Tag Archives: pop-up books

Pop-ups: Water Polo

I recently resumed my fascination with pop-up art. It’s fun to abstract the world to a system of interacting planes. I’ve created cats at play, architecture, and hot air balloons. It was inevitable that my play would turn to water polo, and so it has. I wondered how I would depict a goalie blocking a ball or a player swimming down the pool. I cannibalized some poster designs from a few months ago and was off to the races.

Below is my water polo pop-up book! I’m already scheming on new ideas, but I’m very proud of my first foray.

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Great Pop-up books

Last week, I wrote about my own pop-up work. I’ve admired pop-ups since I was a kid, although I had only one pop-up book throughout my childhood. It was called Les Dinosaures and it was in French. I don’t read a word of French, but I examined the book until I shredded it. I suppose after my parents saw the wreck I made of that book, I never got another one until I started buying my own in adulthood. Below are a few of my favorites. As you can see, pop-ups cover any topic, from the literary to the historic to the nerdy. Pop-ups convey wonder and humor. I’d love to hear pop-up suggestions, too!

The White House: A Pop-Up of our Nation’s Home

Hot off the presses, a 2016 pop-up book. In my favorite page, opening a tab opens a curtain, but a photo would hardly do it justice. Little delights abound in this book. I found my copy at the LBJ presidential library in Austin, Texas.

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Moby Dick

I found this lovely pop-up at the Kansas City Art Museum. Their gift shop had dozens of pop-ups, and in a frenzy, I had to choose one. This book has ships with riggings, pull tabs, and twisting whirlpools. It’s cartoonish and I love it.

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Star Wars: A Pop-Up Guide to the Galaxy

I have a habit of finding my pop-up books in strange places; my Star Wars pop-up book came from the Denver Museum of Miniatures, Dolls and Toys. The museum contains numerous lovely dollhouses, historic and modern, in southwestern styles, Victorian styles, and more. It’s also full of Star War toys. This pop-up book is so jammed full it can be hard to open. The back panel features Luke and Vader facing off with lightsabers, which light when the page is opened. My favorite page shows Anakin Skywalker in the Vader mask–as you open the page, his face disappears into the mask. A true nerd’s pop-up book.

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America’s National Parks: A Pop-Up Book

Perfect for the 100th Anniversary of the Park System, it’s the National Park pop-up book. This book alternates between pop-up pages and flat pages, which is a great way to fit a little more information into the book. The Yellowstone geyser page is lovely, but so tall it was tough to capture photographically. Appropriately, I got this book at Rocky Mountain National Park.

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Some More Fun with Pop-Ups

I’ve written a few times about my interest in pop-ups on this blog. I’ve played around with making them and I’ve found some toys with which to make them better. But pop-ups can be hard, and after a lot of play, I found myself a little discouraged. I would try and try, but I wouldn’t seem to approach a working solution. I put my pop-ups aside for a bit.

Then, last weekend, I took a pop-up book class through a local club. The class was instructed by Carol Barton, who has written several pop-up instructional books, as well as produced several artistic pop-up books. We made dozens of pop-ups in the class, ranging from very simple to more complex. We talked about different kinds of folds and cuts. Some of my pop-ups worked, some didn’t. My classmates experimented too. Carol was an excellent teacher, helping us to think intuitively about the pop-up rather than strictly mathematically. I came out of the weekend feeling much more confident. I might still make mistakes, but I work toward a better product eventually.

Below are some of my pop-ups. The two most complex pop-ups are ones I’ve worked on this last week. The last three ones I made in a few minutes in the class with scissors cutting by hand.

If you are interested in learning to make pop-ups, I recommend Carol’s books in the “Pocket Paper Engineer” series. They have excellent illustrations and explanations. Even better, they have pages for you to cut out and work on pre-designed pop-ups. These pages show you all the techniques of pop-up books, starting at the most simple and becoming more complex.

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My big project this week: the Old Courthouse and the Arch in St. Louis. I programmed this in Illustrator and used my Silhouette Cameo to do the cuts.

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Preliminary work on a pop-up of UVA’s Rotunda.

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A simple saddle pop-up, cut by hand in class.

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A pop-up made of a series of box pop-ups. It looks fancier than it is– it took no planning and only a few moments of snipping and folding to make.

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A series of box folds to make a very simple yet in my opinion really interesting pop-up.

Paper engineering (AKA: pop ups!)

Everybody love a pop-up book. The well-executed ones are a thing of joy. I got a pop-up book as a kid about dinosaurs, which I didn’t care that much about, in French, which I didn’t read. I read that thing to its grave.

Recently, I see more pop-up books in stores, aimed at more than just children. These books are made by not artists, but paper engineers. As an engineer, I approve of this shift in language. Perhaps I should strive to be a word and paint engineer, rather than writer and illustrator. A few years ago, I bought Moby Dick, as done by paper engineer Sam Ita. Amazon lists a few of his books here. He even has a pop-up Xmas tree, if you’re still looking. His Moby Dick is wonderful, with whirling whirlpools and ships complete with rigging and a looking-glass.

I have started my own attempts at pop-up (shown below). A fun project, but one on hold for now because I’m not sure how to put them together with any kind of efficiency. If you’re interested in learning about pop-ups, I have used a few books to guide my exploration:

popupHappy paper engineering!