Tool Tips

Just finished a stretch of teaching and co-teaching book arts to adults. One thing that is different about working with adults, as opposed to children, is that the adults enter the room (virtual or otherwise) with experience, knowledge, and willingness to share.

I will slowly be going through piles recommendations. For now, here are some that stand out.

I hadn’t heard of Terial Magic This product is used to treat fabric. Just to go the website and read about it. This sentence of theirs really stands out to me: “Print directly on treated fabric and set with iron to make ink permanent.” How cool does that sound? Thanks to Marguerite.

My friend and sometimes collaborator Susan J Share has gotten me using micro spatulas. An incredibly handy tool. Susan has also gotten me to reach for my triangle tools more often.

When Clara made a Hedi Kyle Beltstrap closure that looked better than any I seen before, she told us she made it from Khadi paper. I can’t remember who then mentioned the Morgan Conservatory shop, but wow, I hadn’t seen that paper source before. They don’t seem to have the khadi paper, but a simple Google search shows up plenty of sources.

Last year Susan introduced me to Kraftex, a super versatile material that is great to use for zhen xian bao and book covers. This year, the new exciting material to explore is cork fabric! I haven’t placed my first order yet, but the work that Jo did with it is so compelling that I am looing forward to diving in .

Closures were a big theme in the zhen xian bao class that Susan and I taught. We both were constantly experimenting with closure solutions. I like this gold 1mm elastic featured in the photo at the top of the page.

An item that I recommended to everyone, over and over again, is a small scoring board. I was a real snob when it came to considering getting myself one of these, but once I did, it was clear that it made so many moments easier to navigate that I now have three, so there’s always one close by. There are many different types, with slightly different designs that actually make a big difference. There’s not any one I recommend: it’s all about your own preference. It bears saying that there is a learning curve to using these items efficiently. I made a video sometime ago to explain all, but never posted it here on my blog, so that’s what I am doing now.

When I bought my first scoring boards I was paying between $25 and $50 for them. Their price has gone way done. Go figure. Be sure to shop around.

Have fun checking these things out.

Zhen Xian Bao

Flower Top Box, Revisited

Just finished up co-teaching Zhen Xain Bao in Depth (ZXBinD), 2 sessions a week, for 10 weeks, with 34 participants. Susan Share and I had a great time working with the adults who were in the folding zone with us since early February. More about that in the future. For now, I want to post a video of something people in the class have been CLAMORING for!

It’s the flower top box, revisited. Several years ago I wrote a post and made a video tutorial on how to make this enchanting structure, which I learned from a book written in 1948 by Maying Soong. So why revisit? Recently I sat in on a presentation of Zhen Xian Bao (Chinese Threat Book) that Joan Sallas did for Ukrainian teachers. He finished off by making a flower top box that ended up looking just like the ones that I’ve been making, but his workflow was entirely different.

I failed over and over to recreate his steps. Literally hours before I was scheduled to teach this structure to the ZXBinD group I contacted Joan. He asked me to send him a zoom link, then demonstrated his method, which I have mimicked in the video below. I love this method, and am so grateful to Joan Sallas for going through these steps with me.

When we got off the zoom, I realized that, in his part of the world, he was tutoring me at midnight his time. Wow. So thankful.

The Flower Top Box, Joan Sallas method:

Having changed the way I make these boxes. I am enjoying them more, and they even seem prettier to me than before.

If you want to look at the original post and video for this structure from 2018, which includes lots of photos, including one of Susan Share and I working out some details of folding, and a link to a great post by Cathryn Miller, visit this link:

One more thing: many people in the class that Susan and just taught had found this link to Hedi Kyle’s belt closure on their own. Here it is, just in case you’ve missed it.

Math with Art Supplies

The Center of a Circle

After teaching this in a number of classes, I hear that I’ve been getting credit for this method of finding the center of a circle. Just setting the record straight: thanks goes to Greek mathematician Thales of Miletus, who lived just under 3000 years ago.

This is for anyone who has ever used a lid to make a circle, then is left wondering where exactly is the center. What makes this method so accessible is that we all have the essential tools: a pencil, a straight edge, and a piece of paper that has corners.

The surprise is that if you touch the perimeter of a circle with the regular corner of a piece of paper (which is typically 90 degrees, a right angle), draw in the edges of the paper to the point where they intersect the circle,…

…then connect those intersecting points with each other, you end up with a line that is not only the longest side of a triangle, but it’s also the diameter of the circle. Who would have thought that this would be true? Well, Miletus did.

What good is a diameter for finding the center of the circle? Not a whole lot of good, actually. But what if you repeat all of the steps above, but, second time around, start out touching a different part of your circle with the corner of your paper?

Look! The diameters intersect, and that’s the center of the circle.

Just to be sure, there’s no reason not to make a whole lot more of these right triangles.

Great. Now what?

Do whatever you want. That part is up to you.

If you want to give me credit, instead of calling this Thales Circle Theorem, feel free to call it Paula’s way of finding the center of a circle. I’m good with that.

polyhedra · Solids

Polyhedra are like Tribbles

Polyhedrons in my office

“,,,,make a couple more. Decorate your home. Show your friends. Impress your neighbors. Start a club. Make lots more. Pile them high on every horizontal surface you own. Put them in large boxes and carry them with you every time you move. Make even more. They’re like tribbles…” ~George Hart

I’ve been sniffing out polyhedra, aka three-dimensional solid shapes, for some time. The more time I spend with them, the more enchanting they seem to be. There is something so satisfying about seeing what a shape look like in the real world. Pictures, even animated ones, just aren’t good enough.

It’s true what mathematician George Hart says about these. I can imagine his own workspace is busting with polyhedra. I’m trying to space mine apart in different rooms, so as not to give the impression of an invasion. This strategy, predictably, is failing.

It doesn’t help that I’m teaching classes in that focus on these solid forms, as I feel duty bound to make more and more and more. It’s so much fun.

Polyhedrons in the bookcase

Even so, I’ve been enviously looking at my friend Jane’s creations lately. She makes stunning decorations on cookies. I bet she doesn’t have a problem with storage.

I could just stop making them, but that doesn’t seem to be happening. At the moment I have it in my mind to make all thirteen of the Archimedean solids, which may not sound like much, until I tell you that what I’m really interested in are the pieces that can be added back on to make the Archimedean solids into a Platonic solids. I ‘don’t know how far I will get into this project, but it seems like, as I move through the list of the 13 Archimedean Solids that a great number of pieces will debut in the rooms of my house.

Polyhedrons in progress, on my armchair

This Archimedean Solids project has been a long time coming, as I pretty much have been mostly interested in trying to ignore them. I think I knew if I turned my attention towards them that I’d be hooked. I am

Those little edges that are sliced off are the part that I’m taking delight in. For some reason my interest in this part reminds me of something my dad once said to me: after many times of showing him the places I was traveling to he wondered, in the way that fathers do, why is it that I always seemed to be going to the inserts of the maps. Like, there would be North Carolina or West Virginia, or Texas, and we’d have to find that little box that shows the extra part of the state.

Polyhedrons on my desk, a cube (Platonic Solid) and a truncated cube (Archimedean Solid)

An example of what I mean about the parts that come off one solid to make another: above, those delineated corners come off to transform the cube into a truncated cube. Now, guess what shape those corners make if you pack them together. Are you thinking that they make another small cube? That’s what I thought, but I was wrong. Had to make them to believe it: they become an octahedron, which is a shape that’s like two square based pyramids stuck together.

Polyhedral Kindling

With all these Polyhedrons taking over, I try to be extra vigilant about not holding onto some constructions that have some sort of fatal flaw, even if that flaw could be hidden by turning it just so. It’s always sad to see one in with less royal scraps, but it’s better that it keeps me warm instead of possibly, one day, taking over my world.