Binders Keepers Makes Eye-Popping Art from Old Books

Running the page numbers with Stockton Springs book-folding artist Chelsea Porter.

one of Chelsea Porter's book folding creations
By Adrienne Perron
From our June 2022 issue
Photo courtesy of Chelsea Porter

Five years ago, a crafty aunt taught Chelsea Porter about the fine art of book folding, a meticulous process of cutting and creasing pages into sculptural patterns and words. A lifelong bookworm, Porter finished her first design in a week: the word “READ,” to display on her bookshelf. Now, the 30-year-old runs an Etsy shop, Binders Keepers, on the side of her receptionist day job, and she’s sold hundreds of works, from decorative loons and lobsters to calligraphic names and dates commemorating special occasions. “When people see these books, they do a double take,” she says. “I’m giving old books a completely new life.” We asked Porter for a few literary figures.


Minimum number of pages a book needs for Porter to do her thing. (Hardcovers only.)


How many famous Maine authors own her work (as far as she knows). In 2019, a friend of Stephen King’s commissioned Porter to fold the name “Georgie” and a paper boat onto a copy of It, which was then gifted to the horror maestro.


Number of Etsy sales Porter has racked up since launching on the platform in 2020. Her page mostly shows examples of her work, since 90 percent of her projects are custom ones.


Hours it takes her to complete the average project. Complex ones — like her tree-of-life piece, which involves way more cutting and folding — can take up to 20.


How many books Porter keeps piled up at any given time, mostly sourced from secondhand stores and libraries, destined for future projects.