Pressure to make

A few months ago, I promised myself I’d spend until the end of the year making pop-up books. Over the past few weeks, I’ve learned so much reading and seeing beautiful old pop-up books with the help of friends. It’s been a great self-imposed adventure.

The thing I like most about pop-ups is the simple cut. One cut can make all the difference to turn an ordinary page fold into one that conveys a story in its form as much as in the illustration. In the end, I think these simple folds/cuts will always be my favorite.

But when you explore, you also have to do the things you don’t think you’ll like. In this case, it’s making the pop-up books that involve a lot of cuts and separate pieces I have to glue together. It’s a horror show to organize, and I’m not typically that organized,  so this one’s been taking a long time to figure out.

This is the format I’ve chosen, a convention that’s typically used in pop-up cards, which are also rare these days.


Unfortunately in that state, it’s a card, not a book. When I first sketched this, I thought it would be enough to make a book that’s just one pop-up like this, but I knew it was cop out.


That just means a lot of sketching and brain work.


The work compounds.


Can you tell what’s going on? That’s the state I’m currently in– the experimental stage, but I’m excited and horrified.


The Odyssey: A pop-up book adventure

The odyssey of the pop-up book, the Odyssey.

1. Generally, I start without an expectation. All I wanted to do was make a pop-up book with all the new techniques I learned for the past few weeks. First I thought I could make funny hats and then I liked how a certain pop-up would make a great umbrella. From there, I challenged myself to think of all the ways someone could find shelter from the rain and suddenly, the Odyssey was conceived!


2. Make a mini. Once the idea was there, I made a mini mockup. How mini, you ask? Let the dollar bill shed some light and show off my riches.


3. Make it big. Once I was happy with a layout, I made a full-size version and the broke it apart to prep it for silkscreen separations.


4. Make separations. At this stage, I knew how I’d be separating the colors, but not necessarily what colors I’d use to print.


5. Screenprint. You know how that goes.


6. Cut, fold, score, cut, fold, score. I don’t have any pictures but it deserves its own painstaking step. I timed myself like a proper scientist and it took me 25 minutes to cut, score, fold, and assemble my first book, which I streamlined to 7 minutes by my last book.

7. Behold, The Odyssey!


Of note:

  • In the end, 15 books survived to the end of the journey.
  • I’ll be making some additional packaging to wrap the books in soon.
  • Pop-up books are tiring to make but I really like them.
  • The same dollar bill was used for all the above images.

The life of a sketchbook

Each sketchbook is special, but there are a lot of things they have in common.

Always included are its date of birth and death and a list of its greatest achievements.


It’s also a nice place to be messy and ugly.


Below, I was struggling with drawing dogs, deciding what stars looked better, and what people should be doing in a forest.



There’s also bound to be math. Making books is as much a creative effort as it is making economical use of  paper. I also make little mockups for cuteness and to ensure it feels good to use.


Not such a bad life for a sketchbook. :)

Adventures in pop-ups

As a pop-up book maker novice, I’m probably amazed by the simplest of tricks.

Take this one exercise from The Pocket Paper Engineer, Volume I:


Essentially, you are drawing the same shape in 2D space, but not when all is cut and folded in 3D space.


With that guiding principle, I started to successfully and unsuccessfully experiment with other forms of the same idea.


After my first cut, I thought, “wow, this could make some really great trees,” which spawned the rest. This is my favorite part– when no ideas are wrong.

More updates as I start making real popup books!

Fall theme: popups

So the summer theme for my books ended up being slants. It was really fun just riffing on one topic so I’m going to try another one this fall: pop-up books!

I’ve loved popup books since I was a wee child. Three years ago, I wanted to rekindle my love and bought The Pocket Paper Engineer, Volume I thinking that I would spend a weekend picking up the basics. Three years later, I’m blowing the dust off the cover.


My first mockup above took over a week to make. All I have to say so far is that pop up books are hard.

Fleeting ideas

To me, ideas are like dreams. If they haven’t traumatized you or you don’t write them down, they’re just going to slip away. That’s why I’ve been keeping a steady log of my ideas since I promised to in the beginning of 2012 and feel like I have a good hold on the fort. Some things I’ve realized:

It’s now clear when I did what.
I date my notebooks and each day that I make a new entry. It’s crazy how quickly I’ll forget everything. I also write the titles of any ideas I want to come back to on the cover for quick reference.


These books are now my memory.
How did I come up with that idea? What could it have been instead? Did it take a lot of work? I won’t remember but my logs have the answer!


Bad ideas need a home too.
Maybe they won’t be so bad in a few years… or maybe they will.


Ideas are the best! Don’t let yours go.

My working space

I used to have one desk that split its time between computer designing, drawing, eating, and occasionally sleeping. After a few years, doing everything in one space felt unhealthy to say the least. When I moved last year, I decided to give myself some space to draw.

The cork board is for ideas and lots of to-do lists. I try not to clutter it.

I try to keep everything in its place. Nowadays, most of my supplies are for making separations for screenprinting and production work for bookmaking.

This shelf is the nursery. All new books live here until they find themselves a new home.

I don’t have a fancy setup but its clean and I’ve been less distracted working there. If you can carve out even just a tiny corner of your room just for bring creative, I’d recommend it.

Summer of slants

I’m pretty happy about summer flying by. I can’t wait to say goodbye to sticky, humid weather and hello to light jackets and scarves. Meanwhile, I’ve been keeping myself busy.

In April, a friend took me to the Antiquarian Book Fair and I was introduced to the world of collecting books. I didn’t know what to expect but I found many inspiring books from the olden days that I wanted to spin into my own work.

This is one of them:

The Slant Book’s images and text are also slanted on the slanted pages to tell a story about what happens when a stroller, with a baby boy inside, is inadvertently rolled down a long hill. What a genius idea! How could I use that slant to tell a story in my own way?

1. Ghost Seasons
In this case, the slant lets me showcase all the seasons at once.

slantseason-01From top to bottom: Winter, spring, summer, fall.

Summer to fall

Winter to summer

2. Ghost City
Here, the slant make the buildings look more epic. I think this book looks best open on display.


More soon!

Aches, finally complete.

Remember the old project Aches that I was working on a few months ago? It was a series of 5 prints about aches and ghosts. The prints themselves came so easily to me, but I have been toiling for months trying to find the proper box/folder/cover to house them in. I bought grommets, folders, rubber bands, and other experimental items just to toss them aside.

In the end, I came up with a pocket folder that looks like a medical folder. It doesn’t have any fancy doodads, but I think it’s appropriately simple:


Fast facts:

  • Edition of 10
  • Prints: Peschia White paper
  • Folder: Stonehenge Black paper
  • Size: 6.5″ x 8.5″