My final class of the semester at the University of the Arts involved two classes covering the construction and thematic possibilities involved in creating a carousel book. Students spent one session learning a traditional method of folding three accordion books. These were then tabbed together to create this three-dimensional book form which can be read lengthwise or pulled into a circle (hence the name). Students then began to compose text and imagery into their books during the second class. Most finished a couple pages plan to finish the entire book by their final critique with Frances Osugi.
I love teaching how to streamline the production of artist’s books, but rarely get to teach this class because many book artists don’t make multiples. However, the seven book artists who attended the my production class at the Creative Arts Workshop in New Haven, Connecticut, were primed for this workshop–most had a lot of bookmaking experience on which to draw.
We produced an accordion book involving twelve various additions and reproduction techniques, and at the same time made jigs and templates for making more copies. Sadly, we only were able to produce one copy within the class time, but I will reorganize future classes to allow more time for multiples. The class also involved discussions on why to produce multiples, how many to produce, how to price the resulting work, and how to organize one’s workspace to maximize your efforts. Everyone was pleased to walk away with a sample production and lots of information on how to proceed with their bookmaking editions.
Spending two weeks in Venice, Italy, is my idea of a heavenly vacation. Plus, among the many museum and palace collections of fine art we found two intriguing contemporary shows on exhibit. One was the work of Russian artist Grisha Bruskin whose large-scale tapestry project combined multi-media interactive displays with the tapestry itself. His enigmatic work involves mysterious alphabets and strangely beautiful figures evoking saints and sinners. He equates text with texture and weaving in a fascinating view of the mysterious universe.
Another show we happened upon just off St. Marks Square was a retrospective of the Fluxus artist’s book movement. Works ranging from those of Dieter Roth, John Cage, Yoko Ono and many others graced five rooms in a small gallery space, while a show of contemporary book artists working in the Fluxus tradition was located across the canals close to where we were staying in L’Acadademia.
Along with the art, we had great weather and delicious food the whole time. It was a memorable break….
The Virginia Center for the Book is a vibrant space in Charlottesville, Virginia, with letterpress and binding equipment available for use by its membership. They host a variety of shows, workshops, and other activities involving the book arts. This past weekend I taught a two-day pop-up class there with especially creative results. I’m always delighted when teaching basic pop-ups forms to find new interpretations for them, and these students excelled in coming up with interesting designs. Plus, they were a boisterous group, which made the class especially fun!
It was a teacher workshop session filled with surprises, including trips to the darkness of the women’s (rebranded unisex) bathroom to see our lighted projects working. The workshop I gave last Friday for teachers in the Charlotteville, Virginia, city school system was a successful attempt to combine a basic electric light circuit with a pop-up card. We began working through a series of pop-up structures, then built a circuit made of a lithium battery, copper tape, an LED sticker light, and a sliding paper switch to turn the light on and off as the card opened and closed. With the addition of a pop-up, we achieved lighted campfires, buildings, and creatures. The challenge for the teachers now is to work this into a lesson on paper engineering and electronics for their summer school students. Thanks to the Noyce Foundation for funding this project and to all who participated!
Lighted pop-up by Cam Ellis, Virginia Monroe and Desmond Cormier
My Corcoran paper engineering students have been cooking up a three-dimensional storm, with pop-up foods illustrating a recipe of their choice. Dishes represent an international fare, including Chilean causa rellena, Mexican churros, insalata di fagioli, chicken and cheese enchiladas, couscous tangine, cheese souffle and pop0vers. Then for dessert there are Nutella cookies and chocolate pudding pie. Who could resist? At the end of the semester we’ll be having a picnic with the real foods on the table.
My flight arrived in Manchester, New Hampshire, Wednesday evening, and I had a beautiful drive from there to Concord where I was staying. Up early the next morning, I proceeded to Pittsfield and I had a great day working with a group of eight middle and high school teachers, exploring the subject of paper engineering and how it can be integrated into lessons on such varied subjects as math, science, reading and literature. We spent the day building pop-up models and discussing possible links to classroom curricula. I think everyone had a good time, as can be seen by the results here.
After school, art teacher Bill Mitchell and I visited the Pittsfield Youth Workshop where a group of young paper enthusiasts designed pop-ups of their own. They immediately came up with ideas for cards to give to people they knew.
Friday was spent with another group — elementary school teachers from various schools in the Pittsfield School District. The teachers had no problem linking the pop-up structures to lessons they could present in their classrooms, and appreciated the idea that designing pop-ups prepares kids from an early age for future work in three-dimensional design and mechanics. It was a fast-paced two days, and I’m anxious to hear how these teachers’ students respond to making pop-ups as part of future class projects. Thank you again for inviting me to Pittsfield Middle High School!
For the past two Mondays I traveled to Philadelphia to teach a special pop-up session for the students in Alice Austin’s book arts class at the University of the Arts. Despite bad weather, students showed up to try their hand at paper engineering. We made a series of models–pop-up platforms, props, V-folds, and other forms–which students can later use within the book formats Alice demonstrates over the course of the semester. I had a lot of fun with the students, and also enjoyed seeing my Philadelphia friends, Patty Smith, Mary Phelan, Susan Vigeurs, Sarah Van Keuren, and Lori Spencer.