“A pop-up needs a fold:” this is what I say whenever I begin showing a class how to make a pop-up. Ha! Turns out I was wrong! Paul Johnson’s show at the North Main Gallery in Salem N.Y. has authoritatively proven me to be completely mistaken. Throughout this generous celebration of structurally engineered books there is not a fold, in or out of sight.
This is not a show of books with pages that turn to reveal a sequence of cleverly folded and glued structures that seem to magically jump off the page. Instead, in many cases, the books themselves begin as appearing rather flat, then they simply explode into space. And it’s not folds or glues that are responsible for these feats. It’s …
…hinges. Well bust my britches, I never thought about creating non-folded hinges for pop-ups The roof piece above is joined together by making opposing slits in two separate pieces of paper. Johnson also makes good use of piano hinges -this link is a piano-hinge-tutorial by Wendy Southin- as well as dovetail joints, which I have to say I have never seen a bookbinder use in paper engineering.
It was not just a few books here, but rather a plethora of book structures and book sculptures, each one as unusual as inventive as any I’ve seen. Now I know I haven’t stepped back here and given you much of the big picture: that’s more than I can process for one post. The overall look of the show is stunning, as is each book in the show. But those photos will have to wait for a later post. It’s the details that I am so intrigued with today.
This show, it’s quite a ride. Up until October 4.
Oh, and if you are an educator and you are wondering if this is the same Paul Johnson who writes prolific amounts about Literacy and Book Arts, yes, this is him.