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New directions - paper engineering and pop-ups

Since I started making artists' books, I've become enamored with the forms and functions that pages might take. One page might have hidden doorways, another might open up a sculpture, and another may have turning wheels or sliding parts. The dynamic nature of pop-up and paper engineering brings another element of delight and vitality to the book - and of course, a sense of play that I'm perpetually drawn to.

Because I'm looking at the concept of intimacy, I began to wonder if there was any way I could integrate pop-ups into the concept. One of things Harry Blatterer (and I believe Akhtar and Kunwal) mentions in his observations on emotional intimacy between friends, is this idea of having a home in another, and being a home for another. I wondered how I might be able to create houses in a dyadic relationship, but in pop-up form - and perhaps in a way that depicts a close or intimate encounter.

I always start with a mock up and just generally playing with scale:

Once I've decided the dimensions, I create templates that I can use if I want to create more than one version of the pop-up:

The page - like all the pages - must include room for the spine (which you cannot see here as the page is open). But the template will allow me to create a pop-up that, when opened, will have two houses facing each other.

Because I know the dimensions for the pages and the pop-up parts, I can start making iterations of them, to see where they may lead. I've decided to create collagraphs for these pages, which is an intaglio technique using screen board. Because it's a soft-ish material, it won't last as long as copper, but I won't want to make too many versions of this print and I'm not creating anything detailed that copper would be more suitable for. It's also MUCH faster to make a collagraph plate than a copper plate.

I've decided to start with a tree as the two-page spread. Each plate (there are two) is about 17 x 40 cm. After drawing the image on teh screen board, I cut around it with a stencil knife and peel the top layer of white paper away to reveal the rough manila paper below.

After that is done, the plates are coated with shellac and left to dry. This is to seal the plates to prepare them for inking. The plates below have already been inked up with white ink and printed, then cleaned, but this is essentially what they look like:

And inked up in black:

And the first three sets of prints ready to dry. I thought I would experiment with printing in oil-based ink to act as a resist for watercolours. You might not see the white-on-white, but it will make an appearance when I give it a wash of paint - or diluted water-based ink.

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