Scissors, glue and a pop-up view from paper engineer Bruce Foster

By MiChelle Jones/ Special Contributor to The Dallas Morning News….Nashville-based writer MiChelle Jones really wants to see that pop-up exhibition in D.C.

Movable books have fascinated people for centuries; modern pop-ups have become increasingly elaborate and often include miniature versions to augment the larger jaw-dropping spreads.

Pop-up books are simulated in commercials and mimicked in department store holiday windows. They are the subject of an exhibition at the National Museum of American History in Washington and are being adapted for electronic applications.

Houston-based paper engineer Bruce Foster was involved with the Smithsonian exhibition, but you won’t find him reaching for an iPad or smart phone to read a pop-up book, at least not yet.

“Maybe one of these days when they can do real 3-D holographic stuff out in your lap, I’ll be more excited,” Foster says by phone from his studio. “You have to have a sense of the volumes of the things right there in your lap for you to get the real experience.”

Foster is among the pop-up elite, one of the foremost paper engineers in the world. The Tennessee native has called Texas home since 1986. This year he adds two books to the 40 he has previously published – A Christmas Carol (Little, Brown, $30) with artist and writer Chuck Fischer, and Harry Potter: A Pop-Up Book (Insight Editions, $34.95) with illustrator Andrew Williamson and writer Lucy Kee.

Surprisingly, Foster wasn’t obsessed with pop-up books as a child. His introduction to the genre came when he was working as a graphic designer and was searching for a way to jazz up an ad campaign for Hi-C juices.

He frequently makes presentations in schools, explaining what paper engineers do and how they work with artists and writers to create pop-up books. He begins by talking about Disney’s film Enchanted, for which he designed the opening pop-up scenes, and ends the talk with something that never fails to delight his young audiences – Harry Potter.

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