Update: Coraline popup construction

Popup house planning - 3/7/09 updateHey, first post for awhile… I was out of town for the first three days of this week at a training conference (which was actually really good), but during some of the spare time I have had I’ve been doing a little more work on the “Coraline” pop-up diorama project I started last month.

Most notably, I think I’ve basically completed the planning for the house; that’s a big step, because it should prove to be the most time-consuming layer to complete (although I’m still tossing around some ideas in my head on how, exactly, I’m going to do the sky…). You can take a look at where that stands here.

I also did a construction mockup for one of the “lids” to the pop-up; the 65-pound cardstock I’m going to use for a lot of the primary construction would be too flimsy to support the weight of the diorama layers, so the two outer layers are going to be backed with foamcore for stability and strength.

However, I didn’t want to just slap a piece of foamcore onto the back side of each lid of the popup and call it done; that would’ve looked incredibly sloppy. So I decided to wrap the foamcore in paper so it would have a nice, consistent edge.

I wanted to build a mockup of one of the backer boards, just to test out the concept and see how it would turn out before being in position to do a live run on the final project. I initially cut two 8.5×11 pieces of foamcore, intending to wrap them and end up with a standard letter-sized final product. But the paper I wanted to use for the wrap was also 8.5×11 – and that obviously wouldn’t work. So I decided on a final size of 7 9/16 x 10 1/16 inches; it allows for a standard letter-sized page to be cut and scored so it can cover the 3/8-inch edges of the foamcore and leave a quarter inch flap to glue to the back of the foamcore and secure the edge.

The mockup I built is blue; the final product will be black, but I didn’t see myself using this particular pattern of paper very often, so I used it instead. I didn’t think to take any pictures of the build process; I’ll do that when I’m assembling the final product.

I think it turned out really well; it was good practice using a bone scorer, which I’ve only used a few times now (and yes, I learned you can tear through paper if you push too hard with the scorer – valuable lesson for the final product), and I learned that the Elmer’s glue stick I raided from Helen’s art box dries *way* too fast to be useful for a precision project. And I’ll want to be a bit more careful with the corners, although the ones on the mockup turned out pretty well.

I attached a piece of cardstock to the mockup just to see how it would fit; the cardstock is a 16th of an inch narrower than the backer board, because I wanted to leave some room for the hinge attaching the final pieces together. On the final product, I think I’ll make it an additional 1/16th of an inch narrower and an eighth of an inch narrower on the long side, too – to leave a 1/16th-inch border around the entire area. That’ll look really nice.

So – final dimensions for the actual popup are going to be 9-15/16 inches wide by 7-7/8 inches deep.

This is really starting to come together, especially considering I really haven’t done anything quite like this before. Hopefully the final product measures up, but so far I’m excited about the progress.

Andy Bartlett

By day, I am the executive director of communications and marketing at Bemidji State University. The rest of the time, I'm a husband, father of three, and proponent of super heroes, lasers, space ships and explosions.

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