Workshop Prep

Class Packs & Love Letters

Putting together a packet to send to people who are taking zoom classes with me is much like sending out love letters. I consider each item I enclose, carefully collect them together, imagining how the receiver will feel when they arrive.

For about two week now, nearly every day I’ve said to myself that this is the day that I will finish up the planning the papers for my next set of classes,

I also thought I would quickly decide what to use, as I’ve taught many of these pleated and diagonally folded structures in the past. I should know by now that dashing off decisions isn’t something I tend to do.

My planning page of notes is full of question marks, cross-offs, arrows, checks, underlining, measurements, circles, and 5 different colors of writing, to distinguish different thoughts. I will choose a paper for a particular technique , then I will remember how it went last time I taught it, how one or two people had a hard time, and what could change up to make things more clear? I’ve experienced, more times than I could count, how a small shift in how I demonstrate something can have a huge effect on outcome. Sometimes that means preparing materials differently.

Turns out there are just a few of items that stay the same this time around.

Sometimes the paper I send out has been stored in my workshop for a long time. I have these papers because I like them so much. They’ve been protected in the precious bit of storage space that I have for such things. I will not be able to replace many of them because they are no longer being made, have risen in price dramatically, or I just don’t know how to identify them. I used to hate parting with these papers, and it does feel a bit bittersweet to send them off into the world, but, as I’m getting older I ‘m thinking that I don’t want to get buried beneath what I could not let go of.

When all the decisions are made, and I am ready to lay everything out, all the papers and all the sizes get written down in a ledger that I keep in my workspace. The ledger is 100 pages long. I am sad to see that I am now on page 97.

Here are some things I keep in mind. First is that I may sell very few of the packs: I am clear about wanting people to source their own materials if they want to. More and more, I don’t require specific papers to be used in my zoom classes, I will recommendations to materials that are widely available. For me, putting the pack together isn’t about selling them as much as it about making sure I have completely planned out the classes I will be teaching.

The next thing I think about is why people find value is buying the packs. Sometimes my packs are more costly than this $14 one, but even this one, after tax and postage, ends up costing more like $20. I aim for people being thrilled with what they gotten. My goals for packets can differ. For this one, I want people to have the experience of folding with different kinds of paper (Tyvek, Elephant Hide, Stardream, and others) that are not easy to get in small quantities. People don’t need my pack to learn what I will be teaching, but the collections I send out offer options that may be enriching.

(An important detail about including small items: they get overlooked. I now gather anything small and place them together in a large envelope. Today’s packet has some clear plastic in it. I haven’t done anything to keep that from getting lost…maybe I will put some blue tape on it.)

There are other reasons to make packs available, such as convenience. It’s one less thing for people to think about when they’ve made time in their busy lives to take a class. Some people feel unsure of the paper sourcing decisions that they would make. Then there are those who enjoy the connection of getting package in the mail. It’s a connection I’m happy to provide, because it makes me feel good too.

Today I’ve finished assembling this packet. The first four orders are going out, and I’m celebrating!

Registration for this class, afternoon or evening zoom sessions, is open until October 9, 2022


Guest Box

I will be attending a celebration sometime soon.

I’ve been asked to provide a guest book that is intended for people, not just to sign, but to write notes in. It makes perfect sense that I was asked to do this, but I didn’t want to make a book that would end up being mostly empty pages. I also considered that only one person can write in a book at a time.

Instead, I made a guest box that I think will work perfectly.

The box is filled with blank 5 inch by 7 inches card, which, with a few exceptions, are mostly, blank pieces of cover weight paper. I will pass out the cards, and leave some at a central spot, along with pens, markers, and colored pencils.

The plan is that people will get an email, in advance, to ask them to think of what they might write to the person we are reveling with. The idea is that the guest of honor will have something from each of us, something that we have had in our hands, that shares whatever we would like to express, and then, which neatly fits in a pretty box, as a way to easily hold and transport a community of love and appreciation.

This is a lightweight box, made of Crane’s Curious Metallics 92lb Cover Gold Leaf Card Stock.

After the box was assembled, I thought it was perhaps too light, so added an extra layer of paper to some parts of the box.

Used magnets and metal washers for the closures. Using washers with the magnets was the idea of a friend, Steven K. My husband’s workshop is like a hardware store, so it was easy to get what I wanted. I chose small, thin, washers that, like the magnets are held in place and mostly hidden by being sandwiched between layers of paper.

Included some decorative elements too.

Used PVA to hold the structural elements of the box together, but used glue sticks when I was adding the extra layers, as I wanted to reduce the amount of moisture that I’d introducing on to the box.

Quite pleased with this project. Will write an update on how it works out.

Update: The box was a great success! I waited to announce it until about half-way into the event, after the initial excitement of getting together had calmed down. After that, whenever I looked around the room I’d see people with cards and writing/drawing tools making marks on paper and pondering notes to the guests of honor. Then today I got the loveliest message from the recipient of all these notes, expressing her thanks at having received this gift.


Rather Strange Solids

Johnson Solid #63 Tridiminished Icosahedron
two Tridiminished Icosahedrons

There is group of solid shapes that I stumbled upon just a few years ago.

There is no way of know what these solids (aka polyhedrons) look like until you hold them in your hand. Photographs just can’t capture them.

Pumpkins and Disphenocingulums

They are called Johnson Solids. I wrote about seven of them last year around this time.

Some Johnson Solids make great lanterns
Some Johnson Solids make great lanterns

Right now, a few of the ones I made last fall are hanging, like little planets, in a storefront about 5 miles from my home here in Upstate NY.

Main Street, Salem NY

You have to zoom in to see them as they are not the main event.

Floating Johnson Solids, Main Street, Salem NY

What initially attracted me to these strange shapes was that they have wild names. The first one I looked at, the gyrobifastigium, interested me solely because the name seemed so goofy.

Six Gyrobifastigium

There are two things about these shapes, of which there are 92, that are compelling. One is that they are so uncooperative that they seem to invite poking and prodding. What do can do with these? The second is that I can’t envision what they look like until I can hold them in my hands. Making one is like opening a present.

I will be introducing these shapes, as well as others, to the unsuspecting people who have signed up for my Realm of Solids class, which starts in about ten days. Looking forward to seeing what they come up with when I set them loose on these constructions.

If you want to join in, there are only a couple of days left before registration closes.

Evening Session

Afternoon Session

Below, watch how these little beauties combat the darkness.

Working with Paper · Zoom Workshop

Playing with Plato

Shapes that Plato Played with

Oh why did I not think of the title Playing with Plato sooner?!

In about 4 days registration closes for my Realm of Solids zoom class at the Center for Book Arts. Both sessions, the evening and the afternoon, have enough sign-ups so the classes will be running. This is a good thing, (yay!) as the first time a class is offered, there’s no guarantee of interest.

There is a Green Pepper Hiding in this photograph

I’m going to try highlight this class for the next few days, thinking that if you just knew about it, you’d want to take it. Here’s the thing: in learning to build these forms, knowledge and skill with methods and materials of any kind of paper/book art is enhanced.

One may heroes, Franz Zeier, says it best: ” The inclusion of the chapter on making geometric solids is only superficially surprising. If manual dexterity in dealing with paper is desired, the construction of multisurfaced figures serves this goal.”

There it is!

There are absolutely non-intutive ways of working with paper that have taken me years to discover. Am looking forward offering a path into this world. Various kinds of constructions and novel ways of creating your own variations will be shown. These classes happen on-line, on three Mondays, staring September 19.

Be there and be square.

Evening Session

Afternoon Session