Pop-up book Reflection: mother turned the radio to NPR

I knew I would enjoy creating pop-up books when I saw the lightsabers pop out.

I chose the 2003 disintegration of the shuttle Columbia as the news event I wanted to work with. I remember teachers discussing it while I was in school. Finding a poem (written by a teenager that heard what happened on the radio)—and then transcriptions of actual conversations that took place between NASA and the shuttle—inspired me to design a book that presented both, to narrate the event with the technical and emotional complexity and nuances of the chaotic day retained.

The system I created was:
Rick Husband – 20cm, Communications 9cm, Cain 8cm, Kling 6cm, Technician 4cm, Ground Control 2cm—all on vertically popping, black paper — A condensed, medium, techy-looking typeface— for all the actual conversations.

The poem was in a contained black frame, always on the white spread, stuck flat — rounded, regular typeface.


I enjoyed making pop-ups. But the mechanics were harder and more complex than I had imagined. One of the bigger challenges was not figuring out the mechanics, but figuring out how to get the mechanics just right that it fit big enough for all the type to be legible, but small enough that it didn’t peak out of the edges of the closed book.

This was hardest on my favourite spread:

^ rotating mechanics. The paper would be too thin, or the strip would be too long, or too short. I went through way too many versions of this one. The pull strip had initially been glued too far down from the pivot/hub. This meant that:
a) The strip needed to be LONGER—so that more of the circle would be pulled out through the slit (revealing the type)
) the height of the overall piece needed to be TALLER.
c) This was a major problem since I could have neither of those things—the strip needed to be small enough that it fit inside the width of one page, and short since it needed to be exactly 9cm tall.

It all came down to finding a sort of equilibrium length of strip and distance from the hub (even where the slots were located in relation was very important. It’s no joke when they call it paper ‘engineering’.

Fixing the mechanics was all fine and dandy, but then I couldn’t stick it flat against the v angled pop up…the mechanics wouldn’t work. So then I had to re-adjust the distances and measurements to ensure that there was enough distance between the pop up the vertical base it was being stuck to—BUT that that distance was small enough that it also didn’t peak out the edges…

Painful balancing of lengths was another main point I learned.

Now imagine two days after finally figuring out those mechanics and getting it perfect, it starts to act wonky. The words refused to get pulled out completely. Or once the pull strip was pulled out, it wouldn’t go back into the closed position. The problem was the whit bit:

t might have gotten weak from all the movement, and the flap that was supposed to remain semi-folded, kept opening up. (above). I couldn’t just stick it down, because that was the area the arm moved in.

^tried to use some awkward mechanics to keep it down from the sides, extended the length of the arm. That didn’t really help much. What helped was:
Narrowing the width of the arm that fit inside the white circle, and making the circle slightly bigger (that also was a big deal). The reason the flap kept rising and messing with the overall mechanics was because the arm kept getting caught on the edges of the circle, pushing it up.

Designing the pop-ups were the major learning moments of this project (also the most time-consuming and irritating).

Next came experimenting with type size and placement.

Wanting to convey more meaning with the type, I experimented with variation on a few spreads. Here the communication is failing and finally getting lost forever:

The very final step was deciding the symbol that would be the prompt for which direction to pull the tabs in:


^ After experimenting to link back to the buttons and mechanisms inside the aircraft, I decided on a simple arrow. The style of the buttons was inconsistent with the overall style of the book (it was too detailed/embellished).

Overall Reflection (in short):
I learned more than I had initially planned to about pop-ups. Something I wish I had known a week earlier was transferring ink onto paper (using some kind of blender)—Maha (TA) mentioned it in class today. I would have liked to try that in comparison to simply cutting and sticking the type on. So, that was one aspect I would have experimented with more if I had the time—the appearance of the type. What if I had transferred the type multiple times, making it look faded in some areas?? Faded in areas where communication was difficult?

The guy on youtube had it easy, when he demonstrated on plain sheets. Customizing all those demonstrations to be the right size and length to fit the spread while being long enough for the type  that would go on the piece, was the hard part. I learned the importance of tests, iterations, more tests. And patience.


Mailer Piece: Process and Reflections

Visual analysis of the exhibition:

After returning from the Riwaq exhibition, and then later visiting the Mathaf one, I became pretty certain that I wanted to have a concept focused around the different styles in which Azzawi portrays human faces—and the concepts behind them.

hese are some of the analyses that I did of a few of his works that really caught my eye, they were ‘In the North (Halat Insaniya) series, Jenin, and Bilad Al-Sawad (war cry). It was when writing the 8th point (the emotions and core ideas in the piece) that I got more of a direction. All three were about the dark feelings that war brings with it, and how it reflects in the humans faces.

These insights gave me something to focus on in my visit to Mathaf. When there, I made sure to analyse and capture the faces there—they weren’t as dark, a lot of them, but they were still serious. The descriptions explained how these were his reinterpretations of classic Prose.

Creative Process:
 found inspiration in many places, including pinterest and signs around Doha. That specific sign gave me the idea of including something that looked genuine (like the spray paint), in the piece. The sketchy style of the artist shouldn’t be copied using a textured brush tool, for example.

Other visual research solidified the idea that I wanted to include a level of reflection in my work—the exhibit is called ‘Retrospective’, the works reflect Halat Insaniya, and the reflection connects back to one of his larger installations.

Preliminary design ideas (sketches, notes, feedback):

ome initial ideas I had were to to have an accordian piece with reflective panels with outlines of the human condition faces stuck on them; a pop up that opened on two sides (a different pop up for each exhibition); a piece that opened like a box, containing key elements from the artist’s works (eyes, doves, the color green).

The feedback I got was to ditch the pop idea, i agreed, it was my least favourite idea with a very weak concept. With the other two, the box opening concept made sense from the other one, but the reflective masks made sense from the first one. So I had to make an attempt to combine the other two concepts.

y VERY first sketch was looking at the mechanics behind the piece. The production, template of the diecut, would it have a thickness/ rounded edges? I got feedback on the shape of template, the possibility of ‘dog ears’ and the suggestion to link the opening mechanism to what is happening inside.

The other thing I had to think about, was exactly how the reflective cards would be made. I had to research what techniques were available. I came across a couple of links and examples:
Metallic Hot stamping
Reflective Contact Paper
Reflective Foil paper.

Afte reading up on different techniques and experimenting, I knew the possible outcome to keep the vividness of the colours and the reflection was to make it hand-assemble the piece in the post-production line. So:

-The mailer piece would be printed and die-cut (the envelope part)
-The outlines of the mask would be printed on and then die cut to the bleed.
-The reflective masks would be paper that has a flush layer of metallic hot stamping—to ensure that it is smooth—then die cut to the bleed
-THEN manually, in post-production, the diecut outlines of the mask would be stuck on to that reflective foiled paper.
-Once both are stuck together, they would be trimmed to the crop line, to ensure a high quality finish.

Some of my other initial sketches:

hings considered were the type, arrangement of the type, the way it would be distributed and aligned on the pages. Something that took a while was the title of the exhibition. Feedback I eventually got was to make it distinct from the address area, and to keep it minimal, like the rest of the piece.

Creating the Final Prototype:
< experimenting with charcoal and paint, to test which style to scan, and which will look the best next to Azzawi’s work.

xperimenting with different compositions and finalising the ‘mail to:’ section.

Experimenting with what to prototype on. The plastic tray (left) was too stiff, the glue became messy. The reflective contact paper (right) was  closer to how the final one would be assembled, looked cleaner, and was probably closer to how the final would look too.

sing spray glue was necessary, since the die cut outlines were so fine.

Q-Post data analysis:
There were different factors to consider when designing the piece. How thick it would be, how heavy it would be, and what sizes would be plausible.

My mailer piece was very thin and came under the category of being a letter, instead of a parcel, making it cheaper to post.

Finally posting the piece was a very fun experience, mostly because this was the first time in my life that I ever posted anything. Sticking the postage stamps on and popping it through the mail box felt so cool x)


What worked:
I was very satisfied with the quality of the final prototype. It turned out very close to what I had imagined. People got the concept during the critique, and felt that the Mathaf mask was more successful. The concept being:
The mailer piece encourages people to go to the exhibition with heightened awareness, since it encourages them to reflect on themselves through Azzawi’s work. The focus on the faces is to portray Azzawi’s take on the human state and emotions (even those of fictional people). The concept of showing the existence of two exhibitions is through the orientation of the piece. All the Riwaq information (including the mask) is in portrait, while the Mathaf information is in landscape orientation.  The bilingual organization is with english always being at the top, and arabic at the bottom (in the corresponding column).

What didn’t work:
The Bilad Al-sawad face for the Riwaq mask was more unclear, so it seemed that some people couldn’t tell that it was an actual face as well. The back of the masks gives more information about the individual piece for each’s respective exhibition, but it still feels very minimal.

What I want to improve:
I want to consider making the masks postcards, or adding another level of interaction into the masks. I also want to reconsider the shape of the envelope, where it curves into a tab near the eye. The asymmetric shape was meant to connect back to Azzawi’s style, but I don’t think it’s enough.