Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Pop-up Castle

Today's project is a one-page pop-up castle - much easier to make than it looks. Simply pay attention to exactly where to cut - or fold.

Cut it out of a single sheet of A4 photocopier card.

The castle folds flat for posting - just push the towers towards the centre, behind the drawbridge. 

Here is your freebie design:

If you are digi-cutting the castle out, print out the .pdf of the design first and use it as a folding guide. You will need a steel ruler and a fine-point embossing tool to mark and crease the folds.

Finishing touch: the pennants in a contrast colour. Roll them around cocktail sticks and tape behind the towers.

If you would like to learn how to design your own one-page pop-ups,
papercraft guru Paul Jackson is your go-to guy. Here's a pic (and link) to his indispensable book, Cut and Fold Techniques for Pop-Up Designs:

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Reversible Pillow Box Bunting

Today's project is a print-and-cut pillow box with a split personality - a coordinating print on either side. String the boxes on a ribbon to get the most out of wallspace.

Here's your freebie design:
Nothing much to tell you about making the box - use a fine-point embossing tool to mark the fold lines, taking special care on the curves. Stick down the flap on the base of the ribbon channel before you stick down the last flap (!).

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Paper Home, by Esther Thorpe. Review.

Paper Home
By Esther Thorpe
Beautifully unique origami projects
Pavilion , June 2016
Hardcover, £16.99

Star rating: ***1/2

Another craft book today – there are a number of lovely new titles out right now. No need to wait for the craft book pre-Christmas bonanza. Lucky us. 

Paper Home is clearly a labour of love by author Esther Thorpe, whose inspirations  -  art, design, and maths are expressed in her stylish origami creations. The book contains 15 origami projects  for  the home,  at different skill levels.  Many of the projects are modular – so you just have to master one folded shape, make multiples, then link them together. Origami is a great choice for making contemporary-look home decor items. The geometric shapes and patterned paper have a streamlined appeal.

I am happy to report that Esther is not an origami purist – she is not averse to a dab of glue if it produces the desired result.

The book is very good on sourcing paper – there’s a handy directory in back  (UK resources) – and it suggests usable paper types in addition to conventional origami paper. (Thanks for thinking outside the origami box.)

The projects are divided into chapters entitled Hang, Shelf, and Wall. The projects look great  - they are colourful and striking. The Party Diamonds look like the pleated shades you see in Scandi noir crime dramas (but they are purely decorative), the Lampshade (for a LED bulb) requires precise and patient  pleating , but is well worth the effort.  Papercraft blooms are always popular and there are three types here: Daisy, Lily, and Rose. The containers are noteworthy. The modular Vase looks like an intricately-woven  basket with lots of 3-D interest, the Triangular Basket is a handy mini container made of three interlocking units. The Feltigami Box is effectively constructed from self-adhesive felt squares – good use of non-trad material. The Wall section is the weakest of the three – here, you will find a Star Garland  (you might already know how to make puffy wishing  stars), a Crane Mobile (the ubiquitous  cranes suspended inside an embroidery hoop), and the very attractive  Pyramid Fairy Lights.

The very thorough  how-to steps are done photographically, accompanied by clearly-written text. (I often feel that illustrated how-tos are more effective where origami is concerned.)

So – nice concept, attractive graphic look to the projects and presentation, infused with the author’s enthusiasm. A few more projects would have added to the successful mix.

Here is a link to the author’s website:   Esther Thorpe sells handmade and bespoke origami creations from her website. She also demos and leads workshops.

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Zen Origami, by Maria Sinayskaya. Review.

Zen Origami

20 Modular Forms for Meditation and Calm

By Maria Sinayskaya

Race Point Publishing 2016

Paperback £12.99 UK/$19.99 US/$23.99 CAN

ISBN 978-1-63106-197-4

Star rating: **** (origami star rating!)

If you are keen on the mindful crafting trend, but want a change from colouring, Zen Origami  could be the book for you. ( Actually, it is a “value added” book – it comes with a batch of mini origami squares  and is smartly packaged in a classy sleeve with a slide tray). 

The author, Maria Sinayskya, has a master’s degree in mathematics. She has applied her pro knowledge (and love of geometry) to origami design, specializing in modular constructions – polyhedral, kusudamas, and stars. The exquisitely intricate-looking globes in the book are all assembled from multiples of the same folded unit. To assemble each shape, you must master the folds of one unit, fold it in quantity (having memorized the moves), then build the shape by sliding the interlocking units into place. The repetitive action is calming (an alpha state of crafty bliss). 

The book is thoughtfully planned (as you would expect ) - preface with meditative slant,  contents a gallery of the book projects, followed by basic how-tos, an excellent tips section, then on to the projects. You are eased in gently -  flat constructions  - before moving on to 3D.

The starter flat shapes are winners and would make great gift wrap decorations. The Giant Star is sort of a cheat’s Froebel Star. The Two-Faced Flower is gorgeous.

The multi-faceted shapes are fabulous, and make use of the double-sided origami papers provided. Some of the star stars include: Skella  Alpha Kusudama (openwork interlocking shape), Isolde Sonobe and Ester Sonobe (dimensional multifaceted stars), Lorence Sonobe (an interwoven appearance). Some of the shapes have graceful floral-like curls, others are more angular and spiky. All are breathtakingly beautiful.

Now, when you are applying yourself to the projects, you will come across phrases like “30-unit dodecahedral assembly”.  Keep calm (that’s the point). The clear illustrations – including close-up details   and  text  will guide you through. The step-by-steps are (as you would expect from a mathematician) precise and foolproof.

The projects have been thoughtfully photographed, and are made up in a flattering choice papers of varying colours, textures, and effects   metallic,  dimpled , mixed prints (although they are not the same as the double-sided papers provided, which are a pleasant mix of prints that reverse to plains). 

If you like origami, you appreciate intriguing, absorbing puzzle-like challenges. Maria Sinayskaya’s collection of complex – yet calming constructions– comes up with the goods.

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Paper Cut Cards, by Emily Gregory. Review.

Paper Cut Cards
30 stunning handmade cards with eye-popping 3-D designs
By Emily Gregory
Search Press 2016
Paperback £12.99
ISBN 978-1-78221-386-4

Star rating: ****

This charming book is, perhaps, mis-named.  If you are looking for a papercutting book, you should probably look elsewhere. If you are looking for an ace 3-D cardmaking book with designs contributed by a talented bunch of international paper artists – you’re in the right place. This book contains projects of graded complexity – but even the simplest designs are hooky and original. This is a go-to title for getting your paper engineering skills in gear.

The feats of paper engineering magic are divided into three sections – Cuts & Folds, Tabs & Slots, and Discs & Spirals. So – you’ve got your standard pop-ups and fold-ins, plus mechanical cards. All the projects are handmade (but they could certainly be adapted for digital cutting if you are so inclined).

Star projects include Pot of Flowers (Freya Lines) – a simple papercut with a colourful backing  so both the design and the background pop; Fiesta (Freya Lines) – Mexican papercut-inspired pop-up; Bird Box (Whispering Paper) – a pop-up kraft paper shadowbox with a delightful papercut bird, Knight’s Fortress (Lynn Hatzius) – a spectacular concertina castle that is deceptively easy to make. In the second section, Carousel  (Tina Kraus) would make a splendid birthday surprise, Snail on a Leaf (Rosa Yoo) is a super dimensional pull-tab pop-up. In chapter 3, Bird in a Cage (Kyle Orman) impresses (as the name says, it is a paper cage card - pull the string to reveal the lattice cage).

These cards are all-singing, all-dancing – in many cases, you will have to rely on the description to use your imagination to create a mental gif of the card action. As you would expect, step-by-step how-tos accompany each project.

Outstanding features of the book include a picture gallers "Project Selector" and capsule bios of the contributing papercrafters. Nice.

There’s a template section at the back of the book – due to the nature of the cards, enlargement is necessary in most cases.
So – a pleasing round-up of all-occasion interactive cards.