Thursday, 7 February 2013

Book Review: Playing With Paper, by Helen Hiebert

Playing With Paper

Illuminating, Engineering, and Reimagining

Paper Art

By Helen Hiebert

Quarry Books

£16.99 Paperback

ISBN  978159253140

The sign of a good craft book is when you come across an idea or a project that you just can’t wait to try out. Moments like that come thick and fast in Helen Hiebert’s new book, Playing With Paper. As the subtitle suggests, many light bulb moments are contained within its (quality paperback) covers. For example, I was fascinated by the section on Hedi Kyle’s One -Sheet Books – a mini-course on pamphlet-folding. Helen’s projects using hinged and cut-out envelopes are very inventive, as is her magnetic ring with interchangeable 3-D toppers.

This book is a refreshing mix of the practical and the inspirational. It is infused with a sense of fun and wonder. Although this is a book of artisan papercrafts, there is plenty here for the papercraft hobbyist.  All the projects are do-able – nothing a newbie couldn’t accomplish. Yet, there is plenty to engage and inspire the more-experienced papercrafter. Paul Johnson’s Interlocking Pop-Up Castle (template included at the back of the book) is a colourful, non-intimidating introduction to slice-forms – a papercraft technique that I had previously regarded as purely geek territory.

All the projects in the book are handmade, and none of them require more than pretty basic tools and equipment – and paper, of course.

This collaborative book surveys a variety of papercrafting techniques, provides an accessible bunch of projects, and provides inspiration in a gallery section which presents the work of world-class paper artists. The format works. In the gallery section, featured artists include Ingrid Siliakus, who produces astonishing origamic architecture cityscapes; Vincent Floderer, whose crumpled paper sculptures look like Fortuny pleating;  and Paul Jackson, whose pleated paper vessels  look as if they are made from pottery or carved from wood.

In the Acknowledgments, the author credits the “wonderful sense of sharing that exists within the paper community...”, and the contributors to the book must surely have donated some of their best ideas.

Helen Hiebert is a paper artist with an international reputation. She makes her own handmade paper and constructs installations, lamps and art books which alter the viewer’s perceptions of time, space and form. She has a fabulous blog which you can visit at

Note: I was provided with a review copy of this title.