18: Pop-Ups

18: Pop-Ups

I think I could write 25 posts about pop-ups, but I’ll spare you…
Pop-ups were my foray into paper arts. In 1986, when I spent my junior year abroad in Germany, I took a class in letter arts and discovered a three-dimensional alphabet in a book of fonts. The font was printed flat on the page, but illustrated in a way that I could recreate it three-dimensionally in paper.
I soon discovered origamic architecture, a Japanese paper form first explored by Masahiro Chatani who produced several how-to books on the subject, many with templates. Pictured below is my first one-of-a-kind artists’ books, created in about 1993, called Uniform.


Uniform, handmade cotton paper, 6″ 18″ x 6″, by Helen Hiebert


Here’s an animated DIY origamic architectural pop-up by Peter Dahmen.


As you can see in the animation, these things take time and patience to cut and fold, but isn’t it amazing, that you can simply make a series of parallel slits in a flat sheet, remove nothing, and just by folding come up with a beautiful architectural form?
And speaking of DIY, Carol Barton has a series of three Pocket Paper Engineer books which come with illustrated pages that you can cut out and fold into a variety of pop-up constructions. Going through the books provides an excellent hands-on experience in making pop-ups.
Ingrid Siliakus and Shawn Sheehy are two pop-up artists who are featured in Playing With Paper. Ingrid’s pop-ups are very architectural (her work is influenced by Chatani’s), both in design and execution.


Cathedral, by Ingrid Siliakus


Some of her pieces take months of precise drawings and calculations to develop, as she designs a piece, layer by layer.


Amsterdam, 2011, Equinox, by Ingrid Siliakus


Shawn Sheehy makes pop-ups in the form of cards and artists’ books. His subject matter tends to be creatures of the wild.


Snail, by Shawn Sheehy


Shawn is currently working with Candlewick Press on a trade publication of his book “Welcome to the NeighborWood”, which is scheduled for a spring 2015 release. All of the artwork will be produced with collaged handmade paper.


Poinsettia, by Shawn Sheehy


Shawn teaches pop-up workshops around the country, often at botanical gardens; his 2013 workshops are all about pop-up heirloom vegetables.
I had the good fortune of hosting Paul Johnson in my home last spring for a few days, and he creates a different form of pop-ups, based on a form of packaging design. Paul created a pop-up paper castle project for my book, Playing With Paper.


Sculptural Book, by Paul Johnson


Paul does lots of teaching in the UK for students as well as teachers and has written several books. His next book, Pop-up Paper Projects (250 pop-up ideas) is being published by Routledge (UK and USA) next spring and is geared towards teachers.
In a way, my career has come full circle (or one circle amongst many has been drawn to a close). I recently completed this artists’ book, The Pop-Up Hand Shadow Book, which is now in several special collections libraries around the country.


Pop-Up Hand Shadow Book, by Helen Hiebert


And this is just the tip of the iceberg! I have a few pop-up books listed in a shelf on Goodreads, but there are many more out there.
What is your favorite pop-up book and why? Please share it with me by emailing or leaving me a comment below.


About the 25 Days of Paper: I’m going to be a crazy blogger in December, featuring cool paper products, projects, blogs, books, or papers each day. Join in the fun by reading along! I’ll also post links on my FaceBook page. Enjoy the season!


  1. Cris Ballinger says:

    Chatani got me hooked alo back in the 80’s and I am enamored of Robert Sabuda’s work. HIs web site offers pattern for those interested too. https://www.robertsabuda.com/

  2. Linda K. Fendley says:

    These are all simply amazing!

  3. SNJ says:

    Thanks so much for that post. I’m in paper engineering heaven!

  4. Rachel says:

    This is one paper engineering book that is great fun to work through, teaches the principles behind what you are making, and then leaves you with a ready reference guide with completed model. ***** IMHO

    • Hi Rachel,
      Thanks for pointing that out. I had that in my collection years ago, but never used it! You’ve peaked my interest, maybe I’ll acquire it again.

  5. Dan says:

    It was reported on CBC National News searvel days ago, as something funny and sort-of interesting that is spreading around the world via YouTube and other social network.

  6. Carolyn Caddes says:

    How do I purchase some of these cards?
    Thank you.
    Carolyn Caddes, Palo Alto, CA

  7. If time is money you’ve made me a wealthier woman.

  8. waaaahhh, i like the last 2 shots alot!!!have a nice trip, i believe your readers don’t mind the silence of 1 week if they get another week or more of great shots from taipei 🙂

  9. We also checked with him, who has formerly worked with our relative in Valparai. This place is best visited after rain… to watch more falls on the other side. Wonderful photo on him!

  10. Ha… David, I read Kosloff's remark the other way round… as meaning, "all other aspects of coal-fired generation are even worse". Which is a stretch, perhaps, but the atmosphere is for everyone.

  11. This is just what I’ve been looking for! I wanted something GF for my little girl for cutting out for Christmas too. I never would have thought of cream cheese in a sugar cookie.

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