Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Paper and Light

This term I am teaching the Papercraft Sampler to 9-13 year olds.  I had several lessons planned for our 10 week session together, but once we started making paper lanterns, they didn't want to stop! Our lanterns were based on an up-pop design I've used before.  This 14 sided lantern, can pop-up, or fold flat with the assistance of a rubber band and a paper hook mechanism.  We cut out various shapes on the facets and backed them with tissue paper for a colorful glow.

As we started cutting out our stars, moons, flowers and various designs, I think the kids became fascinated with the light and how their pictures lit up.  I brought in a light table to test out designs before we fully assembled the lanterns. We used battery operated tea lights. We can use sharp knives and hot glue guns, but I draw the line at open flames in the classroom!

We got inspiration from the lantern festival in South Korea where my friend David lives. His friend Gun-Sang took pictures of lanterns all over the city.  We were able to look at his photo gallery online and make comments about our favorites.  We sent him a few of our pictures to show to his students there!

We did find some structural challenges when the stencils were large enough to effect the integrity of the shape as a whole.  In hindsight, we could have considered either smaller designs, thicker paper, or reinforcements in the frame of the lanterns.  Or, if we decided that they didn't need to flatten, perhaps we could have used a wire cage underneath.
I love this intricate tree design, but it does need structural support. A wire frame?

A few of our finished products.

If you want to see more of our process visit my Paper Lanterns album.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Paper Dolls & the Pirates of the Ineffable Aether

I'm excited to say that I have the opportunity to work with Rick Burchett to design a Lady Sabre paper doll for the beloved web comic Lady Sabre & the Pirates of the Ineffable Aether by Greg Rucka, thanks to an overwhelming response to the kickstarter campaign to get this beautiful comic into print.
Claudette Colbert

When Greg asked me to do a paper doll of the sassy and brazen Seneca Sabre, I just about flipped my lid.  I've been playing with paper dolls since before he was born!  My mom had a set of Hollywood stars paper dolls with glamorous outfits and accessories.  I played with Lucille Ball, Claudette Colbert, Elizabeth Taylor, Gene Tierney, Betty Grable, Rita Hayworth, Jane Russell and all the greats.  I didn't even know who they were, only that I loved their dresses, hats, fur coats, pantsuits, purses and bouquets. Their poses were so confident: Claudette Colbert holds one arm up and looks off to the side in disdain, while Lucille Ball looks you right in the eye with both arms outstretched. Gene Tierney has her hands on her hips, giving you a smoldering come hither look.  My design (coming soon!) has taken some of my favorite elements of these dolls, with
updates of my own that ring true to her character. 

Lucille Ball's summer dress
Looking at my poor paper soldiers of war, I wonder how they survived 4 little girls playing with them--switching outfits, prancing them around at their imagined celebrity events and tennis matches.  They certainly wouldn't survive much more at this point with the yellowed tape holding a dainty feet and hands in place, so I decided to start restoring them for myself.  I scanned them in and doctored them up in Photoshop and Illustrator.  I searched the internet for missing body parts: Lucille Ball's hand, Gene Tierney's foot, Ann Sothern's arm from the elbow up to the fingertips. After trying to iron out, unfold, straighten out and repair the fragile outfits just so I could scan them, I decided they would be sturdier and more fun to play with done in cardstock, which I plan to do with Lady Sabre. After all, people are going to want to dress her up for love scenes,  arm her with swords and guns and play out imaginary battles.

Sharpen up those scissors!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Scenes from Shooters

I stopped by Olympic Cards and Comics in Lacey, Washington on Free Comic Book Day last Saturday to see if I could track down Eric Trautmann, author of a moving graphic novel called Shooters, co-written by Brandon Jerwa and illustrated by Steve Lieber. It's about a soldier who comes back from the war completely unable to find his place in the world.  I recently learned that the book had won a Prism Award for an accurate depiction of mental health issues.  Truly well deserved. This is one of those stories that I revisit again and again in my mind.

I sauntered into the store on Saturday at 10:15 and was greeted by probably the most epic FCBD I have ever seen.  Running into Eric within a minute of entering the place was a minor miracle!
The truth is, I was on a mission.  I had been so moved by the book and inspired by the drawings, that I had to create some fan art of the book.  I scanned, printed, cut-up, glued and reassembled many of the pages to display them in pop-up, 3D format.  I would say pop-up card, but it's not the kind of thing you would send for a birthday or Hallmark holiday.  My focus now for my pop-ups is to make them more of a piece that you can set up and display, but easily fold away.

Prototype of the mountain scene
The first one I created captures the scene where the main character Terry Glass contemplates heroism from his wheelchair.  I loved the way that Steve Lieber presented the scale of the different elements of the scene.  The mountain is large, but the statue upstages it, while Glass and his buddy are very small (actually smaller in the original drawing since I stole the wheelchair picture from another page).  I worked a Dr. Frankenstein on these images, so this is really a composite of Lieber's work. I admittedly am self-conscious about cutting up other artists' works, but it is all in humble admiration of their craft.

Yours is the only citation being awarded, son.

The second piece is a combination of a few pages, but I wanted to capture all the feelings in one place. The father's regret, the horror of the battle scene, and the funeral scene in which it is obvious that his fallen comrades will not be recognized for what they have done. In fact, their deaths will be swept under the rug.

I'm happy to say that I did get to meet Eric that day and share my pop-up cards with him and express my admiration for his work.  Unfortunately, I forgot to bring my copy of Shooters to be signed!  I was also way too early to meet Brandon Jerwa.  I'm sure I'll track those guys down again sometime. I'll definitely make another field trip up to Lacey to check out the store.  Maybe on a day that's not quite as nutty as Free Comic Book Day.

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Friday, March 30, 2012

Cura Te Ipsum Pop-up in Living Color

I finished some new Cura Te Ipsum pop-ups just in time for the Emerald City Comicon up in Seattle. I was originally smitten by the comic's bold lines in black and white, so when Neal Bailey told me that had experimented with producing some color pages, I was skeptical. He shot me a copy of page one and I fell in love with it. I had done a pop-up of page one in black and white, but decided to tackle it in color. I added another layer of trees, to create more depth, improved the structural supports, and trimmed it down to make it more of a framed piece for mounting on the wall. If you are at the ECCC, stop by Neal's table to check out the comic and the cards.

Monday, November 7, 2011

52 Weeks of Mail

My friend Molly Lee, pop-up card genius and paper artist, clued me into the Etsy sponsored 52 weeks of Mail project by sending me a glittery bike girl card.  I've been wanting to commit to something like this, so it gave me a nudge to rediscover the art of written correspondence on actual paper.

My first piece is a card for my father-in-law Al Drake of Flatout Press.  He loves the anything to do with the fiftties and hot rods and has written several books on the subject. In fact, he still uses a manual typewriter. I thought this was a fitting start since he still corresponds with friends and businesses alike via mail and his trusty Olivetti.

I was inspired to dust off my old $5 flea market typewriter. I wrote my first term paper on it in High School: A Coming of Age analysis of To Kill a Mockingbird, A Separate Peace, Catcher in the Rye, and Member of  the Wedding.  I'm happy to say that here in Portland you can still buy ribbons and have your typewriter serviced and repaired at Ace Typewriter!

So consider this a nudge to see if you can still write by hand, lick an envelope, and stick on a stamp.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Hot Damn, girl!

Geek Girl Con (October 8, 9) has got me all wound up over my Cura Te Ipsum pop-up cards. Cura is a web comic written by Neal Bailey about a guy who has multiple versions of himself in an undetermined number of realities. I'm rolling out a series focusing on Charlene, the super tough female incarnation of Charlie Everett. She's a get it done kinda gal. She might shoot you, but then again she might take a bullet for you. In the first card I made she's throwing a punch at Charlie prime.  The second features the gun-toting, no bullshit Charlene, along with a short bio. 

Shout out to Neal Bailey: How about adding another female character? She would be about 5 foot tall, wear glasses, be nerdy but smart, and highly attractive. (She's no Velma in this story!) You could call her something like....CharLinda! Just throwing out some ideas here!

If you get a chance, stop by Neal's table (Artist's Alley, Booth 211) at Geek Girl Con to check out my cards, and the comic book. Otherwise, we'll have the new Charlene cards on sale the Cura Store after the con.

Postscript:  Deadlines are fun, but cleanup is not!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Cura Te Pop-up Cards...Animated!

Trying to capture the spirit of a pop-up card in a still photo, is tricky. One has to catch the shadows just right to show off the depth. The flash seems to wash out and flatten the picture. (Have you figured out yet that I am not a professional photographer?) Even a good picture doesn't give you the sense of motion, so I thought I'd try my hand at some animated gif files to show off my cards. First, there's the Portal card on the right as you see it at the Cura Te Ipsum Store. Neal Bailey did a nice job with the shadows on this photograph and others at the store. Try out the animated Portal to see it in motion.

My newest card, not yet on the market ("I know exactly how you feel" ) features an early panel from the comic in which the main character meets an incarnation of himself for the first time. My picture looks flat, but the animated version shows you the card in action.

I will continue my quest to bring art from the comic Cura Te Ipsum, by Neal Bailey into the 3 dimensional realm. Hats off to the artist, Dexter Wee, for providing me with so much inspiring material! I can't wait to cut up his drawings; pyramids, mushroom clouds, Great Wall of China, and other surprises...