How-to · moving parts

A Nod to Making Pop-Ups

How to make 2 basic Pop-ups

Since I have devoted my last few posts to pop-ups,  I’ve decided to put together a brief introduction to this magical bit of paper engineering.  There are many fabulous in-depth resources to making pop-ups: this post is not one of those. Instead, I offer here a couple of introductory type of handouts.

For in-depth looks at pop-ups visit

I’ve dug into my archives and pulled out the reference page below that I created at a time long ago.

A Pop-Ups reference page

For a look at pages of pop-ups done by elementary age students, take a look at my last three posts

moving parts

BASIS: Pop-Ups at the end of the Summer

I’ve been pouring over these photos that I have taken of work done at a Book Arts Summer In Salem workshop, as well as pages from a very special book that created by students during this past winter while working at North Main Gallery in Salem, NY alongside Ruth Sauer and Ed Hutchins.

One thing I keep coming back to is how the dynamic energy of the students is so well aligned with dynamic paper structures.

There is something about putting a big pile of colored markers on the table, along with paper and instructions on how to make pop-ups that, well, just go together.

One thing that I have really noticed, and have been inspired by, about the pop-ups made by Salem youth (besides the bold colors, the whimsy and the energy of the drawings) is how well these young people grasp the concept of using multiple elements in the composition on their pages. For instance, in the page above, there are animals on three different levels.  Also, I am particularly enchanted by how the hats are layered and slightly intertwined and how they echo the tents of the landscape.

This boat is perched on a waterfall. The waterfall pops-up out from the page by being a basic box pop-up. But there’s more!
As the page opens the boat seems to  be teetering on the edge.

The Hidden V-Pop-up: Behind the Scenes of Going over the Waterfall

The secret behind the boat’s movement is the V-fold that the boat is attached to from behind , creating a diagonal movement when the page opens, so the predicament that this boat finds itself in seems tangibly real.

Slider behind a Box Pop-UP: Girls coming out of the Woods

Another way these students used the box pop-up dynamically is by making sliders that come out from behind the box.

It looks to me like the young artist here drew a tree or two on a separate piece of paper, created a landscape with a box pop-up, then cut out the trees that were drawn separately and, finally, added one to the box, the other to a slider element.

I so much admire the composition of these pages. It looks like there’s two pop-up boxes on this page,but what really makes this page striking to me is that the turtle (who had been upright and standing out on previous pages) is now upside down with just her little feet sticking up….and her crown floating away. The upside heroine with the splashes of red around her creates a bold and dynamic image.

I’ve put together an instructional hand-out for the two basic pop-ups, just in case you are now suffering from a touch of inspiration.
I’ll have this instructional sheet out in a day or two.

Making Books with children · Making books with elementary students · moving parts

Pop-Ups In Salem

Fish Pop-up

I seem to have meandered away between this post and the last one.  At first I blamed it on the fact that my internet was down, then family things arose, then came the fury and aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene. But, in fact, I think that it is the young artists’ work that I am writing about that elicited a response in me that needed some time to ripen.

The waters brought by Tropical Storm Irene

Sometimes a response rises unexpectedly and I have to just wait for the calm to come before  I can see what’s there.  This particular moment of transition accompanied the pop-up workshop and exhibition at my local library (which, thankfully, was untouched by Irene). 

Display of Pop-ups made by Salem Youth
Unlike my usual relationship to the student work that I see, I had virtually no involvement in the works that were created by the young people who were teaching and displaying their work in our local community. I had the luxury, then, of observing the flow of their work, which reminded me of how profoundly significant it is to support arenas where people can be creative.
This library exhibition and workshop came about because of group of dedicated elementary students decided that they would show up at Salem’s North Main Gallery week after week and work on moveable book arts projects, with gentle nudging by book artist Ed Hutchins.
Scout's Red Pop-up Birds
Red Birds and Scout
Sometimes I would stop in at the gallery and see these students working. Sometimes they would be deeply focussed, and sometimes, I was told, they would be singing together. But always, their hands and minds were busy, making decisions, adding color, creating little universes with paper, scissors and markers.
The Book of Fleeb’s Lunch

These past few weeks I haven’t written a  post, drawn a picture, or sewn a book. This makes me feel like a tree without leaves. While it’s  okay, even good, for a tree to have no leaves for a while, too much of that is no good. I’m reminded that providing the space and the skills that allow children to make decisions, to acquire new skills, and to work together is like helping them grow parts of themselves which help to define themselves and enhance the world around them.


Here’s one of the student/instructors at the workshop. More photos to come
Artful Recycling · moving parts

Antique Jumping Jack Toys, made by students

This past Friday I had the good luck of being able to work with students to test drive my instructions for making cut-paper Antique Jumping Jacks. The students were young, only in grades First through Fourth, but they were a surprisingly competent group.. Some of these childrens live nearby in Vermont, the others are from New York City, Massachusetts, and New Jersey.

After seeing the my sample Jumping Jack, the students, knowing we had just under 2 1/2 hours to work, asked me how long it took me to make mine. I told them that I worked on mine for several hours,but that it would become boring to work on after kept I kept putting it aside and coming back to it later. It’s not good to be bored while working, so I told them I was structuring the class in a way that would keep things moving.

We started by cutting and gluing together simple shapes for the head and torso, using scraps of cover weight copy paper.

I told them we would work on the torso for only 25 minutes. If it wasn’t finished by then, we would still move on to the limbs, but they could come back to the torso later.
Before any ennui set in, I brought out some paper punches (of snowflakes. cirlces, stars and hearts) which kept things exciting.

These kids seemed to have no problem keeping focused on their creations.

As soon as the limbs started getting attached, the work pace picked up.

Here’s a line-up of Jumping Jacks at rest….

…and here they are again, jumping.

“Wave good-bye, Jack!”