18 Jan Stephanie Stiles: Folded work of art
by Susan Peterson
Stephanie Stiles loves books. She teaches middle-level English at Baptist Preparatory School in Little Rock during the day, and two nights a week she teaches developmental reading at Pulaski Tech. But in her spare time, she does something unique with them. Rather than relegating discarded books to the dumpster, Stephanie gives them a new life. She is a folded book artist. When others are done reading the written word, Stephanie takes the book and literally turns the page and folds it, creating a work of art.
About three years ago, Stephanie spotted her first folded book that contained only the word READ. Rather than purchase it, she looked online to find out how to create her own. Her first project — a heart — was a success, and she hasn’t stopped folding since!
Stephanie buys books that are hardcover, clean and presentable from library sales, yard sales or Goodwill. Friends sometimes donate books. Folded book artists typically use outdated books that have lost their appeal to readers. For that reason, this art form appeals to recyclers.
Using the moniker “Diva from Scratch,” she now sells her work on Etsy (Etsy.com/shop/divafromscratch), where it is reported she’s had 125 sales. Combined with her local sales at various events, Stephanie estimates that she’s approaching 1,000.
The time it takes her to complete a book varies anywhere from one hour for a simple design to 18 hours for something more complex, like Superman or a heart within a heart. The complexity is evident in the pricing — her books on Etsy range from $15 to $70. Sometimes people request multiple books to spell out a phrase like “Love You Forever” or “Mr. & Mrs.”
Stephanie is now so accomplished that she takes custom orders and creates and sells her own patterns. She is even able to match font styles and logos.
Making a pattern involves a lot of math. The folding process entails measurements, making two marks on every page for the fold. It’s tedious work, but Stephanie finds it relaxing. She also enjoys it because it can be done almost anywhere — at her boys’ ball practice, while watching TV or on a road trip.
Although it’s a pretty unusual hobby here, she says it’s very popular in Australia and England. Who knows? From her home in Maumelle, where she resides with her husband and two sons, Stephanie may just be starting a new trend in the 501!