Thoughts

Change of Season

This past season of teaching has been extraordinary. Working with adults over zoom has been every bit as exciting for me as working with young students in person. I’m so fortunate to have had these opportunities of facilitating projects with so many creative and receptive people.

Here is some of the work made by Karen Quigley over these past six months. Karen not only joined Susan Share and me for Zhen Xian Bao & Beyond, but she also was in my 5-week Paper Unbound class, my 12 weeks of Accordion 101, and even did the Weave through Winter month with Helen Hiebert. It’s particularly interesting to work with people who have acquired many skills as they bring
their own ways of working to whatever they do next.

Generally, teaching ends for me in June. This year it’s a bit earlier, but I started a bit earlier too, with the 12 weeks of Accordion101 classes starting in November, overlapping with Paper Unbound classes then going into Zhen Xian Bao and Beyond, which I co-taught with Susan Share. It has been six months of teaching and designing and co-designing projects, all in this unfamiliar Zoom format, trying to do my best while so much was changing. Every week, for months, what was happening with the teaching felt new.

Here’s what’s behind my zoom desk, which is just barely representative of all the paper play that has been happening in this room.

Even though figuring out so many new work flows and methods is exciting, it’s also challenging.

An art-in-Ed project, interrupted by the March 2020 lockdown. This was to be a book report in flexagon format, with attention to symmetry, fonts, and title design.

The arts-in-ed work I’ve done in schools, also gave me opportunities to try out new ideas, as many of the teachers I collaborated with trusted my judgement. I could evolve the work according to what I determined would support the classroom objectives while still exploring ideas that piqued my interest. The way I would teach the structures and content that we’d do year after year would change a little here and there, improving in response to what I’d observe in the classroom. Mostly, unlike in this new Zoom world, things changed incrementally. Each school year up with me feeling jazzed up about the work that had been created and what I had learned from the kids, from the teachers, and from the work the kids made. Still, at the end of the season I would seriously be ready to turn inward, ready to be without an outside structure.

Looking closely and enjoying geometric constructions, Paula Krieg

Now, at the end of this Zoom season, even as I am still thinking about and looking at the exquisite work that I’ve seen done over the past six months, I’m getting excited about letting go of a schedule and just tinkering with the ideas in my head.

To be continued…

folding

The Two Mouth Masu

The Two Mouth Masu

As Susan Share and I are nearing the end of the 12-week CBA Zhen Xian Bao and Beyond class that we are teaching together, the people in our class have acquired so many skills that we now want them to get the hang of playing around with what they know.

This week’s class was such fun for us. Susan and I prepared projects to teach that required that people already know specific folding methods which we then morphed into something else. What was so much fun for Susan and me was that we could just say, “ok, now fold this kind of structure to this point and then we’ll do something unexpected.” In any other setting we’d probably spend 40 minutes or so just getting through the first part of the instruction, but, no, instead, we could just sit back for a couple of minutes while the people in the class simply did what they know how to do.

A Selection of Models of the Two Mouth Masu. Hopefully you can imagine that these close down flat. If not, watch the video below.

The point of this week’s session wasn’t really to make what we were showing. In fact, Susan and I showed things that we’d never shown to groups before because we basically came up with the projects just this week. What we were trying to convey was that, with all these skills that people in our class acquired (along with ones they already have) that they can ask new questions of the folds that they already know how to do.

Aerial View of the Two Mouth Masu

My favorite moments this week were when we would show something that we know could be challenging, and everyone would just get it.

A number of questions were asked about the last structure that was taught this week, specifically, did it have a name and where could they find directions for it? The only directions for it in existence are the ones given in class, and there was no name for the structure. I am changing both of the facts today.

My Two Mouth Masu thank you note to Susan

From today forward this structure is the Two Mouth Masu. All of the photos in this post are this one structure. It begins like a masu box, which is a square origami box, but closes and opens in an entirely different way. It’s like it has two pop-up mouths. I’ve decided to make a video of how to make it because I’m afraid I will forget how to do it, or how to best teach it. So go grap a lightweight foldable piece of paper and enjoy a peek into one of the things we did during Session 10 of Zhen Xian Bao and Beyond.

The video:

Zhen Xian Bao · Zoom Workshop

Notes from Beyond

Getting loose with folds, using notebook paper

Susan Share and I are entering week 9 of our 12 weeks of the Zhen Xian Bao and Beyond classes that we are teaching through the Center for Book Arts. It’s pretty extraordinary to watch people develop over the weeks.

Playing around with patterns, parts and attachments

Susan and I have begun most classes by spending a bit of time showing a selection of historical Zhen Xian Baos. The people in our classes seem to have fully embraced the idea that Cathryn Miller expressed so well in the comment section of her first post about the Zhen Xian Bao, which is “there are almost as many variations as there are books!” After our students learn the basics parts of the structure during instructional time, they learn how to size the components to work together, then they experiment with their own creations. What people make retains the conceptual armature of the traditional thread books but are still decidedly unique . We specifically teach how to be flexible and innovate with the elements of the Zhen Xian Bao, which is why the word “beyond” is part of the title for this class.

Zhen Xian Bao with Beads

I have to say that co-teaching this class with Susan Share has been just brilliant. Some days I learn as much as any other person in the class. Even though we worked together many times before, we have our own styles of doing things, and noticing things. Susan sees and works out details that raise the bar in everything we do. She is also like royalty when it comes to thinking about closures. For instance, in the Zhen Xian Bao variation above, she just naturally suggested using the cord from the sewn pamphlet to extend around the folder to hold it closed (see below, left). She is also giving us some insights into Nag Hammadi closures, magnetic closures, crocheted closures, and there’s more to come.

There are so many avenues of inspiration to follow as I take cues from people in the class. For instance, a woman who I will refer to as Sarah B pointed Susan and me to a video of an historical structure, from Yunnan, SW China, which Susan and I went absolutely gaga over. We call it the Sarah B ZXB. After watching the video about 30 times, both Susan and I made our own copies of the structure, and now some of people in our classes are making their own models too.

I have taken to making most of my new pieces in miniature.

Here’s an unadorned model of Sarah B’s ZXB which is only about 4 inches high. What I love so much about it, besides everything, is how accordions are paired with standard Zhen Xian Bao boxes, and how the accordion fold-ins can open up to make a new box.

Here’s another structure I made that shows the influence of Susan, who has gotten me to print designs on my papers from various sources. Also, Jo, a person in the class, has gotten me to think about embellishments in a different way, and another student, Rosemary, who considered using a pocketed side of some folds to add little pamphlets, inspired me to use those hidden pockets for my own little pamphlets.

Zhen Xian Bao with hidden pamphlets

One of the challenges of doing zoom classes is creating a space where people can inspire each other. When we are learning, there is no reason to have all the learning be top down, from instructor to participants, which is especially true when the rest of the people in the zoom are interesting and talented people. Even though class time is for teaching, we inspire and influence each other by posting examples of work on the class page for all to see. Susan and I have also facilitated a “playdate” page where people can post zoom links for times outside of class to gather, fold and talk. It’s simply outrageously wonderful to see people gather outside of class to further develop their work.

Only a few more weeks left to this class. Can’t believe the time is going so fast.

Here are a couple of Instagram treasures, posted by a couple of people in the class. Enjoy!

How-to · simple book binding

T -Cut Origami Booklet

T-Cut Origami Booklet, Paula Krieg

This folded booklet, which is a variation of the 8 page origami pamphlet, has characteristics that I’ve been appreciating lately.

What I’m liking about it is that the first and last pages are free from folds on their far edges. This gives the structure two advantages over the 8-page origami pamphlet that I like so much. The fist advantage is the book can be spread out better for display. The second advantage that I am thinking about today is that it can work nicely in a pamphlet which is set up to have replaceable pages.

Simple Pamphlet
Pamphlet/Booklet Cover

Here’s what I’m thinking about: I have this sweet little pamphlet with a pocketed cover, beads sewn on the spine, made with unique bits of paper from my stash. If I sew pages into the pamphlet, once the pages are filled with my lists, scribbles, notes to self, I will be sad to see this item become useless. But what if I can easily replace the pages?

Booklet with sewn in belt
Booklet with sewn in belt

With the end-use in mind, instead of sewing in pages, I sewed in this narrow belt…I suppose it could have been the height of the cover, but this narrow piece was left-over from another project, and I wanted to use it.

HIdden Magnets
HIdden Magnets

I scavenged some magnets strips from an outdated business card on my fridge, and glued them on to the belt, front and back, When I sandwich the ends of my t-cut origami pamphlet between the magnets the pages stay nicely in place.

Here’s a little video clip showing the pages being replaced:

And here’s what the paper looks like when it’s unfolded, which you can also see at the top of the tutorial page on the top of this post.

T-Cut origami booklet,  fully unfolded
T-Cut origami booklet, fully unfolded

These kinds of simple solutions are so satisfying.