Image Credit: ColetteFu's Pop-up Books, Facebook
Image Credit: ColetteFu's Pop-up Books, Facebook

10 Pop-Up Books That Are Works of Art

Image Credit: ColetteFu's Pop-up Books, Facebook
Image Credit: ColetteFu's Pop-up Books, Facebook

We often think of pop-up books as a simple way to entertain the little ones (or at least we did before the iPad came along!) but they can be so much more than that. When done well, pop-up books can be engaging, imaginative, and even works of artistic brilliance.

1. Haunted Philadelphia

Paper engineer and photographer Colette Fu is an award-winning artist whose 36- by 53-inch pop-up series Haunted Philadelphia features paper interpretations of haunted historic sights around the city like Boathouse Row (pictured above). On her portfolio, Fu explained that she included "Male statues representing 'diversity and achievement of a mature nation...the Laborer, the Poet, the Preacher and the Scientist'" and "images of restrained female mannequins at the Gore Psychiatric Museum" into the full spread.

2. This Book is a Planetarium

Image Credit: Adobe TV

Among Adobe's 2015 Creative Resident Kelli Anderson’s many projects is This Book is a Planetarium: And Other Extraordinary Pop-Up Contraptions. The book has a number of interactive features including a working musical instrument and a fully functional mini planetarium

Image Credit: Adobe TV

Adobe filmed Anderson in action, showing off this book and her other equally innovative projects. The Creative Residency enables two artists to spend a year pursuing their craft by providing them with the resources and financial aid they need to bring their ideas to reality. Residents also speak at conferences and give workshops. 

3. The History of Lacoste

Image Credit: Lacoste screenshot

Debuted in 2010, Claude Foulquier and Septime Creation's project is an interactive, digital pop-up book that tells the history of René Lacoste and the famous brand he founded. While it’s not a tactile object, it still incorporates the components of an actual paper pop up book, like little tabs to pull to reveal hidden features. The digital book has been taken off Lacoste’s website, but you can still see parts of it here.

4. The Pop-Up Book of Phobias

Image Credit: josdoming, YouTube

Looking at Gary Greenberg, Balvis Rubess, and Matthew Reinhart’s The Pop-Up Book of Phobias doesn’t quite count as immersion therapy, but it’s a start. Each page is an eerie illustration of a different common phobia including dentophobia, claustrophobia, and arachnophobia. There’s a YouTube video of the book so you can get a sense of how it moves, but for a less time consuming alternative, you can also skim through these pictures.

5. Everyday Wonders

Image Credit: Commercial Archive, YouTube

For Samsung’s 2013 Everday Wonders campaign, paper engineer David A. Carter created a full scrapbook of London as part of a promotional effort of one of the company's phones. The series included five promotional videos showing hand-made pop-up books of different notable cities—New York, London, Singapore, Amsterdam, and Milan—created at home by different paper artists. A press release from Samsung announcing the campaign explained that the goal was to "utilize the craft of paper art to detail in a simple, yet striking fashion the individual features and functionality of the device within the pages of a pop-up book." The videos were shown on prominent screens—like Times Square, for example—in each of the five cities. In a YouTube video, Carter explains his process for making the scrapbook. 

6. Pop-Up Art Book

Image Credit: The Art of Skinner, Facebook

Originating as a Kickstarter campaign from Poposition Press, the Pop-Up Art Book is a collaboration between pop-up book creators Rossten and Marc Meyer, graphic designer Kevin Steele, and six street artists. Each page features street art that’s been deconstructed, digitally cut, and rebuilt as a 3D paper representation. Artists included are Angry Woebots, kozyndan, Jim Mahfood, Junko Mizuno, Skinner, and Tara McPherson.

7. Game of Thrones: A Pop-Up Guide to Westeros 

Image Credit: Game of Thrones, Facebook

Fans of the HBO series can explore landscapes like King’s Landing in Game of Thrones: A Pop-Up Guide to Westeros. Designed by Matthew Reinhart, the book was inspired by the show’s title sequence and has five full spreads, each with three to five mini pop-ups. The book folds open to unveil a full map of Westeros. A “pop-up review” and a full demonstration of the guide are available on YouTube

8. Moby-Dick: A Pop-Up Book

Image Credit: South Kensington Books, Facebook

Sam Ita's Moby-Dick: A Pop-Up Book tells an abridged version of the search for the great white whale. With multiple pop-ups per page, the book incorporates paper engineering with classic comic panels. Ita created similar books for 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Frankensteinand The OdysseyA YouTube video from the Taiwan-based Pop-Up Kingdom provides a full demonstration of Ita's Moby-Dick. 

9. Il était une fois

Image Credit: Benjamin Lacombe, YouTube

Il était une fois (once upon a time), the 2010 collaboration between artists Benjamin Lacombe, José Pons, and author Jean Perrot, beautifully interprets eight classic tales such as Peter Pan, Sleeping Beauty, Pinocchio, and Little Red Riding Hood. The animated book trailer is available on YouTube

10. Panties Inferno

Image Credit: Cult of Weird, Facebook

Peter Larkin's burlesque themed pop-up Panties Inferno may never get published. Not because it's too risque—there's a highly graphic Pop-Up Book of Sex, so nothing's off limits, really—but because publishers believe that it would be too costly to mass produce. However, some of Larkin's creations were published in The Paris Review, along with an interview with the 88-year-old four-time Tony-winning production designer

Over the last 20 years, Larkin has been combining his technical know-how with his encyclopedic knowledge of the history of burlesque to create and refine a number of drawings and mock-ups that—when arranged in the intended order—would take the reader through a full old-fashioned burlesque show. The idea wasn't to produce a dirty object. In the interview, he explains, "I really wanted to figure out how to make someone take their clothes off in a pop-up book. It's no good having them come off and then having to rearrange everything yourself." 

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George Barratt-Jones, Vimeo
This Crafty Bicycle Can Knit a Scarf in 5 Minutes
George Barratt-Jones, Vimeo
George Barratt-Jones, Vimeo

Knitting can be a time-consuming, meticulous task, but it doesn’t need to be. At least not if you’re George Barratt-Jones. As The Morning News spotted, the Dutch designer recently created a human-powered automated knitting machine that can make a scarf while you wait for your train to arrive.

The Cyclo-Knitter is essentially a bicycle-powered loom. As you pedal a stationary bike, the spinning front wheel powers a knitting machine placed on top of a wooden tower. The freshly knitted fabric descends from the top of the tower as the machine works, lowering your brand-new scarf.

Cyclo Knitter by George Barratt-Jones from George Barratt-Jones on Vimeo.

“Imagine it’s the midst of winter,” Barratt-Jones, who founded an online skill-sharing platform called Kraftz, writes of the product on Imgur. “You are cold and bored waiting for your train at the station. This pedal powered machine gets you warm by moving, you are making something while you wait, and in the end, you are left with a free scarf!”

Seems like a pretty good use of your commute down-time, right?

If you're a fan of more traditional knitting methods, check out these knitting projects that can put your needles to work, no bicycle required.

[h/t The Morning News]

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THOMAS COEX/AFP/Getty Images
6 Works of Art That Were Hiding in Plain Sight
An ancient angel mosaic on a wall of the Church of the Nativity
An ancient angel mosaic on a wall of the Church of the Nativity
THOMAS COEX/AFP/Getty Images

Earlier this year, an 1820 facsimile of the Declaration of Independence turned up in Texas. Despite once being owned by James Madison, it had been shuffled among the papers of a family who eventually forgot about its provenance and came to consider it "worthless," at least until its recent authentication. As one of only 200 facsimiles created by printer William Stone, it was a rare document, but what made headlines was a curious footnote in the document’s journey: It had been hidden behind wallpaper during the Civil War as protection.

There’s something tantalizing about a precious object concealed by wallpaper or painted over; it suggests treasures might be hiding anywhere—maybe in our own homes. Here are a few stories of art that's been lost, and found, on the same wall, hidden beneath wallpaper, paint, and plaster.

1. ANGEL MOSAIC // PALESTINE

Conservators who began restoring the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem in 2013 after centuries of neglect were prepared to clean its mosaics from years of soot and grime. They weren’t expecting to find new ones.

Using a thermographic camera, one restoration worker noticed a shape in the plaster walls. When the team started chipping off the material, they found the brilliant glow of mother-of-pearl tiles. Soon an 8-foot-tall angel was revealed, dressed in a flowing white robe, its golden wings and halo as luminescent as when they were installed in the Crusades era. It’s believed that the angel was covered up following an 1830s earthquake, perhaps to hide damage. Now the lost seraph (above) has rejoined the procession of radiant mosaic angels who are walking to the nativity along the church’s historic walls.

2. MEDIEVAL MURALS // WALES

Mediaeval wall paintings, Llancarfan church, Wales
Chris Samuel, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

During the Reformation, the murals in Catholic churches of the British Isles were often covered with plaster, turning them into more austere Protestant spaces. In covering them so entirely, this art was sometimes inadvertently protected from centuries of decay. In 2010, conservators announced an incredible find in the 800-year-old Church of St Cadoc at Llancarfan in Wales.

Church staff had long been intrigued by a thin red line of paint on the wall. After conservators began the painstaking work of removing 21 layers of limewash, a dramatic painting of St. George slaying a dragon appeared. The discoveries continued with scenes of other popular medieval motifs, such as the Seven Deadly Sins, a royal family, and "Death and the Gallant," in which a rotting corpse with a worm creeping in its rib cage leads an elegantly dressed man to his mortal end. The murals are now on view for all to enjoy.

3. BRETON GIRL SPINNING // FRANCE

Paul Gauguin, "Breton Girl Spinning"
Paul Gauguin, Wikimedia // Public Domain

Now at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, French artist Paul Gauguin's 1889 Breton Girl Spinning is an enigmatic fresco of a young girl dancing at a small tree. In one hand, she is spinning wool; in the distance, above the water and shapes of ships, a huge angel with a sword is flying. In part because of this angelic figure, the painting is sometimes called Joan of Arc.

The work was painted right on the plaster dining room wall of La Buvette de la Plage, an inn in Brittany, France. After being forgotten under layers of wallpaper, it and two other murals (one by Gauguin and one by his student Meijer de Haan) were rediscovered in 1924 during some redecorating.

4. MAYA MURALS // GUATEMALA

While updating their kitchen around 2007, Lucas Asicona Ramirez and his family in the Guatemalan village of Chajul discovered some old interior design—Maya murals, hidden for centuries beneath the plaster.

The roughly 300-year-old artworks in the colonial-era home featured figures in both Maya and Spanish attire, representing a moment of European arrival. One may be holding a human heart, or possibly a mask used in a dance. Ramirez hopes to turn the room into a museum, but needs more funding. Other households in Chajul also have historic murals in their homes, and some are striving to conserve these memories of their ancestors even while local preservation resources are limited.

5. WILLIAM MORRIS RED HOUSE MURALS // ENGLAND

The 19th century British artist and writer William Morris is celebrated for his textiles, writing, wallpaper, and other work in the Arts and Crafts movement. The house in Bexleyheath, Kent, that architect Philip Webb designed for him and his wife Jane in 1859 was intended not just as a home, but an incubator for art. The "Red House" became a hub for like-minded artists, and Morris founded “The Firm”—which produced decorative objects such as stained glass and furniture—there in 1861 alongside several other artists. However, the Red House community was short-lived, and financial difficulties forced the family to move out in 1865, never to return.

When the National Trust acquired the house in 2003, they found that the group had left behind some of their artistic experiments. Behind a wardrobe, under layers of paint and wallpaper, the trust made a most extraordinary find: a full wall of almost life-size biblical figures. Researchers believe they were collaboratively painted by Morris, Edward Burne-Jones, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, his wife Elizabeth Siddal, and Ford Madox Brown, all of whom were major artists in the Pre-Raphaelite movement.

6. AMÉRICA TROPICAL // UNITED STATES

Mexican artist David Alfaro Siqueiros had just been expelled from Mexico for his leftist activities when he arrived in Los Angeles in 1932. Local boosters commissioned him to create a mural on the theme of "Tropical America" on the touristy Olvera Street, which was an idealized vision of a Mexican market, but he had no interest in portraying some folkloric fantasy. “For me, 'America Tropical' was a land of natives, of Indians, Creoles, of African-American men, all of them invariably persecuted and harassed by their respective governments,” he said in a 1971 documentary.

His América Tropical: Oprimida y Destrozada por los Imperialismos, or Tropical America: Oppressed and Destroyed by Imperialism, was a moody landscape with gnarled trees clawing at a Maya temple. At the center, an indigenous man is crucified, with an American eagle ominously descending over his head. Innovative techniques such as airbrushing gave the tableau a visceral edge.

The 18-by-82-foot act of subversion was soon whitewashed. Still, many people did not forget it, especially as Siqueiros became recognized as one of the most influential of the early 1900s Mexican muralists. Eight decades after it was painted, the city of Los Angeles, along with the Getty Conservation Institute, began a restoration. The whitewash had protected its details from sun and rain and finally, in 2012, its defiant scene was again revealed to the public. It is now the oldest mural in L.A., and the only one by Siqueiros in its original location.

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