How to make a fortune teller

how-to-make-paper-fortune-tellerIf you’ve met me in person, you probably think of me as an extrovert. I’ll happily get on a stage and tell an embarrassing story without thinking twice. BUT I’m actually introverted in many ways. I was listening to Elise Blaha Cripe on Tiffany Han’s (both Craftcation 2015 presenters) podcast Raise Your Hand Say Yes the other day and I totally related to the way she explained her own introvert tendencies when she talked about how before a social gathering she entertains thoughts of unlikely disasters that would prevent her from going. Once I get to the event I usually have fun but a bit of social anxiety kicks in when I have to strike up a conversation with a complete stranger. Nine times out of 10 the conversation proves that taking a risk and connecting with another human is totally worth it, especially when I’m at a creative conference like Craftcation.

When you’re in a space filled with like-minded people the odds that you’ll meet someone you connect with are high. BUT you still have to take that risk and put yourself out there. Craftcation presenter Rachel Mae Smith from The Crafted Life wrote the sweetest recap of her experience at Craftcation 2015. (If you missed Craftcation this year you can check out all the awesomeness on social media with our hashtag #craftcation15). Rachel rounded up her top 10 reasons you should attend Craftcation and #1 was the people. Delilah and I often talk about how lucky we are that Craftcation attracts such creative, talented, sharing, smart open individuals (Rachel, Tiffany and Elise are three of them).

So, before this Craftcation 2015 I drew on memories of making friends easily when I was young and came up with this crafty icebreaker that we gave to everyone at the Craftcation opening dinner hoping that while attendees created these fortune tellers conversations would happen. AND… they did!

These fortune tellers are perfect simple crafty icebreakers for your next get-together or a great way to get creative with your kids. I took mine beyond the pen and ink version that I made when I was a kid and got creative with some Scotch Expressions washi tape, Sakura gel pens and Koi markers.

-Nicole S.

How to make DIY paper fortune teller from Dear Handmade Life How to make DIY paper fortune teller from Dear Handmade Life


-Piece of paper

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-Markers (We love these ones)


-Scissors (We love these ones)

Optional: Patterned paper, typewriter and washi tape


Click Here to download the template for the fortune teller or follow the directions below.

To make the fortune teller:1. Get a square piece of paper.2. Fold the paper in half (corner to corner) so that it becomes a triangle.3. Fold the paper in half again (corner to corner) so that it becomes a smaller triangle.4. Open up the square. You should have creases (marked in the drawings by a dotted line) from your folds that make an ‘x’. Fold the lower left hand corner in so that the point is in the center of the square.5. Repeat step 4 for the other corners so that all the points come together in the center of the square.6. Flip the square over. You should have creases from your folds that divide the square into four squares. Fold the lower left hand corner in so that the point is in the center of the square (like you did for step 5).

7. Repeat step 6 for the other corners so that all the points come together in the center of the square.

80s Party Fortune Teller Garland

You’ll need neon cardstock and string/twine/thread … oh, and some mad folding skills!

I am a visual learner, so let me show you in pictures how to fold these (and I didn’t even have to look up a tutorial online … it’s like riding a bike, ha ha!).

1.  Cut an 8.5 x 8.5 inch square from your cardstock – save the leftover pieces for our next project!  Fold the cardstock into a triangle, unfold it and fold it the other way.  Once opened, you end up with the picture above.

2.  Fold each point of the square into the very center of the square where your two folds met.

3.  Flip this square over and fold each corner in again to the center.  (This is the inside of your fortune teller.)

4.  Now, maneuver your fingers inside the big flaps (the back of picture 3 above) and draw them up until you have the fortune teller you can open and close.

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I folded 8 fortune tellers – 2 in each color of my cardstock.  Now, you can either punch a small hole to string these together or use needle/thread to string them up.  Drape them at a table or in a doorway for a neon throwback to the 80s!!

With party planning in full swing, I will be sharing several more easy 80s party projects using this same neon card stock … it would be radical if you would like, stop by!

What types of fortune telling are there?

You have the obvious ones, like palmistry, numerology, reading tea leaves, or pulling Tarot cards. I’ll admit, I tend not to include Tarot as fortune telling because it works differently. Tarot is more of a tool to help you focus your intuition. Which is a fancy way of making predictions based on information to hand.

But then you get into the realms of dream interpretation. Or how about gelomancy? That’s the practice of .paying attention to animal noises or hysterical laughter to find clues. The cat owners among you can try felidomancy, which involves predicting the future by observing cats. Apparently, if a cat sneezes, it’s predicting rain.

In the 18th century, the fashion ran to using moles to tell fortunes. You can read more about that here.

Caravaggio's painting of a woman using palmistry, a form of fortune tellingThe Fortune Teller by Caravaggio [Public domain], from Wikimedia CommonsAnd then we get into the gross realms of haruspication. Otherwise known as cutting open an animal and casting its intestines on the ground to see if they formed symbols. It goes without saying that this is never any excuse for resorting to this. The ancients just didn’t know any better.

The American Folk-Lore Society conducted a study of adverts for fortune tellers in late nineteenth-century America. The article expresses surprise at the “number of fortune-tellers [who] ply their trade with certain success” despite “the high average of intelligence in these United States” (1894, p. 299).

Instructions for making a paper fortune teller.Fortune Teller Using Cards or Cartomancy to Divine the Future. By BiblioArchives / LibraryArchives [CC BY 2.0]They also found more adverts for female fortune tellers than male ones and noted their often transitory nature. Some of these fortune tellers moved from town to town, though the more successful set up shop in affluent neighbourhoods. A few even offered fortunes by mail.

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We can only guess at why so many Americans consulted fortune tellers. Was it insecurity when faced with the future?

Why do people continue to believe in fortune telling?

The universe can be a chaotic and unpredictable place. Humans, as a rule, don’t like chaos or unpredictable lives. Fortune telling offers a way to make sense of seemingly senseless things. The human brain loves finding patterns and it connects unrelated information to create a meaning.

Rorschach blots are a good example. Known as pareidolia, it explains why people see pictures in clouds. It also goes some way to explaining the EVP phenomenon in modern ghost-hunting. The brain is trained to recognise language, so it looks for speech in otherwise random bursts of static.

Fortune telling goes by many names these days.A neon sign advertises fortune telling methods. By Ross Griff [CC BY 2.0]If fortune telling methods worked, you’d get the same answer no matter what method you used. And if they worked, surely fortune tellers could predict major disasters and potentially avert them. Many such disasters are only spotted within prophecies (I’m looking at you, Nostradamus) centuries after they were made. Other people have issues with fortune telling because it implies the future is fixed.

It should be said, fortune telling and superstitions are not the same things.

For me, some superstitions have some basis in fact. Following the superstition can reduce the chances of something happening.

Let’s look at ‘red sky in the morning, sailor’s warning’. If you see a red sky in the morning, chances are, it means a storm is on the way. You wouldn’t want to set sail in those conditions! Gabriel Nostradamus cautions children “not to walk backwards when going an errand” since it apparently foretells being “unfortunate” (2013 [1899], p. 16). One would imagine they’re less likely to fall off a kerb or bump into something if they’re going forwards!

Many cemetery superstitions would seem to make sense. One such superstition cautioned that corpses shouldn’t be buried with their jewellery, or bad luck would befall the family. It’s more likely families didn’t bury jewellery to deter grave robbers!

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