Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Happy Birthday, Matthew Reinhart - September 21

Happy Birthday, Matthew Reinhart - September 21

I was this close to dissecting a book for our family reading experience. I really wanted to make Frankenstein from Matthew Reinhart's pop-up book, Mommy?. I was going cut apart the page, dissemble everything, and trace all the parts just so my family could have the experience of making a cool "POP". Thankfully, I hesitated and stumbled upon Reinhart's how-to videos on YouTube that teach the basics of pop-up book engineering!

I watched one of the videos and then another and another. I was fascinated. I couldn't get enough. Then, I thought, Wait! My kids would love these videos. And if these videos can teach us how to make cool pops then I won't have to destroy our book! (Whew! I can't believe I was going to ruin such a cool book!)

Matthew Reinhart is an author, illustrator, paper engineer, and pop-up book extraordinaire. He has created pop-up books on a wide variety of topics including Lego, nursery rhymes, Frozen, My Little Pony, Star Wars, and more. His path to becoming one the premiere pop-up book designers started when he was just a kid. He loved to draw, watch cartoons, and was obsessed with Transformers. He recalled, "Growing up I drew on everything I could. I built things from cardboard and construction paper. I really don't remember any box that left the house that was unmarred by me. Anything to build something that was in my head." (That's Art: Matthew Reinhart - Roam new Roads on YouTube).

Matthew's path took a detour when he decided to attend Clemson University. He studied biology and pre-med, but also took art classes as electives. After graduation, he decided not to start medical school right away and took a job at Eye-Bank for Sight Restoration. He explained his job in an interview with No Joe Schmo, "I went to morgues and took out people's eyeballs, sometimes in the middle of the night. By the time I was 22, I had been to every morgue in the New York City area. I saw a lot of dead people -- a lot of whom were really young. That made me realize that life is short, and I have to do something I love."

What does Reinhart love? Building and making stuff, so instead of going to medical school Reinhart enrolled at Pratt Institute to study industrial design. He told the audience at the Mazza Museum Fall Conference 2015, "I wanted to be a toy designer. I wanted to make Transformers." While at Pratt, Reinhart started working for paper engineer, Robert Sabuda. "My journey into the world of paper engineering was initially motivated by survival. I needed a job!" (Raising Nerd).

In Robert Sabuda's studio, Matthew learned all the rules of paper engineering. He helped Robert with The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and ABC Disney. (Matthew Reinhart Website). Then, Reinhart had the opportunity to make his first pop-up book, The Pop-up Book of Phobias in 1999. Reinhart continued collaborating with Sabuda on many more projects and also branched out to work with children's literature greats, Maurice Sendak and Tomie dePaola. Reinhart credits them with helping him make his work better. (Mazza Keynote 2015).  Reinhart didn't have the opportunity to design Transformer toys, but in 2013 he published Transformers: The Ultimate Pop-Up Universe.

In 2015, the Mazza Museum in Findlay, Ohio opened the world's first gallery dedicated to pop-up books. According to the Mazza Museum, Matthew Reinhart donated more that 300 original works of art from his books and over 250 pop-up books from his personal collection. I have viewed the exhibit and it is amazing!

Artwork and process from Cinderella
Artwork from Dragons and Monsters
I love that the Mazza Museum displays the process of making the pops.
It is so cool how the artwork pops right out of the frame!
Matthew Reinhart makes all of his pops by hand. He has a vision in his head and works until he gets it right. The artwork doesn't just happen. It takes many attempts, many mistakes, and he often has to reexamine things before he is happy with the pop. It all sounds difficult but Reinhart believes everyone can be an artist.  He explains, "Making pop-ups is something a kid can do. You've got the material (paper). You've got the tools, like scissors and you've got some tape...Hopefully [my books] get [kids] excited about,  'How is this done?', 'Can I do this?', and 'I want to make this.' and 'I want to be creative.'" (video from Sci Fri below).

Well, we were going to find out...

I was getting everything ready when my son grabbed a piece of 110 lb. white card stock paper and starting cutting. I said, "Hey, I saw those cuts in one of Matthew's videos last night. How did you know how to do that?" He said, "I taught myself." (It came out later that there may have been an art lesson at school that covered the technique of making layers for a pop-up.)
I set up our TV in the kitchen to watch Matthew Reinhart's Pop-Up Master Class: V-Folds Part 1. Why V-folds? Well, we are the V-Family so I figured we could handle a few V-folds!
Before we even started I said to my children, "You may need help during this video. Remember I am only one person. You will have to be patient if I am helping someone else." Inside I am thinking, Stay calm, Eric. You can do this.
I paused the video after each step to allow every one to stay together.
My youngest was able to follow along with Matthew's step-by-step instructions with a little help from her big sister.
It feels pretty good when it works!
The mouth and eyes were made only by cutting and folding the paper.
After each of my children created their pops, they used colored pencils and crayons just like Matthew Reinhart did in the video. However, for Reinhart's books he uses cut paper collage to added color to his pops.

After the coloring was complete, we covered the back edges with glue and attached a full piece of white paper. This covered up the cuts and made the design into a card. 
My son wrote, LOOK INSIDE, on the outside. Everyone thought this was cool and decided to add it to their cards too.
"Can we make more?"
There are two paper engineering crafts in the video. The second introduces using V-folds to create movement with your pops. My son made a pretty cool dinosaur pop with a moving head and tail.
When mom came home they couldn't wait to share their artwork! (When we started this project it was light outside!)
They could not stop making Pop-up cards! So, I put on Matthew Reinhart's How Does One Make Pop-Up Books? to listen to while they created their artwork. 

Check out all these POPS! This was such a fun way to spend a Saturday evening together as a family.
Matthew, it was so awesome to meet you at the Mazza Museum! We hope you have a wonderful birthday. Thank you so much for creating such amazing books...and videos. (We are happy to have our Mommy? book still intact!)
Pre-order Matthew Reinhart's next book, DisneyPixar: A Pop-Up Celebration (available November 21, 2017):

1. Matthew Reinhart's website
2. Matthew Reinhart's YouTube Channel with Pop-Up Tutorials
3. Follow Matthew Reinhart on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter
4. Robert Sabuda and Matthew Reinhart: Pop-up Duo Finishes Off the Dinosaurs (2007) - BookPage
5. Interviews - Best Pop-Up Books (2016), Transformer World (2014), LA Times (2012), Raising Nerd
6. Making a Transformer Pop (YouTube)
7. How a Pop-Up Book is Made via Business Insider (Awesome Explanation of Matthew's Work)
8. How Does One Make Pop-Up Books? via Google Talks
9. That's Art: Matthew Reinhart - Roam new Roads on YouTube
10. World's First Pop-Up Gallery - Mazza Museum
11. Robert Sabuda and Matthew Reinhart - BN (YouTube)

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