Monday, January 5, 2009

Volcano Card Mechanics

I have really enjoyed making my Chinese New Year, Year of the Ox Cards. It's a very simple design, but I've learned a lot by examining it and seeing how it needs to be constructed, geometrically, to stand up and to also fold flat.

After making more than a dozen, I realized that it would not be difficult to add a separate element that would create movement as the person opened the card. The action of opening the card pulls the two parts of the base of the ox apart. Then this happens, the ox becomes shorter than if it were standing straight upright. If I were to add a freestanding piece that stood in the fold of the card, that piece would actually rise as the rest of the popup piece moved down. This is a little hard to explain, but bear with me, as there are photos to come.

(note, I didn't "invent" this bit of engineering. I know I've seen it in before, by much more talented paper engineers than me, however this was for me, a truly "aha!" moment when I finally understood how to make it work)

I first decided to try this mechanism to make the puff of smoke on a volcano shoot upward. The boy's sixth birthday party had a prehistoric theme and I would have loved to have an invitation like this.

When making something complex it is often quicker to work out the mechanics in plain white cardstock before adding in the artwork.

It's a little hard to see from these pix, but can you see how the plume of smoke moves upward when the card is fully opened?

That is because the base of the smoke sits right at the fold. The two bases of the volcano sit some distance away. As the card is opened, the two bases of the volcano move away from each other, essentially making the volcano become shorter.

Once I had worked out the mechanics of how the volcano would work, I added in the artwork. It was simple to add in a dinosaur as a separate pop-up piece.

I was pleased that the whole thing folded neatly flat.

I like this piece very much, though it still needs additional polish and a nice contrasting piece of cardstock to be mounted upon, as well as a clever bit of text on the front to tease the recipient.

There are some constructions challenges with this card, though. The plume of smoke needs to be constructed in pieces (because both the base and the puff of smoke are too big to fit through the hole at the top of the volcano), requiring some finicky-ness that would make it difficult to mass produce easily. I would have to charge extra for the additional time it would take to construct the piece.

I might still complete it and post it to see if I get any nibbles. You never know!


cpeep said...

That came out great! I haven't done much with the slot and riser mechanism. (Just a stage with the performers on the pop up riser, but that was a 90 degree design, not at all like this one).

Somewhere I saw a pop up birthday cake with candles that come up through the cake. I actually thought it was a bit of an awkward design. This combination of the "meet in the center", 180 degree design, and the slot/riser is better.


cpeep said...

P.S. This toaster is good, but it's not the same mechanism. :)

Molly said...

That toaster is awesome! It makes me think of other possibilities, plus it's so dang cute!....

Carol, btw, I LOVE your blog ( The tutorials are so nice and clear and completely informative (I should post more comments there) and I really love how you credit and link to other sites.

People can learn a lot from your blog (I know I am!)