Final Project: Paper Engineering Experimentation with Andy Singleton and Richard Sweeney

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Paper sculpture from cut out

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Cut out sculpted

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Different angle

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As the project is ticking along, I can’t help thinking about the exhibition and the potential display of my book. As my tutors have suggested there are many ways of thinking about a book, the other avenue is book art .

Traditionally books sit on shelves and are only taken out when we want to read them. They can be more than this. Children’s bookshelves are packed with novelty books filled with pop ups, flaps, folded double pages, cut outs…

This led me to experiment with the possibilities that paper offers as a medium. Yesterday, I was very fortunate to go to a workshop with Andy Singleton and Richard Sweeney at the Victor Felix Gallery in London. It was an exciting day full of cutting and folding.

Andy and Richard demonstrating techniques

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Andy’s work: explores the natural and manmade world through intricate paper cuttings, paper sculpture and hand drawn illustrations. Earlier this year, Andy had a paper installation at the Victoria Revealed exhibition at Kensington Palace. His work was displayed in the  cabinet with Queen Victoria’s original wedding dress!




And yesterday we were lucky to see some of his smaller scale work that enabled us to admire the intricacy ofAndy’s paper cutting:

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Fox cut out

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Owl cut out

Cut outs could become a subproject and be part of the display.  In my case, I would cut a dog and a cat. I could also shorten the story or create a parallel narrative as if the two characters of my picture books were intended for a series. Otherwise, I could maybe create separate panels that could be displayed on the wall.  The possibilities seem endless but time will dictate was is realistic or not…






We started the workshop with cutting techniques.

Cutting a template:

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Cutting a continuous line drawing:

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Cutting blind i.e. creating a picture as one goes along – here I decided on a tree.

For it to be more successful, I would need to use a reference for the bark and the foliage.

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In the afternoon, we moved on to paper folding.

Richard’s work: concentrates on the manipulation of paper to create  sculptures in their own right. He combines disciplines such as 3D design, drawing, and craft. Whilst he uses computer aided design too, he still maintains a hand on approach and maximises the properties of paper. 


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Display at the Victor Felix Gallery







Animal sculpture

It was then up to us to experiment with basic techniques. We started with different types of pleats: diamond pleats and fan pleats

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paper folded as a fan

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Different angle from the same sculpture

Paper folded at 45 degree angle to create a change of direction of folds

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We moved on to scoring the paper with a biro or the xacto blade itself and combine with with the folds described above:

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Paper folded at 45 *angle

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side view

Finally, we cut triangle modules that can be combined with the pleats to make more complex structures

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….. such as Richard’s magnificent work.  (If only!)



It was a wonderful experience.  I was not aware that such intricate and gigantic sculptures could be achieved with paper and paper only.

The quality of the paper is key. To assemble Richard uses watercolour paper that he sprays and pegs together until it is dry.

Many hours of diligent practice would be necessary to achieve only the smallest of their work. Maybe knowledge in physics and aerodynamics? Who knows?

Anyhow, for the final project, I plan to incorporate some of the cut outs for a mini book and possibly explore the possibilities of pop ups.





Final Project: Rubber printing

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Experimentations with rubber printing

Stephen Fowler is an illustrator with lots of experience in rubber printing. We were therefore delighted to attend a workshop with him. Straight away, he invited us to  create our own designs and experiment with the possibilities the technique offers.

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Stephen showing students’ work

First of all, a rough sketch or drawing with a graphite is transferred onto the rubber itself, which is then carved with a craft knife. I opted for a zigzag pattern before embarking on the silhouette of a toddler or a pet. Even with the simple design, I ran into problems straight away as I did not carve away from the artwork. If you do not do this, it weakens the rigidity of the stamp and the print is not as strong as it should be. It took a few attempts to get it right even with the more straight forward designs.

Also another thing to bear in mind:  what to take out and leave on the stamp as well as remembering you will get a reverse image. In other words, planning what you want inked and the negative space is key.  It is a very enjoyable technique but it takes practise to get the desired effect.

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Several attempts at stamps carving


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Works from workshop

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I enjoyed the workshop but am not sure if or how I will use the rubber printing technique in my final project.  I will keep experimenting and decide as I go along if I have any spare time.I am now set on using watercolour for the artwork and as it stands now I have to come up with 16 spreads and incorporating a new medium might prove difficult. I am not sure yet how stamping mixes with the chosen medium.  I also bought some lino to experiment with.

I may have a go for a smaller handmade book if time allows me to do so.

Final Project: Bookbinding

An invitation by Catharine Slade Brooking enabled me to attend a bookbinding workshop with Chris Bradbury.  I feel very lucky to have discovered something new and so exciting.

Here’s a brief summary of some of the steps for the stitched and hard cover binding:

30 A4 pages folded in half


stitching 7 signatures:




The cover is added with glue by including two end papers and allowing movement in the spine:


Laser cutting pages to make the edge regular and neat:

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Book with fabric cover – A5 format

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I was very pleased with the outcome but I wish I had thought of varying the colours.  There are so many ways of binding a book that I would definitely like to experiment further. It may not happen before the completion of the final project though but it is definitely a new skill I will build on.