Paper Artisan Series

Hiromi Takeda

What is your process in creating pop-up art? What tools and materials do you use?

I first consider what I want the pop-up movement to capture. I figure out the mechanics and then select plants that will suit the composition. After creating many prototypes to perfect the movement, I create a paper pattern. Once the pattern is scanned in and the digital die lines created, I paint the art and finalize the color files.

The tools I use are quite ordinary: paper, a utility knife, and a light table. (Until I bought the light table, I used to trace all my patterns using a window. I soon realized I could only do this on sunny days!) I paint with acrylics and sometimes incorporate traditional Japanese pigments.

How did you begin paper engineering? Is it something you always wanted to do or a passion that developed over time?

I fell into paper engineering unexpectedly. My first memory of touching a pop-up card for the first time is so distinct! I was 22 and inside a greeting card shop. As soon as I opened a pop-up, it felt like all my cells started boiling, starting from my fingertips to my entire body. I thought to myself, “I want to pursue this!”

Since then, I have learned how to create pop-ups on my own and continue on this journey today.

What’s special about the creating and printing of pop-up art?

I like to think of each individual flower that I’m popping up as a person—what kind of person they are, how they behave, and what makes them unique. Then I try to reflect this into three-dimensional space.

I also follow my own set of rules—each piece must showcase each curve in a beautiful way, be easy to assemble, and use the least parts needed for the design to be effective.

It’s evident that you are inspired by the beauty in nature! What plant motif are you most proud of creating? Is there a plant you’re wanting to create next?

My first pop-up piece, Let Me Bloom, is the most special to me. The flower I chose to feature is imaginary. I’m using a similar pop-up mechanism for the Rose card I designed for the Paper Artisan Series.

I want to make a piece inspired by the butterfly-filled buttercup meadows that I saw in Ireland. The scenery was so beautiful and peaceful. I wish I could visit there again!

Who/what is your greatest inspiration?

I would absolutely say Mr. Keith Moseley! He is a wonderful paper-engineer in England. When I saw his flower pop-up book for the first time, I felt so inspired. After six years of teaching myself how to create pop-ups, I visited him to share my work; that was the most special day in my life.

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