How-to · Paper Toy

Paper Rods: Something from Almost Nothing

At this time of year I’m usually working in a summer programs, trying out new projects with kids without the time constraints of being in classrooms. The projects that kids connect to the most become part of what I do with my arts-in-ed sessions in the schools. Turns out that just because there’s no summer programs during this 2020 season, and there is not much chance I will have arts-in-ed work, that doesn’t mean I’ve stopped thinking about new projects. There are a few that I’m particularly eager to share, which is what this and some future posts will be about.

 

This exploration started with seeing a project posted by Chuck Stoffle in which Chuck made paper rods (he calls them paper supports) by rolling newspaper around a skewer and securing the roll with tape. I liked what he made so much that I had to try it out, but could I make them without using tape?

I started thinking about how, when glossy catalogs get wet, their pages stick together and thought that maybe this could be a tapeless way to make the rods.  Chuck’s method of using tape has the advantage of being able to use the rods immediately, whereas my tapeless method requires overnight drying time, but, hey, I’ve got time.

Here’s how it goes,

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Make a 1-1/2 inch fold on the long edge of a page, then fold that in half, and repeat two more times, then start rolling

 

I start with one of the catalogs that are always showing up in my mailbox, looking for one with glossy pages (uh, they all have glossy pages), but also is not too thin or too thick, and also is colorful on the edges.. Turns out that the Lands End catalog gave me the results I liked the best, which is fortunate as they show up at my house frequently.

Here’s the work flow:  take out the staples, cut each page in half along the center line, then fold up a 1-1/2″ flap on the one of the long edges. Next fold the flap in half, then fold that in half again, and finally fold that last flap in half a fourth time. This last fold is quite tiny. Then start rolling.

Here’s a video of how it looks:

After the paper is rolled up, give it a shower right under a water faucet.

Choosing pages thoughtfully results in rods that are quite lovely.


Now this is where I really miss having groups of kids to play with. What I would like to do is to just hand the rods over to kids and watch what they do with them.

Fortunately my friend Mark Kaercher is a person who is like a group of kids. After we talked about this over Zoom he made a bunch, and figured out that he could use sections of pipe cleaners as connectors.

I really like the way that the pipe cleaners worked to connect the rods!

One of the challenges I made for myself was to connect only three rods together, tripod-like, then see how many more I could add just using gravity.

Or what about building something over a tomato?

I, uh, think a group of kids would have done something more interesting than what I came up with using the tomato.

 

What about purely linear arrangements?

Or photographing a 3D structure a from above?

This photo is the aerial view of the second photo in this post. Oh, don’t scroll back, here it is again:

This structure has a few pipe cleaner attachments.

If there are no pipe cleaners in your life there’s lots of ways to improvise: I leave that to you.

Now all I need is a group of kids to play with….

 

Book Art · Box · Paper Toy

Four Squares, Each Folded like an 8-cut Pizza

Here’s something that can only be described as playful.

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It’s four squares, which have been folded into eights, like an 8-cut pizza. I made this as a sample book when I was teaching the Book Arts at Bancroft series of classes at the Bancroft Library here in Salem.  I would teach eight classes in the fall and eight more classes in the spring, to groups of 3rd and 4th graders. I did this for ten years. It was a really great program, funded by New York State Council on the Art Decentralization Program.  No one was in charge of me so I did whatever projects I felt like doing with these kids. This was when my own children were as young as they come, so this book arts program kept me thinking about the arts at time when I would have otherwise been thinking only about laundry, meals and bedtime.
img_20161205_161718.jpgThis way of folding squares and then just connecting them together is an idea I came across during a day that I passed at the Patents Office in NYC long ago, before the internet. I’d go up there now and then,  into this great cavernous room on the west side of Manhattan and just looked through cool stuff. I’m pretty sure that this way of folding was in a folding toy section, patented by a woman from Israel. There were some great drawings with the patent (which I copied and probably still have).

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When I did this with kids during my book arts workshop I was aware of one big obstacle: There are 64 distinct areas to decorate. Since the charm of this structure is finding all sorts of different configurations to display it in, it seemed to me that the patterns should be varied on each facet. But, 64? That’s a lot of designs. I had the kids for 90 minutes. Could they fill the papers? How could I facilitate this?

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We spent the first 25 minutes making the structure. 65 minutes left. 64 areas to fill.

img_20161205_161655.jpgWhat I did was prepare 64 notecards, each with a different design. The children sat in a big circle, each with a  marking tool. Each note card had a different design suggestion on it. Kids were not bound by my suggestions, but they would have only about a minute to decorate one of the triangular areas, then they would pass their marker and note card to the person to their left and receive a new suggestion and marker.img_20161205_161641.jpg

I’m usually not so regimented with my classes, timing things in short intervals and making commands, but this time it was great fun.

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So, got that? Four squares folded pizza-style and linked together and decorated. Then filled with designs.

Addendum April 1, 2020:

Here’s a link to the patent for this structure, invented by Iris Sarid from Jerusalem. http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-bool.html&r=13&f=G&l=50&co1=AND&d=PTXT&s1=3,962,816&OS=3,962,816&RS=3,962,816

Be sure to click on the image tab at the bottom of the patent link if you are still unclear about how this structure is constructed.

I’m happy to say I still have my paper copy of this patent, which I printed up at the NYC patent office about 30 years ago.

Paper Toy

Wat Meer Trekpoppen: More Jumping Jacks

Jumping Jumping Jack
Jumping Jack assembled out of Small Cut Shapes, glued together

Welkom!  A few week ago I noticed I was getting some verkeer vanuit Nederland – traffic from the Netherlands. While it’s not unusual for a far off web site to link to my blog, what has caught my attention, and what has prompted this post, is that, day after day, for several weeks now, I continue to get visitors coming to my site through a post by . Elenea wrote what looks to be the most comprehensive post on the web about Antique Jumping Jacks, trekpoppen or, in the singular, trekpop. ( What a great word!)

Jumping Jack, Trekpop, “built” from shapes of paper
Cut out shapes to use to make the Jumping Jack

If you saw my first post on Antique Jumping Jacks and my post on Jumping Jacks made by students in 2010 you ‘ve seen that I haven’t been using patterns for making Jumping Jacks.  I encourage students to cut out interesting shapes from paper, then assemble them together to make their own unique works of art.

Jumping Jack in shades of blue

I was delighted by how different the Jumping Jacks were from each other.

“Backstage” of a Jumping Jack

Here’s the back side of my Jumping Jack. Although I use heavy paper, I’ve decided that it’s wise to use support the neck with a flat wooden spoon. Also, I taped a paper loop to the head, to attach the string to hold Jack from the top. Oddly, I couldn’t convince any of the students in my workshop to extend a string from the head. They preferred to hold the puppet’s head.

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 awhile.so 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!”