I still have some holiday cards hanging around, giving me pleasure each time I see them. For instance, there’s this one from Judith. Looks like she got it at the Museum for Modern Art. It’s shiny and sparkly, many layered and changes with the light.
This one is from Ed, It’s like a little box, though it collapses flat. There’s two layers inside, This one also changes quite a bit with the light, which I love. I particularly like the little dog in the corner, and the way she’s bonding with the snowman. Or the bird? This card was designed, then cut and assembled by Ed’s own hands.
Another homemade card, from my friends Joan and Hank. Joan delights me every year with her drawings. She printed this on her home copy machine, then added embellishments by hand. Notice how my little bird statue it hoping to bond with the trumpet.
There’s nothing handmade about this card with the deer and snowman, but I like the expression and the gesture of the snowman so much that this card from my sister-in-law has stayed on display.
In December Susan Joy Share and I took a ride together from NYC to New Haven and visited the studio of the pop-up card company Up With Paper. We were mesmerized by just about everything about our time with them. They gifted us some cards, including this multilayered unicorn card which becomes even more magical when the spot that says PRESS is pressed: lights flicker on behind the unicorn. This is quite lovely. It sits on sort of dark shelf in my house, so the full effect of the lights is always a possibility. (Thank you, Monica!)
This cluster of gingerbread houses is also from Up With Paper. The pop-up in the middle is surprising to me, as I don’t generally think about making a house from center-aligned criss-cross. This criss-cross structure has tabs on it that extend to become the flanking gingerbread houses. Very beautiful, very elegant, very clever. I actually got a box of eight of these. I gave away a few. The first one I gave away was to Fabio, who ended up being our taxi driver for each of our stops during Susan’s and my day in New Haven. If you go to New Haven you must contact Ada’s Taxi service and ask for Fabio. You must.
The day after Susan and I were in New Haven, we spent the day in NYC, mostly at the Cooper Hewitt Museum. I bought this snowflake card in the museum shop. I love how the slits in the snowflake allow the snowflakes to rotate.
This strange-looking rectangle arrived in the mail. It’s all cut paper and tabs and slits. I don’t think there’s a drop of glue in this. It moves! When it moves, those odd little shapes line up!
I don’t really think it’s time to put this one away. Maybe I will put it away when we achieve world peace.
Then there’s this lovely image to maybe put away.
Us girls colored this Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. It sits in a corner near our couch.
This gives me such pleasure every time I see it that I don’t think I will be putting it away yet.
I’ve always loved coloring books. Is this true for every kid? I really don’t know. Are coloring books for kids even around much anymore?
When the coloring books for adults became all the rage a few years ago, it made perfect sense to me, although most of the titles on the market didn’t interest me much. I like sense an underlying rigorous structure, but one that is not simply symmetrical. Naturally, then, I fell in love with the books by Alex Bellos and Edmund Harris.
In the interest of full disclosure, I have not been asked to write this post by anyone connected to these books. In fact, the reason I am writing this now is because I am working on something else that won’t be ready to write about for awhile, so I thought that, with the holiday season upon us, the colorfulness of writing about these books seems timely.
I love these books for all the same reasons that I’ve always loved coloring books. They let me mess around with color without having to think too much about form. Just experimenting with color combinations without thinking about much else is a great thing for me to do when I’m wanting to make something but not feeling particularly ambitious. I think this cascading waves is my favorite of all the pages. If the authors happen to be reading this, please make more versions of this one for me, please.
I do not recommend using crayons in these books. The image above in started as crayon only, but it didn’t have a look that I liked until I added those crackly lines made with markers. Crayons are amazing when used on paper that is a bit rough, just like the newsprint paper in traditional coloring books, but seems to me that they aren’t well suited for the smooth papers of adult coloring books.
Colored pencils work well on these pages, but be advised that not all colored pencils are created equal. The best value for colored pencils are the Crayola brand, but Prismacolor Colored Pencils are just about the only upgrade that makes sense. If I’m using colored pencils on these pages, it’s Prismacolor that I’m using. However, If I am making drawings of my own, using my own designs, I generally use my absolute favorite colored pencils, made by Caran D’Ache.
Sometimes mixing up the Prismacolors with markers works out best. This page above, which references color bands used by Georgia O’Keefe in one of her paintings, was done with both Prismacolors and brush markers (an expensive Japanese brand, SAI).
I love the way Sharpies look on these pages. Yes, they bleed through like crazy, so I always put a protective piece under the page that I am working on. Otherwise, I don’t care that they bleed through the page. The publishers of these books were kind enough to keep the verso side of the spread mostly blank, so I don’t lose anything that I’m not willing to lose in the interest of using exactly the materials that I want to use.
My favorite pages, so far, are one that are not full of tiny, tiny details, like the one above, These tiny details require more attention than is comfortable for me.
This Kolakoski Sequence has just about the right balance for me of detail and broad areas of color. I’m generally more interested in the description of the form after I’ve colored it, but in this case it was already obscured by the bleed through from the previous image. Oh, well, I still have the internet.
Here’s another one done with both markers and pencils. I didn’t find this uncolored page very compelling, so I challenged myself to use color to make it more interesting to me.
I was pretty happy wit the way this one turned out.
The thing I like the most about these books is that I can pick them up and put them down with impunity. I don’t have to remember what I was thinking about or where to start. During the years of raising children and never having any extended amounts of time to work on anything, it still makes me feel happy to have something to do that doesn’t suffer from interruptions.
This spiral is the first one I did in these books. Took quite a few sitting before I considered to be finished, but that’s fine.
Here I got to play with trying to create a illusion that these circles were not in a precisely straight line. Sadly, in this photo that illusion seems to be mostly lost, but on the page they do look wiggly.
Not all drawings that I do come out great. Some come out well but don’t photograph well, like this one, which I love, but doesn’t seem to like the camera much. Sharpies love the camera.
Those funny shapes to the right of the page are called Sphericons. They are peculiar, funny, and I will making some to give away and some to hang on our tree. They are pesky to try to make out of paper, hence it will be many more days before they get a post of their own. But am happy to have finally made a post about my favorite coloring books.
OH, and if the editors or authors are taking requests, how about a coloring book along the same themes as these, made for kids and printed like old-fashioned coloring books, on newsprint, so that crayons would be the preferred medium? A mathy coloring book for kids, with large, not-particularly detailed patterns sounds like a great idea to me.
Next, directions for a six-sided snowflake. My big tip is to use paper napkins, as they already are the right shape: no extra prep needed! Also, paper napkins cut quite easily. They are perfect for snowflakes.
If you want to understand how the cuts of your snowflakes affect the final design, see below:
Festive Jumping Jacks are quite fun. I’ve made these with kids just a few times, as all the knot tying makes this an intense project for anything more than a small group, but so worth the effort!
For it’s birthday, I’ve made this nine-year old blog a pop-up card, inspired byArno Célérier, whose work I saw on David A. Carter’s facebook page. I generally don’t spend much time making pop-ups, but I do like cutting paper. Sometimes, while sitting having morning coffee with my husband, I cut silly little shapes from any paper that near me, just because I like the activity of cutting. Then I throw the shapes away.
Seeing Arno Célérier’s work has made me think about assembling these little paper doodles into pop-up cards.
The assemblages above is to celebrate nine years of blogging.
On this same date, in 2014, four years ago, I started engaging on twitter, so it’s a four-year old birthday for @paulakrieg. Here’s my birthday card to my twitter handle.
A sweet little close up detail:
I’m liking having been inspired to play in this way.