Tutorial: Leaf Bookmark

This is a simple, cute bookmark you can make by yourself or with a child or grandchild. I use a lot of bookmarks, because I read more than one book at the same time. These little leaf bookmarks can be used in any size book or magazine, even a catalog–use multiple ones to mark the pages of items you want to compare before you shop.


  • A 4″ (10.25 cm) x 7″ (15.25 cm) piece of heavy paper. It should be about 90-lb weight. I used Arches Text Wove (of course!).
  • Green ink, or watercolor paint, or Dylusions spray or acrylic. I used ink and Dylusions Lime Green spray.
  • Pencil
  • Green watercolor paper
  • Scissors
  • Glue

leaf1Spray the paper on both sides. Let dry. Pick the best end for color. Fold the paper about 2.5 inches (6.5 cm) deep and crease.

leaf2Turn the paper so the crease is at the bottom of the piece of paper.

leaf3Cut off the top part. (Cut piece is turned and opened to show color on both sides. Color does not have to be even. Leaves don’t have even color.


Draw a leaf outline on the cut piece. The fold is at the bottom of the stem. You will not cut through this part. Cut out the leaf.

leaf5You now have two leaves connected by a stem.

leaf6Using a dark green watercolor pencil, draw a center vein on each leaf, front and back. Glue the stem part together. Do not glue the leaves.

Leaf7Your bookmark is complete! Drop it, stem down, into the book.

leaf8When you close the book, the leaves push shut. When you open the book, they open up again.

leaf9You can also put the bookmark at the top of the book. Putting it in the book keeps it from being pulled out by little fingers or paws.

When you find your place in the book and the leaf opens up again, it always looks like you’ve found a new idea in the pages.

Quinn McDonald is back in the studio, playing.


16 thoughts on “Tutorial: Leaf Bookmark

  1. That’s lovely! On to my first clear memories of reading: first time was when Mom had to go with me to my school. teacher had sent a letter home to her, telling her that I would “never learn to read”, and, during the meeting with teacher, Mom was given suggested reading for me, as well as a guidebook for Mom–who tells me that, on the trip home in the car, she glanced at me in the rear view mirror–to see me reading that guidebook! So, Mom came up with her OWN “guidebook”: a day or two later, I came home from school, to find a really intriguing-looking book sitting on the coffee table. I was a blue book, called, “The Littlest House”, by Elizabeth Coatsworth. I smuggled it into my room, sat down with it, and dove right in–and I haven’t come up for air since. I recently found an out-of-print copy of it, and paid an atrocious amount for it, but buying back a precious memory? priceless! and I still love the story. Our mother was devious and creative,
    And one of her greatest creations was a family of dedicated readers–even the two of my sisters who have dyslexia.

  2. I love this idea! Leaves have such positive energy that finding one in between pages of a book just tells you that you’re going to enjoy reading or researching. Thank you for this lovely idea! Just what was needed on a cold day spent indoors. 🙂

  3. It’s been a long time since I used a paper book, but I have created several software tools that have “bookmarks” of various sorts. A bookmark is a surprisingly complex design problem. If you think of it literally as a bookmark, you want to indicate “progress thus far” like the position of a physical bookmark does. But only a minority of content types have the characteristic of an easily-defined beginning and end. Not only that, but it’s the context of the physical bookmark that provides that indication, not the bookmark itself, so do you try to recreate that context, or do you make the bookmark indicator itself convey more information, making it (probably) larger and more complex? Do you want a graphic indicator at all, or do you want to recreate the function, which is returning to your place? Software can just do that without adding the task of “opening to the bookmark” (that’s the Kindle solution; your book just opens to your previous place).

    Designing bookmark-like things also shows how deeply the idea of a “page” has influenced our thinking. Pages were originally characteristics of the technology of printing and binding, not of the content. There’s no essential reason that on-screen reading has to follow the same model; text can scroll continuously like a web page, or it could move horizontally, etc. But you can’t do that with all content, because the technology — the page — came to influence some of the content. Some books are designed page by page (hmm, what book could I be thinking of here…).

    One of the best parts of designing things for use is finding depths of complexity you didn’t anticipate.

          • Yeah, yeah, I meant not for me! I would have stained green fingers glued together, and the green would be emphasized by the bandaids on all the scissor cuts. Then I would have to buy a new book because the pages got glued together. Not to mention all the humiliation when everybody asked “what is that supposed to be” and I would have to reply “…um…a leaf…” And then of course there’s the expense; that green paint is probably loaded with bacteria (which is probably what makes it green in the first place) that *infect* scissor cuts, resulting in multiple trips to the hospital, which by the way isn’t even in my health insurance network (it’s a very advanced network able to drop providers less than ten minutes before you actually show up), where I’d have to go through the whole story again and grit my teeth as the ER docs (who are at most 17 years old) shake their heads sadly and mutter about “more infected scissor cuts; and there’s that green paint again; must have read that blog post, there oughta be some kind of law…”, so of course, being slightly addled by pain medications already, I’d leap into the fray in defense. So of course they’d make a call up to the 7th floor (the psych ward) where they don’t even *have* and computers, although most of the people there would be able to hold up their green, scissor-ravaged fingers too so at least we’d have that to commiserate about.

            Nope, computers are way easier.

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