Friday, 21 November 2014

Snowflake Interactive New Year Cards

These volvelle interactive cards are shaped like paddle fans to make
them easy to manipulate. Hold the fan handle in one hand, slide the tab with the other: Hey presto!... dissolving snowflake pic. Different styles of filigree snowflakes - whoosh!

The volvelle mechanism works via a slotted base layer and a rotating disc. I've been keen to try making one ever since reviewing Helen Hiebert's book Playing with Pop-Ups. There are also volvelles in Jean-Charles Trebbi's The Art of Pop-Up and in Making Mechanical Cards, by Sheila Sturrock (all of which are excellent papercraft refs). 
My design is a hybrid of mechanisms, with the added paper fan base. And yes, it is just a little bit tricky to make, but like most things, easier when you know how. You've got to put the rotating disc behind the paddle fan. The disc segments are brought to the front, and the jaggedy front segments are brought to the back. It is all held together with an indispensible centre brad, with brad mats front and back.

The how-tos are printed on the download files. If cutting out by hand, follow the outlines to cut out the six segments on the fan and the dial (disc). The cut-outs on the paddle fan are jaggedy-lines and the are cut-outs on the dial are flag-shaped. I have added a reinforcement to place behind the bottom edge of the dial and behind the fan handle because they get the most wear and tear.

Here are your free printables:



Depending on where you live in the world, a fan may be the last thing you need on New Year's Day. But wherever you live, an entertaining New Year Greeting is tops!

Sunday, 16 November 2014

The Art of Pop-Up, by Jean-Charles Trebbi. Review.

The Art of Pop-Up

The Magical World of Three-Dimensional Books

By Jean-Charles Trebbi

Promopress 2012, reprint 2014

Amazon link

ISBN 978-84-92810-65-9

Star rating: *****

The author of The Art of Pop-Up, Jean-Charles Trebbi, says that there are only about 100 paper engineers in the world. Well, those guys are my papercraft heroes, and M. Trebbi’s book is papercraft geek bliss.

This awesome title is a lovingly-curated pictorial history and appreciation of the pop-up book, its masterminds and creators. That description sells this wondrous title short, because although the main focus is on the movable book,  just about every imaginable type of paper engineering mechanism and curiosity is featured,  going way beyond the book:  sliceforms, action origami, origamic architecture, flip books, tunnel books, carousel books, mix and match, and much more. The mind boggles! The author says that the book is not exhaustive, but it certainly packs an amazing amount of info about interactive papercrafting within its covers.

The book is, appropriately, bookended with two superb paper-engineered features. Up front is a pull-out double-sided paper engineering Timeline Fold-Out. Back-of-book there’s a Techniques Guide featuring pop-up book mechanisms and bindings. So as not to disappoint, both are fancy-folded. These excellent resources amount to crib sheets for aspiring paper engineers.

The book begins with an introduction to movable books, followed by a concise (but still lavishly-illustrated) history. There are plenty of fascinating historical details. To whet your appetite (without providing too many spoilers):  instructional movable books, featuring volvelles, rotating wheels which revealed info, were used by Renaissance scholars. Pop-up books for entertainment and for children were introduced in the 18th century. And, of course, the Industrial Revolution (and less expensive paper) in the 19th century brought with it a golden age of paper-engineered book innovation.  

Next up is the Techniques section, featuring a spotlight on paper engineering pioneers – those who masterminded the concepts, then moving on to specific  pop-up variations and their makers. When a mechanism is shown, there are often accompanying  diagrams for your edification and enlightenment, a very handy feature. Example: the birds-eye view of the carousel book.

There is a spotlight on Paper Engineers: designer profiles. Here are the big names: Robert Sabuda, Jennie Maizels (creator of the amazing Pop-Up London), and many more. Meet the makers, view their works, see what makes them tick (or snip, as the case may be...).  Great stuff.

The  Beyond Pop-Up section is about “thinking outside the book”, you might say. This part explores the frontiers of pop-up, such as bigging up the concept for theatrical sets and home furnishings. There’s a look-in on digital developments (this is not in the book, but currently topical - Rob Ryan has a new interactive digital iBook).There are also related ideas, such as incorporating smell and/or textures (me: Pat the Bunny).  The sub-section on book Restoration is commendable. This is a topic rarely discussed in paper pop-up how-to books, yet, paper being what is – relatively fragile and ephemeral – is of prime importance. Valuable tips are included on how to craft archival-quality projects, and also on how to repair and clean mechanisms.

Last of all: Models: photocopiable projects you can try. Fun, challenging stuff, as you would expect. There’s origamic architecture, a one-piece tunnel book, a volvelle disc, a cat-themed sliceform, and a Lotus pop-up. All are contributed by experts in their niche areas. You will learn by doing.

This is a large-format book with quality production values.

The author, Jean-Charles Trebbi, an architect and designer himself, says that the intent of his book “was to pay tribute and give a voice to” a  little-known  profession, paper engineers,”whose craft combines the technical expertise of cutting and folding with producing ingenious creations.”  He has achieved his aim. This book is an inspirational mother lode. It examines the past and imagines the (sometimes digital) future of paper engineering.

This is a book to dip into time and again – a go-to resource and inspiration for everyone who loves 3-D interactive papercrafting.

Note:  I was provided with a review copy of this title.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

A Year in Crafts, by Clare Youngs. A "cookbook" of craft-y "recipes". Review.

A Year in Crafts

52 seasonal projects to make and give

By Clare Youngs

Cico Books

Hardcover (spiral-bound) £14.99 UK, £ 24.95 US, $ 29.95 CAN

ISBN 978-1-78249-141-5

Star rating: ****

Popular author Clare Youngs is living the dream – for the past several years she had been crafting full-time, prolifically producing a stream of excellent project books.  Clare Youngs is a craft all-rounder, and  excels at papercrafts, embroidery, home sewing, and more. Her new book, A Year in Crafts, is a cookbook of crafty ideas to take you through the seasons – a fair share of papercrafts included.

The cookbook analogy is intentional. This book was designed to resemble a cookbook in appearance and purpose. The book is spiral- bound, with divider pockets (to stuff with notes) and a stretchy elastic band to hold it shut (presumably when bursting with ideas). You dip into it to find a seasonable craft project “recipe”, perhaps one that you want to tweak just  a little to make your own. 

The 52 projects convey Clare Young’s hands-on approach to crafting. She has taken thrifting to heart, and there are lots of projects fashioned  from recycled materials. Many projects are ideal for time-poor crafters, although there are few that require a bigger investment of time. 

Most of the makes fall into the home decor category – these are the sort of inviting objects that transform a house into a home. Cosy, smile-inducing stuff, identifiable as “loving hands at home”-made -  but in a very good way. Some of the projects are holiday-specific, like the delightful (and almost-instant)  papercraft Easter Egg Cessories (hats and fascinators for egg-cup occupants).

There are papercrafts, embroidery, sewing, and just a bit of D-I-Y lite. Papercraft  favourites include the Silverleaf Pinecones, and the charming Little Clog Advent Calendar – doily-decorated kraft paper  wooden shoe-shaped pockets hung as a bunting. The Festive Swans are a 3-D papercraft display, simply papercut. A delightful textile craft is the Rag Rug Circle, braided strips of recycled fabrics, with decorative loops cleverly incorporated into the design. Another winner is Dad’s Shoe Bag, embellished with a natty pair of embroidered brogues. A useful project is the Pinboard House, made out of cork-covered  foamcore board.  

So, to sum up – the cookbook concept works a treat, and the “recipes” are of consistently good quality. Highly giftable.