Book Art · Book Artists

Paul Johnson’s Outlier Pop-Ups

Detail of Paul Johnson Pop-up Book
Detail of a Paul Johnson Pop-up Book. Can you see what’s going on here at the edge of the book?

“A pop-up needs a fold:” this is what I say whenever I  begin showing a class how to make a pop-up. Ha! Turns out I was wrong!  Paul Johnson’s  show at the North Main Gallery in Salem N.Y. has authoritatively proven me to be completely mistaken. Throughout this generous celebration of structurally engineered books  there is not a fold, in or out of sight.


This is not a show of books with pages that turn to reveal a sequence of cleverly folded and glued structures that seem to magically jump off the page. Instead, in many cases, the books themselves begin as appearing rather flat, then they simply explode into space. And it’s not folds or glues that are responsible for these feats. It’s …

HInged Roof, Paul Johnson
Hinged Roof, Paul Johnson

hinges. Well bust my britches, I never thought about creating non-folded hinges for pop-ups  The roof piece above is joined together by making opposing slits in two separate pieces of paper. Johnson also makes good use of piano hinges -this link is a piano-hinge-tutorial by Wendy Southin- as well as dovetail joints, which I have to say I have never seen a bookbinder use in paper engineering.

PauL Johnson book, detail of attachments
Paul Johnson book, detail of attachments

It was not just a few books here, but rather a plethora of book structures and book sculptures, each one as unusual as inventive as any I’ve seen. Now I know I haven’t stepped back here and given you much of the big picture: that’s more than I can process for one post. The overall look of the show is stunning, as is each book in the show. But those photos will have to wait for a later post. It’s the details that I am so intrigued with today.

Cinderella's-tricycle, Paul Johnson
Cinderella’s-tricycle, Paul Johnson

This show, it’s quite a ride. Up until October 4.

Books written by Pual Johnson
Books written by Paul Johnson

Oh, and if you are an educator and you are wondering if this is the same Paul Johnson who writes prolific amounts about Literacy and Book Arts, yes, this is him.

How-to · Paper Toy · puppet

Silly Easy Fast Paper Puppets

crayon puppet in progress
Puppet in Progress

I recently taught a workshop in which I was given a good bit of latitude in what I presented. I decided that I would bring a selection of my some of my personal favorite structures, and give people choices of what to make. It was one of the most fun afternoons I’ve had.  This sweet little puppet is another one of those structures that I have forever been wanting to write about, and it was one of the hits of the workshop. It truly takes about one minute to construct. Here’s the tutorial page for it:

Silly Easy Fast Puppet tutorial by Paula Beardell Krieg
Silly Easy Fast Puppet tutorial by Paula Beardell Krieg

The beauty of this structure is that it can be made out of just about any size and proportion of paper. I generally use regular size copy paper, but anything works. It might be hard to tell from these photos, but the mouth of the puppet articulates, and opens in a wide and humorous. way. The workshop participants decorated their creations with all sorts of bits of this and that .

Two Silly Puppets

The next photo is a of a puppet that looks it might have much to say. I find myself wishing that there were words on the paper that is cascading out of the mouth.

too much to say


And here are a couple more of my own puppets. I will be teaching  this again at a workshop in the fall, in Waverly, Pennsylvania, so I am going to try to put together a little tribe of these funny faces.

crayon and cut paper decorations on the puppets
crayon and cut paper decorations on the puppets

Again, the magic of these is the when the mouth open and closes. It’s such a surprise to be able to put together such a whimsical creature so quickly.  If you try this out, please email me a photo!


Valentines, Crayoned

I like sending out Valentines. This year I wanted use crayons to draw out hearts.

When I was thinking about how I wanted to make my valentines I knew that what I wanted to do was to do something by hand, and to make something to share that I thought was beautiful and fun. I like crayon drawings, especially my own crayon drawings. I have been drawing hearts and coloring them in all day long today.

I didn’t anticipate that it would take so long to draw the cards. But each card seemed to take longer than the one before, as I happily laid down color after color. Hot magenta and cerulean are the colors that got the most play.

Valentines in progress
Valentines in progress

Each Valentine card is postcard size, 3 1/2′ x 5 1/2″. I drew them on a large sheet of paper so that I could draw all the way to the edges, which always looks better to me. Also, I liked that bits of each drawing shared some overflow colors with each card that it was surrounded by.

Sheets of Valentines
Valentines Sheet.waiting to be cut apart

They are all done now…I have 1 hour and 10 minutes before it is officially Valentines Day. Which means that my Aunt Angela, my mother, everyone else who is far away, will be getting their cards late.

Valentine point

Late or not….

A Valentine for You from Paula Krieg
A Valentine for You

…here’s wishing you a Happy Valentine’s Day!!!


Brooklyn Bound

Sketchbook Project Envelope

It’s January 31, the deadline for sending in a sketchbook to The Sketchbook Project 2012. My next stop is the post office.

sketchbook page

When I first read about The Sketchbook Project it was almost too late to request to be part of it.  This is how it worked: I signed up, sent them money, and they collect, scan, catalogue and show thousands and thousands of sketchbooks done by artists all over the world.  I love this concept, and the way it has been implemented.

I draw nearly every day, so there was no question in my mind that this is something that I should be part of. The  sketchbook they provided is modest in size: 7″ x 5 ” containing 8 folded papers to created 32 drawing pages. At first I thought it was a bit too small, but I grew to appreciate its diminutive size as it was easy to fill, and not too precious to send off.

The cover of the book  is a simple folded piece of book board: thin, folded, and stapled.  Of course I had to mess with the binding….

…but I messed with it only a little. Cut out a window, replaced the staples with sewing.  In fact I like the look of the board. I thought of drawing on the cover but chose not to.

I filled most of the pages with sketches.  I worked in it the same way that I work in my own sketchbooks: I find something that’s challenging to draw, then I draw it repeatedly until I feel like I better understand the visual language of the object.  I also wrote on a few of the pages.   At first my thoughts were trying to push through, so I let them. But that didn’t last long.

This is what I most liked about getting involved with this sketchbook initiative: they sent me emails reminding me to sketch. OMG, no one has ever done that for me before. I get emails reminding me to pay bills, show up for meetings, to take political actions etc etc, but no one sends me emails encouraging me to sketch. I love being reminded to draw, irregardless of whether or not I need the nudging.

Dedicated to Jose Gaytan
Dedicated to Jose Francisco Gaytan

Since this book is being sent off to Williamsburg Brooklyn, just a few blocks away from where I lived for many years, and right in the area where my friend Jose Gaytan took thousands of photos during the 1980’s and 90’s, I decided to dedicate my book to him before I sent it off into the world.

And off it goes………..