March 31, 2011

Vintage Movable Review: Mercedes-Benz Ad

Today’s selection is another mysterious pop-up advertisement. Back in the 1990’s Mercedes-Benz wanted to hand you “your passport to 21st century motoring”. Sadly, the faux passport that accompanied this pop-up mailer has gone missing, which would have shed some light on this campaign. Luckily, we can still enjoy the pop-up as is. This type of promotion would have been handed to potential clients or sent through the mail. Once taken out of the large envelope, the rubber band springs open a colorful car showroom, where a creepy looking magician/entertainer (who is a dead ringer for a chubby Dr. Doom) is unveiling the new Mercedes-Benz car model. If this is my passport to the future then it appears that I have nothing to declare.


Word of Day: Cloud-cuckoo-land

Cloud-cuckoo-land  \KLOUD-koo-koo-land\ noun

1. An idealized, unrealistic state; a place out of touch with reality; an imaginary place where silly or unrealistic people metaphorically reside.

Origin: From Greek Nephelokokkugianepele 'cloud' + kokkux 'cuckoo'.  The word was coined in 'The Birds', a comedy by Athenian playwright Aristophanes.  Nephelokokkugia was the name of a city in the sky, built by the birds in collaboration with some Athenians.


March 30, 2011

Artist Watch: Blu

Blu is an Italian street artist, he started painting on Bologna's walls around 1999 but since then he has spread his work everywhere around the world.
His murals are always related and strongly linked with the place where he paints them, his works always try to engage the people in a quiet yet powerful way.
His art has contributed to a radical and silent change in contemporary art business by trying to make it free or much more available.

I had the chance to meet him when I was 16 and I still remember how he surprised me.
He was much shorter than I though (his walls are huge, I expected him to be very tall) and he didn't say much but I won't ever forget his gentle attitude, much more eloquent then any word.

Find out more about Blu here:


Word of Day: Oblivescence

Oblivescence /ob-luh-ves-uhns/ noun

1. The process of forgetting

Origin:  Oblivescence comes from Latin obliv 'to forget'

History Lesson: April Fool's Day

April Fool's Day is a tradition that dates back as far as 1582.  Historians speculate that April Fool's Day may have come from when France switched to the Gregorian calendar from the Julian calendar.  People had not realized that the new year began on January 1 and continued to celebrate the new year on April 1.  These people soon became the butt of many jokes and hoaxes; these included paper fish placed on their backs and were then called 'poisson d'avril' (April Fish) which is to symbolize young, easily caught fish and also a gullible person.

April Fool's Day came and spread through Britain and Scotland in the 18th century.  This became a two day event where people were sent on phone errands, and the second day called 'Tailie Day' involved pranks played on people's backside with pinned on tails and 'kick' me signs!

Even modern times people have carried out elaborate April Fool's Day hoaxes.  Radio, TV stations, Web sites, and newspapers have all had their fair share of hoaxes.

March 29, 2011

Word of the Day: Stanch

Stanch \STONCH; STANCH\ transitive verb

1. To stop the flowing of; to check in its course; also, to stop the flowing of blood from; as, "to stanch a wound."

Origin: Stanch is from Old French estancher, "to stop a liquid from flowing".

Weekly Beast: Aye-aye

The aye-aye (Daubentonia madagascariensis) is a lemur, a strepsirrhine primate native to Madagascar that combines rodent-like teeth and a special thin middle finger to fill the same ecological niche as a woodpecker. It is the world's largest nocturnal primate, and is characterized by its unusual method of finding food; it taps on trees to find grubs, then gnaws holes in the wood and inserts its narrow middle finger to pull the grubs out.


March 28, 2011

Whats Popped Up: A bunch of Bologna

One of the biggest events in the children’s book industry starts today. The Bologna Children’s Book Fair has just begun and lasts for the next four days. In it’s 48th edition, this fair brings together authors, illustrators, publishers, literary agents, packagers, printers, booksellers, librarians, and many more to learn about the latest trends and developments in children’s books. Pop-up packagers and paper engineers make their way to Italy to complete a marathon of meetings with publishers and manufacturers as they present the prototypes of new titles and ideas. With roughly 1300 exhibitors from 67 countries, the massive convention space is host to thousands of industry professionals (so no kiddies, here). Every year there is an honorary country promoted at the fair and this year’s guest will be Lithuania.

I have heard many great stories of past fairs in Bologna from pop-up artists like David Carter, Ron van der Meer, Robert Sabuda and Sam Ita, and hope that one day I will get a chance to wander the massive exhibition halls and get lost in a world of wonder and possibility. But I better plan ahead because even though it’s the first day of the Fair, hotels are already booking up for next year!


Word of the Day: Nemesis

Nemesis \nem-UH-sis\ noun

1. A source of harm or ruin.
2. Retributive justice in its execution or outcome.
3. An opponent that cannot be beaten or overcome.
Origin: In Greek némesis literally 'a dealing out' verbid of némein 'to dispense (justice)'.  Also in Greek mythology, Nemesis was the goddess of retributive justice or vengeance.

March 24, 2011

Artist Watch: Kyle Bean

Kyle Bean is a Brighton based young designer. With his "hand crafted mind" he creates projects that make me smile.  A chicken made out of eggs, a computer cut out from a book, a bunch of band instruments covered with musical scores. From looking at his art, I feel I understand everything about it and I don't even ask myself whether the music or the instruments came first, I just enjoy both for being real.  You can find more about Kyle Bean and his work here.


Vintage Movable Review: Statistics Weekly

Another interesting advertisement from the Land Down Under. There is no date but by looks of the clothing and hairstyles I’ll put this in the late 80’s (but then again I remember seeing a lot of mullets in my travels in Australia in the late 90’s, so who knows). The Australian Bureau of Statistics wants to make your life a little more colorful by providing access to their Statistics Weekly commentary. To illustrate the point the movable mailer employs a clever mechanism. I don’t want to ruin the magic on this one so just sit back and enjoy the video.


Word of the Day: Shoal

Shoal \shohl\ noun

1. A shallow area in a body of water.
2. A sandbank or sandbar in the bed of a body of water, constituting a navigation hazard. 

Origin: Before 900, Middle English shald, and Old English sceald  'shallow'.

March 23, 2011

History Lesson: Stephen Sondheim is Born

On March 22, 1930, Stephen Sondheim is born in New York City.  Sondheim is known for his American musical theater work in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s.  Not influenced by rock and roll, Sondheim was moved by the Broadway theater that was filled with top hats, chorus lines and big, show-stopping production numbers.  He went on to write the lyrics for West Side Story, Gypsy, and then wrote both the words and music for A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.

Word of the Day: Valetudinarian

Valetudinarian \val-i-tood-n-AIR-ee-uhn\ noun

1. A weak or sickly person, especially one who is constantly or overly worried about his or her health.  A valetudinarian is in much worse shape than a mere hypochondriac. 

Origin:  Valetudinarian is from Latin valetudo 'state of health', from valere "to be well".

March 22, 2011

Artist Watch: Nate Coonrad

Just came across the work of Brooklyn-based artist, Nate Coonrad. I love his design sense in the illustration “above/below”, but it’s his works in paper that really grabbed my attention. The papercraft version of Nate is fun and his recent pop-up book promotion for Nokia is really well done. Working with a team at the ad agency, Wieden + Kennedy NY, Nate created seven pop-up compositions with an inset at the end of the book to house the Nokia N8 smartphone. The designers go a step further and house the “Where should we go?” book in an attractive custom case (which I would handcuff to my wrist so nobody could take away this clever promotion). Since you cannot get the pop-up book in person, check out a nice video of the book in action here.


Weekly Beast: Proboscis Monkey

The proboscis monkey is found only on the island of Borneo in Southeast Asia.
It gets its name from its large, fleshy nose. 
Its ability to eat mainly leaves gives it a niche where it's the only medium sized mammal living in the canopy of the forest.


Word of the Day: Eidos

 Eidos \AHY-dos, EY-dos\ noun
1. The formal sum of a culture, its intellectual character, ideas, etc. 
Origin:  From Greek eidos (form, idea), ultimately from the Indo-European root weid- (to see), which is the source of words such as wise, view, supervise, wit.

March 21, 2011

Whats Popped Up: Made in Italy

This morning we had a special delivery from Italy. After a very successful internship last year with us, we are happy to welcome back our newest paper engineer, Giovanni. I first met Gio at the recent Movable Book Society conference in Portland, where the wild haired young man did his best Johnny Appleseed impression as he entered the hotel holding a tree branch with pop-up apple business cards dangling from the leaves. He then enthusiastically shared some of the pop-up creations he had made during school. Now back in the new year with a new look, Gio will be helping us on some big upcoming projects as he learns what it takes to make a pop-up book. (In fact, with his new haircut he looks a lot like the boy in this beloved Italian commercial for Big Frut.)


Word of the Day: Juxtaposition

Juxtaposition \juhk-stuh-puh-ZISH-uhn\ noun

1. The act or an instance of placing in nearness or side by side.

Origin: Juxtaposition comes from Latin juxta, "near" + positio, "position", from the past participle of ponere, "to put, to place."  The related verb juxtapose means "to place side by side".

March 18, 2011

Listen Up: 'Istanbul (Not Constantinople)'

There are days where I get the most random song stuck in my head.  Today is a song that we hear regularly at the studio on the 1950's radio station, it's 'Istanbul (Not Constantinople)' by The Four Lads.  The song refers to the name change of Constantinople to the Turkish name Istanbul.  It also mentions that New York City was first named New Amsterdam.

The song was originally written by Jimmy Kennedy and was recorded by The Four Lads in August of 1953.  The song peaked at #10 on the Billboard charts.

Check out the hypnotic video of the record and try not to get the song stuck in your head!


Word of the Day: Orotund

Orotund \OR-uh-tuhnd\ adjective

1. Characterized by fullness, clarity, strength, and smoothness of sound.
2. Pompous; bombastic.

Origin: Orotund derives from Latin ore rotundo, "with a round mouth", hence "clear, loud," from os, oris, "the mouth" + rotundus, "round".  It is related to oral.


March 17, 2011

Vintage Movable Review: Northern Trust Bank

I recently received a treasure trove of pop-up ephemera from Australian pop-up collector and all around great bloke, Corrie Allegro. He and his wife have run a graphic design firm in Victoria, Australia for the past thirty years, where he developed an insatiable taste for movable and pop-up designs. Corrie has recently created a blog to share more about his massive collection.

Today we get to check out a quirky pop-up magazine insert from 1987. This advertisement for Northern Trust Bank asks “If you think nobody cares if you’re alive… try missing a couple of loan payments” as the single spread pop-up unfolds to reveal angry creditors knocking at an office door while a nervous man barricades it from the other side. The quote is attributed to the New York Post gossip columnist, Earl Wilson. The ad uses humor, catchy (if dated) artwork, and a great pop-up design to talk about something as boring as commercial banking. There is no information on the paper engineer or manufacturer of this piece, but it feels like something that Intervisual would have created. So in lieu of any more information on this piece I’ll leave you with a few more quips from “Midnight Earl”. Enjoy.


Word of the Day: Nostrum

Nostrum \NOS-truhm\ noun

1. A medicine of secret composition and unproven or dubious effectiveness; a quack medicine.

2. A usually questionable remedy or scheme; a cure-all.

Origin: Nostrum comes from Latin nostrum (remedium) "our (remedy)," from nos "we".

March 16, 2011

History Lesson: the Moondog Coronation Ball

On March 21, 1952 screaming rock and roll fans broke through the gates at the Cleveland Arena to be a part of one of history's first rock concerts.  The event was called the Moondog Coronation Ball and was hosted by disk jockey Alan Freed and radio station WJW.  It's recognized as one of the first rock concerts because at that point in history, no one had heard of a "rock concert".

With the help of massive ticket counterfeiting and possibly overbooking on the part of the event's sponsors and estimated 20,000-25,000 fans came out for the rock concert.  The Cleveland Arena's capacity was only 10,000!  Thus the event was canceled after the other 15,000 fans broke through the gates.

Word of the Day: Bonhomie

Bonhomie \bah-nuh-MEE\ noun

1. A good nature; pleasant and easy manner

Origin: Bonhomie comes from French, from bonhomme, "good-natured man," from bon, "good" (from Latin bonus) + homme, "man" (from Latin homo).

March 15, 2011

Artist Watch: Hina Aoyama

One of my favorite blogs is Upon a fold out of Australia. Justine finds some of the most beautiful paper artists from all over the world. Recently, she introduced me to the Japanese born artist, Hina Aoyama. She has been creating delicate cut paper creations using just scissors for a few years now and the works are a marvel to behold. I thought I was pretty good with a pair of scissors but her hand skills and patience is on a whole new level. You can see a video of Hina snipping away at an earlier work here.


Weekly Beast: Handfish

The handfish are an anglerfish in the family Brachionichthyidae.  They are a small bottom-dwelling fish that is found in the coastal waters of southern Australia and Tasmania.  The handfish are really unusual, as they prefer to 'walk' instead of swim!  You can see them in action in the video below!

Word of the Day: Sang-froid

Sang-froid \sang-FRWAH\ noun

1. Freedom from agitation or excitement of mind; coolness in trying circumstances; calmness.

Origin: Sang-froid is from the French; it literally means "cold blood" (sang "blood" + froid "cold").

March 14, 2011

Whats Popped Up: Engaging pop-up book

One month ago, I asked my long-time love to marry me. During our Valentine’s dinner I wooed her with flowers, chocolates, and an elaborate home cooked meal. In return she sang me a German love song and presented me with a beautiful letterpress card and framed photograph of the two of us. Now, being a paper engineer has a lot of perks. I get to cut and paste paper all day long and make children’s pop-up books, but there is a downside. Your girlfriend knows your capacities and over the years comes to expect the occasional custom pop-up card. But I think that I was able to surprise her this time with a hand bound three page pop-up book. It is rare to make her speechless but rest assured that by the end of the book as I asked her a question on bended knee, she managed to whisper a single word…yes!


Word of Day: Nth

Nth \ENTH\ adjective

1. Being the last in a series of infinitely decreasing or increasing values, amounts, etc.

2. (Of an item in a series of occurrences, planned events, things used, etc., that is thought of as being infinitely large) being the latest, or most recent.

Origin: Nth is the figurative use of the mathematical term indication indefinite number, in which n is an abbreviation for number.

March 10, 2011

Vintage Movable Review: Hand Semaphore Trainer

Today’s item came from the United States Navy Special Devices Center. (I’ve often wondered what other oddities came out of this cryptic naval office.) Dated around 1965, we have a Hand Semaphore Trainer (device no. 12-WW-2) manufactured by the Einson Freeman Co. Inc. [Fun fact: Founder, Morris Einson is recognized as “America’s Picture Puzzle King”.]

The Semaphore trainer is intriguing and especially effective as it utilizes both sides of the movable wheel in training aspiring flag wavers. If you are receiving a message than you spin the dial until it matches the hand positions presented by a faceless seaman, thus decoding a single letter. Flip the card over and line up the letter to learn the correct gestures to send your message.

For the landlubbers among us, flag semaphore is a method of communicating over a distance by means of visual signals with hand-held flags. Semaphore has been used in the maritime world since the early 19th century, but the term is from the ancient Greek for “sign bearer”.

While I may not have any immediate use for this trainer I was able to put it to the test in decoding the Fab Four figures on the front of their Help! album (which was also coincidentally created in 1965). I thought I had stumbled upon an early clue to who was the walrus, but it turns out they are calling out Nujv! since the producers didn’t like the original hand positions. We may have been tricked by the Beatles, but at least we can be confident able the origins of the peace symbol. A synthesis of the semaphore symbols N+D, which stands for nuclear disarmament. Peace.


Listen Up: My Drive Thru

'My Drive Thru' by Santogold, Julian Casablancas, and N.E.R.D is a song that was produced for Converse's centennial.  The idea behind the music video is paper cut out dolls that are linked together, and that people are linked together by their Converse shoes.  Doesn't sound like much, but once you watch the video it's a really fantastic concept.

I am really in love with the handmade and tactile feel for the video-- paper cut outs being animated?  Count me in!  The music video took about 4 months from start to finish where they not only used CGI they also used nearly 10,000 paper cutouts of the artists!  That's a lot of paper!

Word of the Day: Surreptitious

Surreptitious \suhr-uhp-TISH-uhs\ adjective

1. Done, made, or gotten by stealth

2. Acting with or marked by stealth

Origin: Surreptitious comes from Latin surrepticius, "stolen, secret, surreptitious", from surripere, "to take away secretly; to steal", from sub- "under' + rapere "to seize, to snatch".

March 9, 2011

History Lesson: The Barbie Doll is Introduced

On March 9th, 1959 the first Barbie doll goes on display at the American Toy Fair in New York City.  She was the first doll that was made with adult features and mass produced in the United States.

The doll was named after Ruth Handler's (the woman behind Barbie) daughter Barbara.  After watching her daughter play with paper dolls of adult women instead of baby dolls, Handler realized that there was a part in the toy market that had yet to be fulfilled.  Thus Handler created Barbie so that little girls could play and imagine the future.

Even though Barbie has seen some controversy the positive note of the doll is that she provided a different role model for little girls of the 1950s.  Barbie has held many different jobs such as doctor, pilot, Olympic athlete, and even U.S. presidential candidate.

DIY Pop Up: Easter Bunny

Spring is just around the corner and so is Easter!  Check out our DIY Easter pop up that you can make yourself.  Have fun coloring the eggs and cutting out the cute bunny!

Word of the Day: Lambent

Lambent \LAM-buhnt\ adjective

1. Playing lightly on or over a surface; flickering; as, "a lambent flame; lambent shadows."
2. Softly bright or radiant; luminous
3. Light and brilliant

Origin: Lambent is from the present participle of Larin lambere, "to lick".


March 8, 2011

Word of the Day: Protean

Protean \PROH-tee-uhn\ adjective

1. Readily assuming different forms or characters; extremely variable.

1598, from Gk. Proteus,  sea god (son of Oceanus and Tethys) who could change his form; his name is lit. "first," from protos  "first."