January 31, 2011

What’s Popped Up: Pop-up CD packaging

I missed out on not one but two limited edition pop-up CD packaging recently. David A. Carter created one of his signature sculptural pop-ups for the popular band, Coldplay. Hand assembled in London by David Pelham and signed by the band, the special Coldplay’s Christmas Lights CD is a coveted item around the world (like Wonka’s Golden Ticket) as only a handful were rumored to exist.

A few weeks later Sally Blakemore and her afro/gypsy/fusion band called ShonaSlovakia hosted a CD release party in Santa Fe, NM where 100 copies of the pop-up CD packaging was sold in short order. Sally assured that more copies of the CD will be available soon but will not have the limited pop-up of the band.

Now the fine music offered by both bands is reason enough to purchase the new CDs, but in this digital age I sure will miss the physical connection with the playful pop-ups.


Word of the Day: Vim

Vim \VIM\ noun
1. Power; force; energy; spirit; activity; vigor

Origin: Vim is from Latin vis which is 'strength'.

January 27, 2011

Vintage Movable Review: Stairs

Back in 1981, an architect from Amsterdam created a sparse pop-up book called Stairs. Rein Jansma, trained as an artist and set designer, and studied biology before heading into the world of architecture. His contemplations on stepped structures sit quietly on the page and the designs seemed to draw inspiration from his varied background.

Produced by Joost Elffers Books in New York and assembled in Singapore, Stairs must have been a refreshing change of pace from the other more colorful or explosive pop-up books of that era. While it is more likely to find this title on an architect’s shelf (which I did) then a child’s room, this it one book that I like to come back to every once in awhile and thumb through in search of transendance.


Word of the Day: Labile

Labile \LAY-byl\ adjective
1. Open to change; apt or likely to change; adaptable
2. Constantly or readily undergoing chemical, physical, or biological change or breakdown; unstable
Origin: Labile derives from Late Latin labilis, from Latin labi, "to slip"

January 26, 2011

Word of the Day: Imbroglio

Imbroglio \im-BROHL-yoh\ noun
1. A complicated and embarrassing state of things.
2. A confused or complicated disagreement for misunderstanding.
3. An intricate, complicated plot, as of a drama or work of fiction.
4. A confused mass; a tangle.

Origin: Imbroglio derives from Italian, from Old Italian imbrogliare, "to tangle, to confuse," from in-, "in" + brogliare, "to mix, to stir."  It is related to embroil, "to entangle in conflict or argument."

History Lesson: The Cullinan Diamond

On January 25th, 1905 a 3,106 carat diamond was discovered during a routine inspection of the Premier Mine in Pretoria, South Africa.  The diamond weighed 1.33 pounds and was called the 'Cullinan' diamond.  It was the largest diamond ever found at that time in history.  The Cullinan diamond was presented to Britain's King Edwards VII as a birthday gift from the Transvaal provincial government.

King Edward entrusted the Cullinan diamond to Joseph Asscher, the head of Asscher Diamond Company of Amsterdam.  Asscher had cut the famous 971-carat Excelsior Diamond found in 1893.  It's said that he studied the Cullinan diamond for six months before attempting to cut it.  Asscher cut the diamond into nine large stones and about 100 smaller ones.  The largest is called the 'Star of Africa I' or 'Cullinan I' and it weighs about 530-carats!  Both Cullinan I and Cullinan II are apart of the British Sovereign's Royal Scepter and the Imperial State Crown.  They are on display in the Tower of London.

(Here is the uncut Cullinan diamond)

January 25, 2011

Word of the Day: Susurrus

Susurrus \su-SUHR-uhs\ noun
1. A whispering or rustling sound; a murmur.

Origin Susurrus comes from the Latin susurrus, "a murmuring, a whispering, a humming"

Artist Watch: Andrew Kolb

While cruising the Dudecraft blog I came across this wonderful illustrator. Andrew Kolb is a designer out of Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. I love the minimal retro quality to the artwork and the playful themes that Kolb employs. While I’m a sucker for his rendition of the Beach Boys album cover, my favorite series is the Lady Gaga lyrics turned into a classic children’s book. To learn more about this neat illustrator, check out a recent interview here.


January 24, 2011

What’s Popped Up: Pearle Pop-up Ads

Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of commercial pop-up advertisements made for the screen. One of my most favorite campaigns comes from Belgium. Pearle Optics wished to make a giant pop-up ad and didn’t want to resort to CG or digital tricks, so they turned to the wonderful paper engineer Kees Moerbeek.

Moerbeek and the crew were able to make one of the largest functional pop-ups that I am aware of and it took a forklift to bring in the book! There are three short commercials and a “making of” video that are all in Dutch but don’t worry as they are easy to follow and have a universal charm.


Word of the Day: Outré

Outré \oo-TRAY\ adjective

1. Unconventional; eccentric; bizarre

Origin:  Outré comes from French, from the past participle of outer, "to exaggerate, to go beyond," from Latin ultra, "beyond."

January 21, 2011

Word of the Day: Flout

Flout \FLOWT\, transitive verb
1. To treat with contempt and disregard; to show contempt for.
intransitive verb
1. To mock, to scoff.
1. Mockery, scoffing
Origin: Flout comes from Middle English flouten, "to play the flute"

January 20, 2011

Weekly Beast: The Dire Wolf

The Dire Wolf

One of the greatest fossil treasures in the world is the LaBrea Tar Pits in Los Angeles CA. In these sticky pits of bubbling oil the remains of thousands of Ice Age animals have been preserved including mastodons, giant sloth, short-faced bears, and saber-tooth cats. Mixed in with the others were the remains of over 3,600 dire wolves.

These large relatives of both modern gray wolves and dogs were used to living in packs and hunting their large prey together. But these beasts were much bigger than both of their modern cousins. They were also built heavier than wolves we know today with thick bones that seemed to be built more for power than speed. Another thing that sets this ancient wolf apart is the large fangs of its upper jaw that protruded from it's mouth. These powerful predators could have brought down the large bison and mastodons that grazed in their ancient world.

An odd little find...

Sometimes, the weirdest stuff turns up when you clean out your desk drawers. I recently found this...

It's a very early pop-up that I made for a friend long before I even realized making pop-up books was even a career (between 1988-1992). This very simple layer fold features some of my own original characters (I had a whole silly yet complicated storyline filled with creatures, heroes, villains and robots back then), hastily illustrated in ink and markers. As I recall, I'd make these pops to be built into miniature comics for mixtapes (yes - it was that long ago) created for my friends. I went all out back then... too much time on my hands, I suppose. Kinda neat, huh?

- Matthew R.

Vintage Movable Review: El Hombre

Some of the earliest movable books were medical textbooks. These encyclopedic affairs gave an overview of medical ailments and current remedies. Often times these books made their way into country doctor offices or medical schools. While the focus and illustrations varied, the format was invariably similar. A human figure was represented on a flap that could be peeled open to review the musculature level, giving way to the skeletal composition and allowing the view to work down to individual organs. These flaps are colorfully termed ‘fugitive sheets’ as they tend to break off at the crease and disappear from the book.

Today we get to see a fine example of this type of medical movable book with El Hombre. This Spanish edition was published in Madrid by Bailly-Bailliere in 1884. The tall folio contains 16 pages of text and one figure that the reader can dissect with a flick of the wrist. The illustration depicts a dashing mustachioed man that appears to be neutered in keeping with the morals of the era. Considering this was a medical book meant for physical education I am surprised that we are faced with a slick looking Ken doll without even a fig leave for modesty. I wonder what happened when there were medical issues that were not “covered” in El Hombre.


Word of the Day: Crepuscular

Crepuscular \kri-PUS-kyuh-luh\, adjective

1. Of, pertaining to, or resembling twilight; dim.
2. (Zoology) Appearing or active at twilight.

Origin: Crepuscular comes from Latin crepusculum, twilight, from creper, dark, obscure; ultimately of Sabine origin.

January 19, 2011

Cedar Rapids bound!

Just a quick heads up - the NCCIL's brilliant traveling exhibit of Robert Sabuda's and my pop-up work, Wizards of Pop!, lands in Iowa tomorrow! I'm honored and excited to be in Cedar Rapids, Iowa this weekend talking, signing & making pop-ups at the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art!
When? Saturday, January 22, 2011 from about 11:00 AM - 04:00 PM
Where? 410 Third Avenue SE, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

See you there!

- Mattthew

Warning: I'm just slightly more frightening than the T-Rex in the illustration up there

Art Show Tomorrow Night

I've been invited to participate in an art show that's up for one night only.  You read it, one night.  And it's not just art, the idea behind 'My Conjoined Twin: Round Two' is pairing up artists and writers to create a piece that's not only on the wall but in words as well.  So there will be performances and readings along with great art.

I haven't told any one about what I'm doing for the show other than I'm having a lot of fun with it and it's probably going to be a little weird.  But then it wouldn't be fun!  So if you're in the NYC area this Thursday January 20th, come out and stop by the show for some entertainment and to say 'Hi'!

My Conjoined Twin: Round Two
January 20th
Niagara Bar
112 Ave A and 7th St


Word of the Day: Ruminate

Ruminate \ROO-muh-nayt\, intransitive verb
1. To chew the cud; to chew again what has been slightly chewed and swallowed.
2. To think again and again; to muse; to meditate; to ponder; to reflect

Origin: Ruminate derives from Latin ruminatus, past participle of ruminari, to chew the cud, to ruminate, to chew over again, from rumen, rumin-, throat.

History Lesson: The Frisbee

On January 23, 1957 the Wham-O toy company came out with a globally known toy-- the Frisbee.

The story goes that William Frisbie opened the Frisbie Pie Company and
the students from a nearby university would throw empty pie tins to one another yelling "Frisbie".  Then in 1948, Walter Frederick Morrison and his partner Warren Franscioni invented a plastic version of the disc called the "Flying Saucer" that could fly more accurately and farther than the tin pie plates. In 1958, a year after the toy's first release, Wham-O--the company behind the Hula-Hoop--changed its name to the Frisbee disc, misspelling the name of the historic pie company.

January 18, 2011

Artist Watch: Cheong-ah Hwang

Cheong-ah Hwang has been making paper sculptures since 2000.  Cheong-ah Hwang  has created very intricate and exquisite paper sculptures.  Along with some incredible "2 1/2 dimension" art work, she has also made pop ups.  One pop up project was a jungle mural in a children's room.  All the animals are hidden in the jungle and it's up to you to lift the flaps and reveal the animals.  To learn more about her and her amazing work check out her website and etsy store.

(Here are some of my favorite pieces)

Word of the Day: Scapegrace

Scapegrace  \SKAYP-grayss\, noun

1. A reckless, unprincipled person; one who is wild and reckless; a rascal; a scoundrel.

Origin: Scapegrace is from scape (a variant of escape) + grace

January 17, 2011

What’s Popped Up: Snowflakes

It’s cold here in New York and we have had our fair share of snow so far this season. While it is widely known that I am no fan of the cold, I do love snowflakes (on an individual basis only). I don’t love them as much as Wilson A. Bentley, who made it a singular goal to photographs as many unique snow crystals he could get his mitts on. Bentley’s images are fascinating and diverse and I treasure his many collections, so you can imagine my excitement when I learned that there was a new pop-up book inspired by his work.

Snowflakes: A Pop-up Book was released by Jumping Jack Press, an imprint of Up With Paper. (Check out the excellent video of the book here.) The seven spread book was written by Jennifer Chushcoff, with illustration and paper engineering by Yevgeniya Yeretskaya. Each page explodes in a three-dimensional sparkling winter scene complete with contemplative prose and tidbits about “Snowflake” Bentley. I had the good fortune to meet Ms. Yeretskaya shortly after her book’s release. After showing the lovely constructions she also shared her appreciation for Bentley’s work. I’ll let this promising young paper engineer have the last word. “It was wonderful to explore the beauty and the science behind these unique individual pieces of art known as snowflakes. I hope that I've succeeded in conveying the wonder and awe of the season through to the pop-up pages of this book, and that anyone who opens it will share in the magic that lies within."


Word of the Day: Kitsch

kitsch \KICH\

1. Art Characterized by pretentious bad taste.
1. Relating to, or characterized by, kitsch.

Kitsch comes from German.

January 13, 2011

Vintage Movable Review: Turtle and Her Friends

While Vojtech Kubasta is my favorite illustrator to come out of Czechoslovakia in the 1960’s he is by no means the only artist I admire from that era. Rudolph Lukes was an illustrator for the country’s publishing giant, Artia Prague. His color palette and design aesthetic are decidedly of the time and I find a certain charm in his depiction of animals. On display today is Turtle and Her Friends that was printed for Golden Press in 1968. We are all familiar with Golden Books and their ubiquitous gold spines lining most children’s bookshelves, but they did venture into a limited pop-up venture.

Lukes is restricted to only four spreads and the compositions are quieter than his contemporaries. I don’t know if it’s the simplicity and directness of the pop-ups or nostalgia for my youth, but the work always stands out to me when I see it in collections. It is unclear who paper engineered the pop-ups, but many of his titles are quite similar and I would not be surprised if Lukes was in fact the paper engineer. If anyone can shed some light of the life of Rudolph Lukes I would be very appreciative.


Word of the Day: Bucolic

bucolic \byoo-KOL-ik\, adjective

1. Relating to or typical of the countryside or its people; rustic.
2. Of or pertainting to the life and occupation of a shepherd; pastoral.

1. A pastoral poem, depicting rural affairs, and the life, manners, and occupation of shepherds.
2. A country person

Origin:  Bucolic derives from Greek boukolikos, "rustic; pastoral," from boukolos, "a cowherd; a herdsman" from bous, "a cow; an ox".

January 12, 2011

Word of the Day: Ossify

Ossify \AH-suh-fy\, intransitive verb1. To change into bone, to become bony.
2. To become hardened or set in a rigidly conventional pattern
Origin: Ossify is from Latin os, oss-, "bone" + -fy, from Latin -ficare, akin to facere, "to make"

History Lesson: Grand Canyon

January 11, 1908 President Theodore Roosevelt declared the Grand Canyon in Arizona a national monument.  Theodore said, "Let this great wonder of nature remain as it now is...You cannot improve on it. But what you can do is keep it for your children, your children’s children, and all who come after you, as the one great sight which every American should see."

January 11, 2011

Artist Watch: Night & Day Studios with Charlie Harper

Night & Day Studios has created an app for little hands and minds, 'Charlie Harper's Peekaboo Forest'.  It's beautifully designed, using Harper's bold, graphic animals to help teach children animal names and the sounds that they make.  There's also and option to change the animal names to Spanish.  We downloaded the app here at the studio and learned about butterflies and turtles in Spanish!  I can't wait to see more from this studio and hopefully from Charlie Harper as well!

To check out more apps from the studio:

Word of the Day: Lickerish

Lickerish:  \LIK-er-ish\, adjective;
1. Fond of and eager for choice food
2. Greedy; longing
Origin:  The Old French licherous ,"pleasing to the palate," evolved into both English words.

January 10, 2011

Word of the Day: Bibelot

bibelot \BEE-buh-loh\, noun
A small decorative object without practical utility; a trinket.  Bibelot originates from Old French beubelot, beubelet, "a small jewel, a trinket," from a reduplication of bel, "beautiful," from Latin bellus, "pretty, handsome." It is also related to bauble.


What’s Popped Up: Keeping Portland Weird Part 3

We continue on our rundown of day two at the Movable Book Society 8th Biennial Conference. Artists, Ilisha Helfman & Joe Freedman took to the podium for a lively presentation on the diverse works that they create in their studio located in downtown Portland.

Armed with a laser cutter and an active imagination, Joe and Ilisha gave us a virtual tour of their downtown Portland storefront and workshop called LeafPDX. They moved effortlessly between collapsible dioramas and expanding tunnel books, elaborately staged theatres and highly patterned houses. Inside the paper doll houses, miniature furniture displayed even smaller objects like intricate buttons. Joe shared the many diecut books, movable cards and volvelles that they had designed and produced for themselves and various clients. Ilisha talked about her love of textiles and design that was evident in her NYT blog which showcases imagined wardrobe from magazine clippings. Not to mention her passion for teaching workshops in “jazzknitting”. They finished their presentation with explanations of the antique optical toys that their company has updated with contemporary themes and constructions.

Once the slideshow was finished, the pair moved into the workshop portion of the day and led the large group through a step-by-step assembly of a meticulously prepared tunnel book kit of Portland, Oregon. With the aid of a few floating volunteers, members of conference constructed their own keepsake as Joe and Ilisha moved from table to table to offer advice and accept praises. In time, all the tabs were inserted and all the panels placed in the correct order and it was time to say goodbye to Joe Freedman and Ilisha Helfman. But not before we say hello to “Ole Million Face”.


January 7, 2011

Listen Up: Jack Peñate 'Pull My Heart Away'

Here's a simple music video for a really catchy tune by an English singer/songwriter Jack Peñate.  Armed with super 8 cameras and film, he and his friends made this video.  To check out more from Jack Peñate, click here!

Word of the Day: Nosegay

Nosegay- A bunch of odorous and showy flowers; a bouquet; a posy.  Origin:  Nosegay  is nose  and gay  joined together to mean "something bright and showy that one holds to the nose."

January 6, 2011

Vintage Movable Review: The Lion’s Den

In the early 1880’s, The New York publisher, McLoughlin Bros. issued ten dioramas “each presenting the appearance of a showy childs book” or so states the advertisement. They called it the Little Showman’s Series with four representations of the seasons and the remaining six single spread pop-up books depicting various scenes. Today we are able to view a much loved copy of The Lion's Den. A previous owner had pried the original bars off in hopes to free the captive lion and then took pencil in hand to embellish some of the text. Luckily, this pop-up cleaned up pretty well for us to enjoy. I really enjoy how the imagery pairs with the verses and will let the Brothers McLoughlin have the last word. “Each of these little Shows is perfect in itself…”


Word of the Day: Descry

Descry- To discover by observation; to detect.  From Old French descrier  to proclaim, decry

January 5, 2011

DIY Pop Up: Tron Paper Craft

Disney has put out some amazing paper crafts for Tron that you can print out and build yourself!  Who wouldn't want a Light Cycle to ride around town on?  Well, now you can build your own along with many other Tron themed paper crafts!  Just click this link to find them.

History Lesson: Mermaids

On January 9th, 1493 Italian explorer Christopher Columbus, sailing near the Dominican Republic, sees three "mermaids"--in reality manatees--and describes them as "not half as beautiful as they are painted."