never learned.

  4. Ramona says:

    I’d be stumped too. I need to see it being done….

  5. Tobey says:

    Yep, Reader’s Digests was our paper source in Vacation Bible School. I remember having fun and it was a pretty simple procedure – but we did pipe cleaner arms.

  6. Donnely Barber says:

    I can remember my grams making something like these, hum do I have a paper book around here, might just have to figure the challenge, what a delightful way to spend time, no matter the outcome of the project , that time spent together is beyond price!

  7. stellans says:

    We did something similar in Cub Scouts one year: Readers Digest folded, spray painted, and turned into a Santa. My poor little Cubs thought they’d never get all those pages folded!

  8. maryann says:

    Used to do this in grade school and we used Reader’s Digests too. I don’t think your old books are quite right for it. I think the old RD’s were wider than a standard paperback novel. I’m not sure if the TV guide book would work?

  9. catslady says:

    I haven’t made the angel but for a similar craft you just do the folding and I think we used besides reader’s digest, catalogs. Then you just have a tree and you can spray it or not. If you have a colorful book it’s very pretty as is.

  10. cabynfevr says:

    Nevermind the Angel, is Ross singing Christmas Carols? :reindeer:

  11. Kimberly says:

    I have a vague memory of making these when i was a kid with my Great Aunt and my Grandmother!! Thanks for posting!

  12. Turtle Mom says:

    We also used to make these out of Reader’s Digests. How funny! Thanks for bringing back a long-forgotten childhood memory!

  13. CindyP says:

    Well there’s a craft to keep the “kids” busy! LOL! And there was almost a smile on Ross’s face at the end!

    I can’t get over all the crafting that got done this week (with the boys, too)!

  14. Melissa says:

    Kind of reminds me of the magazine or newspaper angels my family would make. I was too young at the time to participate but I do remember they were cute. Good luck to whomever tries this and Merry Christmas to all!

  15. Vicki in So. CA says:

    Yep. Readers Digest was the magazine of choice for our little Christmas trees. I was pretty small, but I think I even remember an angel. Maybe I’ll give it a try… Maaaybeee. :reindeer:

  16. Joy says:

    The problem with doing this now is that the glue on paperback books changes and becomes very brittle in a very short time. Notice in one of the pictures the pages are coming apart while you are trying to fold them. Also don’t use “old” paperbacks as paper now is very acidic and browns and becomes brittle very easily. Back when they published this craft book, paperbacks, binding and paper were a lot more flexible. Hey, just take a look at the books you got the instructions from–white pages,tightly bound with a curve as they come out of the binding. Look at the paperback–stiff and flat. I “inherited” some old baby clothes that had been through three kids and lots of bleach. Compared to the new baby undershirts from the same brand they were thicker, softer, longer and much better sewed. Sigh!

  17. dalewestfallsgranddaughter says:

    Someone in my church makes angels similiar to this using old hymnals. She uses the hardbacks of the books for wings, a wooden ball for the head and some moss for hair. They are gorgeous.

  18. Kay says:

    We used to make these when I was little out of Reader’s Digest. The pages were just the right thickness to make it turn out perfectly. We folded the whole thing the same, then spray painted it gold. Then, we added paper doiles for wings, a foam ball (you inserted a floral pick into one end and stuck this into the very point of the folded RD) for a head in which we pushed in whole cloves for eyes and formed a mouth, then used pipe cleaners for the arms which held a little song book made from a piece of construction paper cut and folded like a book. Very cute.

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