SoFo Brings Pop-Up Art to Bridgehampton

Giant Squid from:20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Sterling Publishing, 2008; Paper engineer: Sam Ita.
Giant Squid from:20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Sterling Publishing, 2008; Paper engineer: Sam Ita.

The South Fork Natural History Museum (SoFo) in Bridgehampton has asked Ellen G. K. Rubin, aka The Popuplady, to conduct a “How-to Make Pop-ups” workshop on Saturday, June 13, 10 a.m. to noon for fledgling artists over 7 years old. The event, “Pop! Splash! Hoot! Slither! Growl! Nature in Pop-Up Books,” is limited to 20 people. Ms. Rubin will briefly talk about the 800-year history of pop-up and movable books, using examples from her extensive collection. After demonstrating simple pop-up mechanisms, each attendee will make and decorate his/her own pop-up card using images from nature. A small exhibit of pop-ups books and how they are made will accompany the workshop and will be on view at the museum through July 5.

Movable paper elements in books and ephemera have been around since the 13th century, and have always been hand-assembled, even until today. The interactivity with mechanical paper affords a unique advantage for teaching and expanding information. Until the 17th century, paper movables were reserved for books on astronomy, navigation, anatomy, and other didactic texts. Often, they served as instruments of measurement within the book. During the Industrial Revolution, when a leisure class was forming, children began attending school and were less often a part of the labor force, books for children’s pleasure came into vogue. Publishers vied for readership by appealing to children with increasingly inventive paper devices.

Artists such as Salvatore Dalí, Keith Haring, Edward Gorey, Andy Warhol, and Red Grooms have used paper pop-ups in their art. Literary luminaries like Chaucer, William Makepeace Thackeray, and more recently, Gabriel García Márquez, found pop-up and movables important to embellish their writings. Beginning in the early 1970s, artists have used the book format, enhanced with movables, as an expression of their point of view.

The Popuplady has appeared on the Martha Stewart Living television show and CBS Sunday Morning. She has curated exhibitions and lectured on the history and art of pop-up and movable books at The Smithsonian’s American History Museum in Washington D.C., The Grolier Club, the Bienes Museum of the Book in Florida, the Brooklyn Public and SUNY-New Paltz libraries.

For more information, visit