April 23, 2009

My first pop-up book...

As a kid, I only ever owned one pop-up book. It made a huge impression on me - one that would not resurface until much later in my life.

All kids love dinosaurs, and that's what my only pop-up book was all about. I was one of those kids who knew WAY too much about those prehistoric beasties - annoyingly correcting every adult who dared mispronounce their names.

Pretty cool book - right? It inspired Robert and I to create our own series of prehistoric pop-ups, the Encyclopedia Prehistorica series (Dinosaurs, Sharks & Sea Monsters, and Megabeasts).

My memories of this book are much different than what you all see in these pictures. My little sister Erin (who was 2 years old at the time) also enjoyed this book a great deal. Let's just say that all of the pop-up dinosaurs inside also went extinct - she tore the book to pieces! Now I have a new copy of Dinosaurs: A Pop-Up Book - and my little sister or Lilly (my brand-new niece) will never get their mitts on it!


Friends or Foes

For centuries the species have been at arms against each other:

The Wolf and Red Riding Hood.

The Minotaur and Theseus.

Even this donkey and this baby.

All mortal enemies.
But a new development in the crisis gives me hope.



Low-tech Queen

It seems robots are on the mind lately in the studio. Here's one video that makes you wonder what your electronics are telling you, or rather trying to orchestrate between themselves.

This just makes me want to rock out, but maybe do the 'robot' instead!


More on automatons

Paper engineer Andy Baron (www.popyrus.com) is not only skilled with paper! A few years ago he helped The Franklin Institute restore a certain automaton, which had been sitting around in their storage area for years.

By replacing some parts, restoring others and bending a few pieces of wire back into place, Andy was able to slowly bring the clockwork artist back into working condition! The "Draughstman-Writer" once again draws four different pictures and writes three different poems (two in french and one in english), using gears, levers and cams to guide his hand.

More info can be found at The Franklin Institute's website.

Check out the video of Andy demonstrating the automaton below!

- Shelby

London Calling

Last week a young paper engineer popped into the studio for a quick visit before returning to England. We haven’t seen Elinor Dean since last September (you can reminisce here) and she had a lot of stories to share from the past six months, such as the time she had to make a one-meter tall pop-up card in a week’s time. She also brought one of the recent titles from British genius, Nick Denchfield called Commander Nova's Alien Space Station. I absolutely love his 360-degree pop-up playset design complete with cleverly constructed spaceships.

While Eli did not have many pop-ups to show since she was catching a plane over the pond, she did share that her new website has launched. After checking it out, I think that it captures her personality perfectly. Be sure to check out her paper engineered creations and more at http://www.elinordean.co.uk

- Kyle

April 17, 2009

A new kind of Paper Engineering

Many people have heard of or seen videos of artist Theo Jansen's work: giant walking sculptures that are powered by the wind. At least one person is now taking the principles Theo developed and implementing them on a smaller scale:

This little horse automaton is made out of paper! I am very excited to make one of my own sometime soon...kits are available if you want to order one and make it yourself!


(If you haven't heard of or seen Theo Jansen's work, here's a short video below:)

Down to business...cards

In Japan the exchange of business cards is an important part of professional edict. Here at the studio we don't really have business cards. We mostly just use post-its.

So I got to thinking what makes for a good business card. The man in this video seems to have all the answers. Even to questions no one asked.




This past weekend a great show featuring nine very different paper artists opened in Los Angeles. PAPERSHAPERS is hosted by the hip automobile company, Scion and was curated by Giant Robot. The installation features not one but two of my favorite paper artists:

Peter Callesen has really wowed me with his poetic exploration of positive and negative space with paper. (I’m still reeling from the Perry Rubenstein Gallery show back in January.)

Brian Dettmer transforms retired reference books and other media into meticulously carved sculptures. They way he creates a narrative by revealing sections of a book’s page is a true marvel.

PAPERSHAPERS will be up until May 2, 2009 for those who are within driving distance of L.A. As for the rest of us, the good folks at Paper Forest visited the exhibition and posted some great images of the various paper crafters. Be sure to poke around the Paper Forest site to discover other folks making great things out of cardstock.

- Kyle

Playing with Food

As anyone knows, we all like food. Chomping, slurping, gnarling, nibbling... and playing?

Yes playing with food is AWESOME. Especially when you get some creative types at the table you may get something like these! My favorite is the egg buggy. How did they do it? Hard boiled egg? Someone extremely patient with a steady hand? I have no clue and that's the fun part- the magic of it all!

I don't know who did these pieces of food art, but they really make you think about cutting that potato in a different way.


April 9, 2009

Smooth Move

The latest issue of Entertainment Weekly is chock full of gossip about Madonna, Drew and Justin and most interestingly, a pop-up advertisement. Dr Pepper has been around since 1885, lending an air of medical authority to the soft drink business. Thanks to some scientific breakthrough they have sequenced the Prunus avium genome and are ready to introduce Dr Pepper Cherry. Fans of the ill-fated Dr Pepper Red Fusion may take consolation in this possibly similar concoction, but is the rest of the world ready for the good doctor’s new frankensoda? To assuage any fears they wanted to share how smooth the beverage is. The cover depicts a tall perspiring glass of Dr Pepper Cherry with the question “How smooth is the taste?” Let’s open the spread to reveal the answer to this coy question.

“Amazingly smooth” we are told. You might go so far as to say…smooth as silk. As the spread is opened, the soda can tips slowly as silk falls into a pool below. It’s a provocative ad, making some viewers in the office think of satin sheets on Valentine’s Day and others of a sea of blood matched only by images from the motion picture “The Shining”. I’m not sure if the ad company was shooting for that imagery, but it made for a hearty discussion at the studio and if you can talk about an advertisement for more than five seconds than you know you have a real smooth ad on your hands.

- Kyle

If you believe...

I seem to do a lot of blogs about photographers. hmmm.
Anyway. Here are a series of photos called 'Dreams of Flying' by German photographer Jan von Holleben.

They have a very magical Michel Gondry, DIY feel to them. (I wonder if the photographer would either like or hate to hear that.)


- Simon

PS: a blog about my trip to Japan soon to come.

A Geometric Centric Film

A really great animated film by a duo under the name of Impactist. I came across this while reading a blog called Doodlers Anonymous. What I love is the simplicity of the whole animation! Just so well done! See for yourself:



April 6, 2009

Thank the Maker!

This is quite possible the most stunning paper model craft I have ever seen! It's not just that it's Star Wars related and one of my favorite characters, the fussy protocol droid, C-3PO - but it's the organic shapes of this model that really impresses me. My patience would quickly evaporate trying to build this beautiful paper model - so I'll just stick to pop-ups! Go here to see more and even download the templates to create your own - if you dare!

- MR

April 3, 2009

It's all elemental

In my curious internet wanderings recently, I discovered a really interesting and informative website called "Periodic Videos". Some people over at the University of Nottingham in the UK have put together a bunch of youtube videos - one for every element on the periodic table. The videos contain fun stories and anecdotes, as well as demonstrations of the elements' properties (when possible). I'm steadily working my way through the table, it's pretty fascinating stuff.

Professor Poliakoff's story about Alfred Maddock working with plutonium is amazing:


An Uplifting Experience

This past Wednesday was the annual benefit for the Center for Book Arts in New York City. The CBA, founded in 1974, serves the book arts community through exhibitions, lectures, publications, artist assistance and education. This is one of the few places in the United States where you can learn the art of the pop-up and movable books from teachers like Carol Barton, Michael Caputo or Shawn Sheehy. I was fortunate to take a workshop there last year and really enjoyed the facilities and environment.

The theme of this year’s benefit was ‘Construction’ as the Center hopes to raise funds to replace their aging elevator. The event was well attended and the place looked great. They really played up the construction theme with servers donning hard hats to pass out tasty hors d'oeuvres served in Tonka trucks. The clever cocktails were truly potent with my favorite being the 'smooth elevator operator'. The live and silent auction went as well as could be in this economy; so well in fact, that I was outbid for a beautiful woodblock print. In addition, they commissioned ten artists to contribute pop-ups addressing the theme all of which turned out wonderfully. Carol Barton, Emily Martin and Shawn Sheehy were among the pop-up artists selected to create pieces for the evening’s raffle. Alas, despite promises from the staff that my raffle tickets were “extra lucky” I did not come home with a prize. But I did leave with a renewed fondness for the Center of Book Arts and it’s achievements and I look forward to seeing what other good things will come out of this beloved institution.

- Kyle

I've got a travel bug!

It seems many people are getting up and out of the city for some R & R this week. And to commemorate that, I've dug up some vintage posters that make traveling glorious! Well, at least the destination! Who wouldn't want to end up on in the Mediterranean on this beach? So lively, and warm, and sunny! Aaaah, I can't wait for summer!

And for Simon's return, here's a
Japanese travel poster. So serene and quiet, quite a stark difference from the other posters. It's pretty amazing that these artists could evoke the feeling of an area, the smells, the sounds, and the weather!