Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Pyramid Surprise Boxes

These little gift boxes make excellent grab-bag gift packaging, or are suitable as tabletop party favours. Add a hanging loop at the apex and you could even use them as tree ornaments. There's a box-within-the-box, so you can put a small gift in the bottom container and pop a choc on top for a double surprise.

Scandi Ski Sweater prints are big this season, so I went with that. The tags are optional. And, of course, either the pyramid or the mini-box can be used on its own.

Here are your free printables:




The boxes are really quick and easy to make. Cut out the boxes, score the folds. Fold the folds - make the creases sharp! The "wings" on each triangle are folded to the inside of the box. Assemble the mini-box - just glue or d/s tape the adjacent tabs. To close the mini box, fold down one top flap at a time, tucking the last one in. The rounded corner of each flap goes on top. Pop the (filled) mini-box onto the base of the pyramid - no need to stick it down. To close the triangle, thread a tapestry needle with a length of Baker's Twine, pass it through the holes at the apex of the triangles. Draw the twine up, tie a bow. The gift tag is optional.

Enjoy making these festive gift boxes.


TM: 29 The Untold Story Behind 29 Classic Logos - Book Review Link

Here's a link to a book review that I've contributed as a guest blogger on the very lovely Make it in Design Blog.

This very accessible graphic design title spotlights 29 iconic logos (biggies like Coca Cola, Penguin Books) - and tells you the inspirational stories about how they came to be. Lots of eureka moments, and of course, plenty of beautiful pics.

TM is written by Mark Sinclair, and is published by Laurence King Publishing. Here's the Amazon link (where you can look inside the book).

Friday, 21 November 2014

Snowflake Interactive New Year Cards

These volvelle interactive cards are shaped like paddle fans to make
them easy to manipulate. Hold the fan handle in one hand, slide the tab with the other: Hey presto!... dissolving snowflake pic. Different styles of filigree snowflakes - whoosh!

The volvelle mechanism works via a slotted base layer and a rotating disc. I've been keen to try making one ever since reviewing Helen Hiebert's book Playing with Pop-Ups. There are also volvelles in Jean-Charles Trebbi's The Art of Pop-Up and in Making Mechanical Cards, by Sheila Sturrock (all of which are excellent papercraft refs). 
My design is a hybrid of mechanisms, with the added paper fan base. And yes, it is just a little bit tricky to make, but like most things, easier when you know how. You've got to put the rotating disc behind the paddle fan. The disc segments are brought to the front, and the jaggedy front segments are brought to the back. It is all held together with an indispensible centre brad, with brad mats front and back.

The how-tos are printed on the download files. If cutting out by hand, follow the outlines to cut out the six segments on the fan and the dial (disc). The cut-outs on the paddle fan are jaggedy-lines and the are cut-outs on the dial are flag-shaped. I have added a reinforcement to place behind the bottom edge of the dial and behind the fan handle because they get the most wear and tear.

Here are your free printables:



Depending on where you live in the world, a fan may be the last thing you need on New Year's Day. But wherever you live, an entertaining New Year greeting is tops!

Sunday, 16 November 2014

The Art of Pop-Up, by Jean-Charles Trebbi. Review.

The Art of Pop-Up

The Magical World of Three-Dimensional Books

By Jean-Charles Trebbi

Promopress 2012, reprint 2014

Amazon link

ISBN 978-84-92810-65-9

Star rating: *****

The author of The Art of Pop-Up, Jean-Charles Trebbi, says that there are only about 100 paper engineers in the world. Well, those guys are my papercraft heroes, and M. Trebbi’s book is papercraft geek bliss.

This awesome title is a lovingly-curated pictorial history and appreciation of the pop-up book, its masterminds and creators. That description sells this wondrous title short, because although the main focus is on the movable book,  just about every imaginable type of paper engineering mechanism and curiosity is featured,  going way beyond the book:  sliceforms, action origami, origamic architecture, flip books, tunnel books, carousel books, mix and match, and much more. The mind boggles! The author says that the book is not exhaustive, but it certainly packs an amazing amount of info about interactive papercrafting within its covers.

The book is, appropriately, bookended with two superb paper-engineered features. Up front is a pull-out double-sided paper engineering Timeline Fold-Out. Back-of-book there’s a Techniques Guide featuring pop-up book mechanisms and bindings. So as not to disappoint, both are fancy-folded. These excellent resources amount to crib sheets for aspiring paper engineers.

The book begins with an introduction to movable books, followed by a concise (but still lavishly-illustrated) history. There are plenty of fascinating historical details. To whet your appetite (without providing too many spoilers):  instructional movable books, featuring volvelles, rotating wheels which revealed info, were used by Renaissance scholars. Pop-up books for entertainment and for children were introduced in the 18th century. And, of course, the Industrial Revolution (and less expensive paper) in the 19th century brought with it a golden age of paper-engineered book innovation.  

Next up is the Techniques section, featuring a spotlight on paper engineering pioneers – those who masterminded the concepts, then moving on to specific  pop-up variations and their makers. When a mechanism is shown, there are often accompanying  diagrams for your edification and enlightenment, a very handy feature. Example: the birds-eye view of the carousel book.

There is a spotlight on Paper Engineers: designer profiles. Here are the big names: Robert Sabuda, Jennie Maizels (creator of the amazing Pop-Up London), and many more. Meet the makers, view their works, see what makes them tick (or snip, as the case may be...).  Great stuff.

The  Beyond Pop-Up section is about “thinking outside the book”, you might say. This part explores the frontiers of pop-up, such as bigging up the concept for theatrical sets and home furnishings. There’s a look-in on digital developments (this is not in the book, but currently topical - Rob Ryan has a new interactive digital iBook).There are also related ideas, such as incorporating smell and/or textures (me: Pat the Bunny).  The sub-section on book Restoration is commendable. This is a topic rarely discussed in paper pop-up how-to books, yet, paper being what is – relatively fragile and ephemeral – is of prime importance. Valuable tips are included on how to craft archival-quality projects, and also on how to repair and clean mechanisms.

Last of all: Models: photocopiable projects you can try. Fun, challenging stuff, as you would expect. There’s origamic architecture, a one-piece tunnel book, a volvelle disc, a cat-themed sliceform, and a Lotus pop-up. All are contributed by experts in their niche areas. You will learn by doing.

This is a large-format book with quality production values.

The author, Jean-Charles Trebbi, an architect and designer himself, says that the intent of his book “was to pay tribute and give a voice to” a  little-known  profession, paper engineers,”whose craft combines the technical expertise of cutting and folding with producing ingenious creations.”  He has achieved his aim. This book is an inspirational mother lode. It examines the past and imagines the (sometimes digital) future of paper engineering.

This is a book to dip into time and again – a go-to resource and inspiration for everyone who loves 3-D interactive papercrafting.

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

Saturday, 15 November 2014

A Year in Crafts, by Clare Youngs. A "cookbook" of craft-y "recipes". Review.

A Year in Crafts

52 seasonal projects to make and give

By Clare Youngs

Cico Books

Hardcover (spiral-bound) £14.99 UK, £ 24.95 US, $ 29.95 CAN

ISBN 978-1-78249-141-5

Star rating: ****

Popular author Clare Youngs is living the dream – for the past several years she had been crafting full-time, prolifically producing a stream of excellent project books.  Clare Youngs is a craft all-rounder, and  excels at papercrafts, embroidery, home sewing, and more. Her new book, A Year in Crafts, is a cookbook of crafty ideas to take you through the seasons – a fair share of papercrafts included.

The cookbook analogy is intentional. This book was designed to resemble a cookbook in appearance and purpose. The book is spiral- bound, with divider pockets (to stuff with notes) and a stretchy elastic band to hold it shut (presumably when bursting with ideas). You dip into it to find a seasonable craft project “recipe”, perhaps one that you want to tweak just  a little to make your own. 

The 52 projects convey Clare Young’s hands-on approach to crafting. She has taken thrifting to heart, and there are lots of projects fashioned  from recycled materials. Many projects are ideal for time-poor crafters, although there are few that require a bigger investment of time. 

Most of the makes fall into the home decor category – these are the sort of inviting objects that transform a house into a home. Cosy, smile-inducing stuff, identifiable as “loving hands at home”-made -  but in a very good way. Some of the projects are holiday-specific, like the delightful (and almost-instant)  papercraft Easter Egg Cessories (hats and fascinators for egg-cup occupants).

There are papercrafts, embroidery, sewing, and just a bit of D-I-Y lite. Papercraft  favourites include the Silverleaf Pinecones, and the charming Little Clog Advent Calendar – doily-decorated kraft paper  wooden shoe-shaped pockets hung as a bunting. The Festive Swans are a 3-D papercraft display, simply papercut. A delightful textile craft is the Rag Rug Circle, braided strips of recycled fabrics, with decorative loops cleverly incorporated into the design. Another winner is Dad’s Shoe Bag, embellished with a natty pair of embroidered brogues. A useful project is the Pinboard House, made out of cork-covered  foamcore board.  

So, to sum up – the cookbook concept works a treat, and the “recipes” are of consistently good quality. Highly giftable.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Holiday Makes 2014: Free Print-and-Cuts

I've been posting this year's batch of co-ordinated printable holiday makes since July, so it's time for a review. There's something for everyone in this batch of festive makes: gift packaging, ornaments, greeting card display. And, of course, lots of Milk Cartons.

Below, the links to my original blogposts:










Happy crafting. Enjoy making crafts to give.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Bigger, Two-Tone Milk Cartons

Big guys and little ones shown.

I've already given you Mini Milk Carton Gift Boxes, which have a one-piece template. Today, I'm goint to mutiply your options. Sometimes, you need a bigger Milk Carton Gift Box. To fit the pattern template onto an A4 page, the milk carton must be divided into panels.
Each Milk Carton Gift Box consists of four different panels: front, back, right, left. A bonus: you can mix and match the printed panels to make a two-tone Milk Carton Gift Box. 

Here are your free printables:

Making the Milk Cartons is pretty easy. Cut out the pieces, score the folds, crease the folds. The main thing to remember is to alternate the panels when you join the sides: side-front-side-back.

If you seal the top flap, you can still fill the carton with its contents through the "trap door" on the bottom.

The finishing touch: punch two holes on the top flap, thread through a baker's twine bow. 

Happy gifting!

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Milk Carton "BonBon" Gift Boxes

My Milk Carton binge continues. Today I have some fun lozenge-shaped gift boxes. I created the pattern template by placing two Milk Carton tops base-to-base. It's the apex-top of the milk carton that gives it its distinctive shape - and these cute mini-boxes have a double-dose.

The boxes are just about the right size for sweeties or trinkets.

Here are your free printables:


As you can see, I've given you a choice of gift tags.

Making the BonBons is pretty straightforward - just remember to score all the fold lines and crease them sharply. Don't forget the lengthwise fold across the BonBon centre. Take special care at the apex folds on the sides.

The BonBons would make good containers for small grab-bag gifts.

Monday, 10 November 2014

Curlicue Kinetic Origami: re-visit

Oops. When I ran my round-up of origami books yesterday, I missed out this genius title, by Assia Brill. (It is one of my favourite recent origami books.) As the title says, the author has developed an interactive type of origami: fold and twist. It's a fascinating technique.

Here's the link back to the review:

Curlicue Kinetic Origami, by Assia Brill

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Origami Bookshelf: Round-up

Origami assortment.
All Flowers.
World Origami Days conclude on 11 November (the origami crane being a peace symbol). Today I am featuring a round-up of the origami titles that I've recently spotlighted on the blog.

Click on the link to check out the review (going round the pics, clockwise from top left):

An assortment of origami titles:
Travel Origami, by Cindy Ng

The Origami Home, by Mark Bolitho

Origami 365, by Taro Naguchi and Masao Donohue 

Notes on the History of Origami, by John Smith 

Origami Papercrafting, by Suzanne McNeill 

Origami flowers:

Origami Ikebana, by Benjamin John Coleman 

Beautiful Origami Flowers, by Anca Oprea 

Floragami, by Armin Taübner 

LaFosse & Alexander's Origami Flowers 

Happy book-browsing. And happy folding!

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Origami Ikebana, by Benjamin John Coleman. Review.

World Origami Days continue until November 11, and so do my origami book reviews...

Origami Ikebana
Create Lifelike Flower Arrangements

Benjamin John Coleman

Tuttle Publishing 2014

Paperback + DVD, £15.95

Link to Amazon: Origami Ikebana

ISBN 978 4 8053 1242 1

Star rating: *****
More paper flowers!:

Benjamin John Coleman is an origami innovator. In Origami Ikebana, he presents an entire system for making realistic-looking flower arrangements (ikebana is the Japanese art of flower arranging, characterized by elegant minimalistic designs). The papers for all the arrangement components – blossoms, leaves, stems, base – are painted and shaped to create a more naturalistic result than standard origami flowers. (My guess is that painting the paper makes it more pliable, capable of being moulded into graceful curves.) 

The book teaches you how to fashion all the arrangement components from start to finish:  the leaves, blossoms, stems, even the base. You are taught how to craft bark-like makigami  stems, and how to assemble the pieces into a cohesive whole – an elegant ikebana arrangement. 
The makigami stems are rolled from newspaper triangles. Adjusting the shape of the triangular template alters the taper of the stem – a similar method to making paper beads. The rock bases are crafted using a papier-mâché-like technique (I have to say, they have me thinking of school science fair volcanoes).

The book features designs for 8 different leaves and 30 different flower shapes. The folding how-tos are presented using a patented origami instructional method called “Glow Fold”, in which the folding diagrams are colour-coded to indicate sequence.

The accompanying DVD reinforces the on-page instructions. The “Glow-Fold” diagrams, plus directional arrows, are superimposed on the “folding moves”­ video –  this makes learning the technique just about foolproof.

I am absolutely bowled over by John Coleman’s development and presentation of the Origami Ikebana concept. The resultant arrangements are elegant and graceful. (Very occasionally, I think the results look over-manipulated. To my personal taste, it is the spontaneity of origami that appeals.) These floral models, exquisite creations, are labour-instensive projects. If crafting an everlasting floral display is your goal, Origami Ikebana may be right up your alley. 

So – a beautifully-conceived system, clearly and professionally presented (the author has teaching credentials). If you are looking for a more sculptural approach to origami flowers, Benjamin John Coleman’s origami/papier-mâché hybrid could be just right for you. And for the price of a book/dvd combo, you get the equivalent of an evening course in flower arranging!

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