Robots that arrive flat, fold themselves into three dimensions, then walk away–it sounds like the future, but this future is already here in the engineering labs at Harvard University’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering. The robots are based on folding techniques practiced for centuries by origami artists who create paper sculptures from single pieces of paper. For this robot project, supervised by Sam Felton, a doctoral candidate at Harvard University’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, the paper has been lined with Shrinky Dink, a children’s toy plastic that shrinks when heated. Tiny circuits in the flat robot heat and bend the paper into position without the help of human hands. Batteries and a small motor enable the robot to walk, and although these are not currently flat components, eventually two-dimensional versions will be available. Jesse Silverberg, a graduate student in physics at Cornell, says, “Imagine this: A building collapses, and you have a snakelike robot that can go into debris. And as it unfolds, it goes from a soft robot to a rigid barrier that could protect people. It folds one way to crawl into tight spaces and another way to become a protective barrier. It can transform its function on the fly.” To see this robot in action, visit the Bloomberg News article on the subject.
January 27, 2015
October 25, 2012
From early childhood, London artist Marc Hagan-Guirey has been a huge fan of horror movies. He began working with kirigami (the Japanese art of cutting an image from a single piece of paper) by designing a model of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Ennis House in Los Angeles, but then gravitated to more spooky edifices with a design for the house that served as the set in the Adams Family television show. From there he’s moved on to create a Horrorgami Overlook Hotel (The Shining), The Amityville House, and the MacNeil house from The Exorcist. He has plans to do more, and has a show coming up in November at Gallery One-and-a-Half in London. A video of the artist and his work is at this link. Thanks to Betsy Rubinstein for bringing these horrors to our attention.
April 17, 2011
The line between books, electronics, theater and animation is becoming thinner these days with the rapid development of digital readers. We’ve seen several great apps that attempt to capture the feel of a pop-up book, although the experience is not the same as the actual paper versions. Here’s another approach in which film and pop-ups retain their distinctive qualities, yet the two are joined in a beautiful, surreal way. Created by Davy and Kristen McGuire during an artist’s residency at Kuenstlerdorf Schoeppingen in Germany, this large-scale pop-up book serves as the stage set for a story told through behind-the-page video projections. Inspired by Russian fairytales, the story is of a young boy enticed into the realm of an ice princess who wants him to warm her heart. Click here to watch the video.
To read more about this project, visit their web site at http://www.theicebook.com/Behind_the_Scenes.html
April 5, 2011
Students in Carol Barton’s Sculptural Books class at the Corcoran School of Art and Design have been working hard to create pop-ups of their favorite recipes. The resulting dimensional illustrations range from main dishes such as Grilled Fish in Banana Leaves to deserts made with flavorings of lavender and lime. The recipes reflect an international cuisine typical of Washington, D.C.’s multi-national mix. And though the food here is all of paper, it looks good enough to eat.
March 4, 2011
Presenting a pop-up group photo of Carol Barton’s new Sculptural Books class at the Corcoran College of Art and Design in Washington, D.C. Students in this graduate-level class are exploring various sculptural book forms and creating a series of finished pop-up pages and paper engineered structures. The class already has completed a basic pop-up and two accordion books, one with architectural pop-up additions.
If you’re interested in making your own pop-up photograph, visit the Popular Kinetics web site. And if you’d like to learn more about designing pop-ups, you can check out the how-to workbooks by Ms. Barton, The Pocket Paper Engineer, volumes 1 and 2.
November 15, 2010
We love the winner of Bethesda Magazine’s cake decoration contest, both because it features our home town and because it represents Bethesda, Maryland, as a pop-up book. Created by Patrick Musel and his staff at the Praline Bakery and Bistro, the cake ‘s pages don’t actually turn, but they look convincing enough as a bit of paper engineered frosting. It was elected best cake by 51 percent of those participating in the on-line vote. Congratulations!
September 13, 2010
German graphic designer Peter Dahmen has a stunning video on Youtube showing the mechanical movements of his sculptural pop-ups. Executed in plain white paper, the pop-ups in the video become choreographed plays in light and shadow with the turning of each page.
Here’s the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YuQsxFhBGzw
August 12, 2010
Ingenieria en Papel, a paper engineering class, was sponsored by Libros Andantes in Cordoba, Argentina this May. Workshop instructor Alex Appella used many exercises out of Carol Barton’s The Pocket Paper Engineer workbooks in teaching the class, and the results are shown here. Thanks for your email, Alex!
June 15, 2010
To all of you pop-up and paper engineering enthusiasts out there, start planning your trip to Washington, D.C., this year to see the exhibition “Paper Engineering: Fold, Pull, Pop & Turn.” It’s a little gem of a show nestled in the Smithsonian Libraries Exhibition Gallery on the lower level of the National Museum of American History. (If you enter the museum on the mall side, take the escalator downstairs.) The exhibit traces the history of the paper-engineered book, from its origins in scientific astronomy texts through current pop-up volumes of fantastic complexity. Some of the books you may have in your own pop-up collection, while others are truly rare and stunningly beautiful. Curated by Stephen Van Dyk of New York’s Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum library, the show emphasizes the mechanical aspects of pop-up constructions, with great signage and an engaging video of illustrator Chuck Fischer and paper engineer Bruce Foster at work. Plus there’s a wonderful little catalogue of the show available for free at the entrance.
The show runs through October, 2011, so there’s plenty of time to plan your visit. But don’t put it off too long. You’ll probably want to see it more than once!
May 4, 2008
Matt Schlian does amazing things with paper! But even more fascinating is his collaborative work with scientists at the University of Michigan. There they are studying how paper folding relates to protein structure. Mis-folded proteins are suspected to be one of the causes of Alzehimer’s disease, for example, and paper folding on a nano scale might lead to a better understanding of how to correct this problem. To see images of Matt’s work and read more about this project, visit marcusprize.blogspot.com/2008/02/matt-schlian.html and also his website www.mattschlian.com