Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Star Tunnel Book

As a child, I was a paper doll fiend. I carefully cut them from magazines, bought them with allowance, drew my own, and played with them endlessly. In my twenties, that love for small things had evolved into building dollhouse miniatures. In my 40's, I had drifted into painting theatre sets, which, like paper dolls, are a bit ephemeral, and like dollhouses, are pretend rooms for make-believe stories.

The moment I first laid eyes on a tunnel book, I knew that it was paper dolls, miniatures, and theatre sets all rolled into one. I have yet to produce one of my own yet, but believe me, the sketchbooks are full of plans. Big Plans.

Most Star Tunnel Books are based on a multi-layered accordion fold. Each fold is a slightly different width, with the smallest in the front and the biggest at the back, so the images have a three-dimensional look. The layers are held together at the front fold, often with a pamphlet stitch, and the books can be read by turning the pages, or, if the front and back covers are opened so they face each other, viewed like a piece of sculpture.

My friend Rochelle shared this particular book (circa 1950's ?) with our little informal book group. It appears to have four layers to each page, giving a wonderful depth to each illustration.  One would need to plan a book like this before embarking on construction in order to get the different layers right. I have been trying to figure out how one might plan illustrations in Photoshop, and then simply print individual layers on separate papers to get the 3-D effect, but at this point "concept stage" is as far as I have got. Someday....

I had written this blog post this morning, then had to rush off to a children's book class I was going to observe. (It was wonderful, by the way, but more on that tomorrow)While there I had the chance to photograph this star book, part of the instructor's collection. This book is not also a tunnel book, but I wanted to include the photos because it was such a nice example of the star book format.

This book incorporates pockets instead of tunnels in its pages. I believe it is a book about Mah-jong tiles. Here you can see how the book could be read by turning pages, or enjoyed sculpturally.

If you are interested in some instruction for building a book with this format, I suggest Bookworks, by Sue Doggett (pages 118-119) or
The Art and Craft of Handmade Books, by Shereen LaPlantz (pages 50-53). Ms. LaPlantz does discuss this format in her well-known Cover to Cover, but I think better instructions are in the Art and Craft book.
Now, go make one!

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