This is part of the Make Summer Camp series of posts. As my regular readers know, I’ve been spending the summer practicing skills related to the work I do in the Design Lab. Thanks to a series of unfortunate events, or rather fortunate events that resulted in way too much scheduled time this summer and not enough tinkering time, I wound up having to leave aside much of what I planned to do in terms of carpentry and mechanics.  The result has been a great deal of paper engineering, including this. 

The Hungarian Map-Fold Book

I’m not entirely clear why these photographs are A) so blurry, and B) so huge. But it is what it is.

This is a Hungarian map-fold book.  It has seven pages, each of which is a folded square of paper 12″ by 12″.  When folded up, as you can see in the video, it becomes a house shape — which seemed appropriate for a book that will eventually contain poetry and images intended to honor the seven planets, the seven virtues, and the seven liberal arts.

Or maybe just the seven planets. I’m not entirely sure how I’m going to get text or images into this, except with a lot more glue — and the thing is already pretty heavy with glue.  I’m worried that it will dry in the locked-shut position, actually.  Some of the pages are pretty sticky, and there’s no way to lay it open to dry. Only one panel of the book can be open at a time.

Which is part of the reason it suggested itself to be a book of the Seven Heavens.

As a Latin teacher, I get to play with the concept of the Seven Heavens in my classes. I remind my students that this isn’t exactly the way that the world works — but that from the point of view of an observer on earth, it’s very difficult to imagine things working other than this: a fixed earth, with seven wandering stars between us and the fixed stars above.  The Romans may not have believed that, but their successors certainly did; and it remained a part of the imagined cosmology until the 1500s AD, at least in the Western world.  It was not how the world actually worked— but it’s terribly difficult to understand a great deal of ancient thought without at least understanding this mindset.

Part of me wishes I’d added in three more pages — for the Hymns of Silence that Sam has written about, and for some introductory and concluding material.  The pages do funky things as they open and close, and it would be terrific to have some place for explanation.  On the other hand, the book does a fantastic job of being both beautiful and slightly creepy as it opens and closes.  I like it a lot.

When closed, as you can see in the video (although not for very long — time-lapse videos are awfully hard to make long), the book’s shape is that of a house, or a five pointed object. Part of me wishes I’d made it an actual pentagon, but I didn’t think of it until I’d finished constructing the book. Maybe next time.

I learned about the Hungarian Map Fold, and books to be made from it, in this post about it, which I found through Pinterest. Greenchair Press also has some tutorials on the making of this style of book which I found helpful at the start; once I’d actually committed to making the book, I sort of did my own thing without reading many directions, which was probably a mistake. Still, I owe Susan some serious thanks; I’m not sure I could have built this book on my own without her inspiration.