Constraints applied to Paper

Video Link of this Fireworks card

After a whirlwind of teaching multi-session workshops, this summer I’m turning my attention to single session summer classes at the Center for Books Arts. There are certain moveable constructions that are so simply ingenious and full of possibilities that I personally continually revisit them but rarely teach. I decided that summer should be low stress, so I thought it would be fun to pick out some of these favorite paper-engineered structures to show.

Joke’s on me!

I tend to forget that teaching something requires a clarity that is different than when I make something on my own. I’ve been spending days and days reworking templates on strategies.

Coming up this week (classes whose registrations, at the moment, are so small that if anyone wants to be in an intimate class, this is the week to join in) is one of the sweetest, most elegant structures one can do that is both surprising and accessible – by which I mean it’s a good one to teach to children. The one characteristic that I particularly like is that the paper engineering is one that uses a constraint. The colors can be wild, but the paper is controlled.

Here’s what I mean.

Here are some unconstrainted strips of paper just glued to the page. The way that they are they would just wiggle freely. See the paper behind with the holes? The paper will be threaded through the holes to create what I am going for.

In this case, what I’ve made is something like a lollipop farm.

Here’s another…

Waiting to Bloom

Above is the closed version of this card.

Below is the open version


I can have fun with these all day long. They give me a great excuse to use up lots of these gorgeous bits of cut paper I keep around.

I make these abstract cards.

Closed above, open below

These are such a great fun. I’m looking forward to teaching these this week, as I am always delighted to see how other people choose to use something that I find to be enchanting.


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