It takes a gifted artist to become a great teacher and those who dare to teach never cease to learn.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Pop-ups and Movables -

(The Elements of Geometrie of the Most Auncient Philosopher Euclide of Megara printed in 1570 by J. Daye) 
By folding the paper and creating movement, paper engineers and pop-up artists change the two dimensional forms to three-dimensional experiences. Movable books have flaps, pull tabs and volvelles (wheels) initiating the movement on the surface. Pop-ups utilize different folding devices that makes the structure to lift, pop up, unfold or rise when the page is opened. These books were originally constructed for leaning purposes.

The earliest known examples of movable books are by Ramón Llull (c.1235-1316) of Majorca, a Catalán mystic and poet. He used volvelles or revolving discs to illustrate his complex philosophical search for truth. This was before the printing techniques were discovered. 
"Turn-up" or "lift-the-flap" mechanisms were in use as early as the fourteenth century. They were especially helpful in books on anatomy, where separate leaves, each featuring a different section of the body, could be hinged together at the top and attached to a page. Andreas Vesalius' De humani corporis fabrica librorum epitome, printed in Basel in 1543 features a movable illustration in which the human anatomy is shown in seven detailed superimposed layers.
Movable books were not created for young audiences until the latter half of the eighteenth century and early nineteenth century.

Read more about the history of this book-art form by clicking here. Photos from the Smithsonian Libraries Exhibition Gallery displays has at the moment an excellent exhibition “Paper Engineering: Fold, Pull, Pop & Turn”. The downloadable exhibition brochure is available here.  

Last weekend the Botanical Art and Illustration programs had an excellent two-day pop-up engineering workshop on flowers instructed by Shawn Sheehy.
See some photos from this workshop in the BI-facebook of by clicking here.

(Shawn Sheehy with Denver Botanical Illustration Programs)


Jessica Rosemary Shepherd said...

Fascinating post... just the kind of thing I like to read about. I had not idea that complicated books like that started so early on in history. I suppose it makes sense when one thinks about it though, as it is a simple idea, just complicated to achieve.

Time to make a botanical art book with a difference?!

Mervi Hjelmroos-Koski said...

The most remarkable detail is that every single pop-up book is assembled by a human hand - this cannot be done mechanically with a machine (a robot perhaps could be programmed???)