Many people don’t realize that fiber arts involve paper, too. There is a long history of papers created from all types of plant fibers, from flax to cotton to Japanese gampi and kozo (mulberry). Thus, I was not surprised to get an email from the Potomac Fibers Group in Maryland inviting me to give a presentation and class on paper engineering. This past Saturday was a full day. I gave a lecture on the history of pop-ups in the morning, and a mini class session for 21 students in the afternoon. Participants are shown here, smiling at the end of the day with completed pop-ups in hand. Thanks to everyone who attended.
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!
I just spent two days working with the Lab School teachers at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia. The Lab School is an innovative new middle school program which incorporates lessons in science, technology, engineering and math concepts within hands-on projects. On Monday, all the teachers tried their hand at building an in-line motor with two handmade solenoids hooked up to a small 6-volt battery. On Tuesday I taught basic pop-up construction techniques, and we added electrical circuits and LED lights to the artwork. The most exciting event was when one of the teachers, Robert Munsey, completed a working 3-D printed rotary motor. To see a short video of the completed motor, click here. Also, a student project with Robbie’s motor lifting a washer.
Four full days of classes at Pittsburgh’s Studio at Contemporary Craft yielded lots of creative projects, from architectural pop-ups and spirals to carousel and tunnel books. Two days were devoted exclusively to pop-up constructions, and eight students worked their way through numerous structures, from simple cut-and-fold pop-ups to non-adhesive props and V-folds. The next class was a two-day workshop, one day devoted to carousel books and one to tunnel books. Everyone left with finished models of both structures. Aside from that, I had fun exploring Pittsburgh’s downtown strip full of ethnic food markets and specialty boutiques. Thanks to Leslie Wright for being such an enthusiastic and wonderful host!
My weekend started with a jaunty private workshop at Olivia’s beautifully-appointed apartment and studio in Pikesville, Maryland. Olivia, Meg, and Paula, all artists in their own right, spent the day with me honing their paper engineering skills and creating a pile of pop-up models. Olivia provided us with a wonderful lunch, and we ended the session with a “class” portrait of their completed works.
On the agenda for the next day was the Hagerstown, Maryland, Literacy Festival where I was one of some 15 authors signing books in the public library. A group of four teens was a highlight, wearing their favorite works of fiction, singing “These Books are Made for Walking.”
Immediately after Hagerstown, I drove to the Howard County Fairgrounds where the Sheep and Wool Festival was in full swing. I managed to get there in time for the border collie sheep herding event, and my husband Henry joined me for a walk through the pens to see the sheep, buy a broom for our farmhouse porch, and purchase seeds for the garden.
This unusual combination of events made for an exciting weekend, ending with the planting of kale and beets at the farm.
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!