Pop-up cards change a typically two-dimensional greeting into a three-dimensional world by use of flaps, revolving parts and other movable pieces to enhance the text. These cards are enjoyed by both children and adults. Their history and features are as interesting as their designs are in variation.
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In 1860, Luther Meggendorfer was an entrepreneur who took advantage of the recent capabilities in the German printing industry. He was known for making books with pages that unfolded into panoramas, pop-ups and mechanical pull tabs. The Victorian era saw to the growth of the pop-up card industry and paper dolls. Cards were developed that featured hand painting, ribbon, opening shutters or doors revealing second layers and rivets for support and mechanical motion.
Pop-up cards became harder to find after World Wars I and II. According to pop-up enthusiast and collector Taylor Hagerty, paper-engineered cards enjoyed a rebirth during the 1980s, when Japanese origami became popular. Today, finding a handmade vintage pop-up is a treasure.
A sense of depth is created as a three-dimensional scene pops up when someone tears open an envelope and opens one of these cards. Some instantly smitten by this effect become lifetime collectors of the cards.
Pop-ups have been made to include a range of features including pull tabs, die cuts, multiple pop-up layers, add-ons such as rhinestones or pressed flowers and even lace. Such depth, texture and style often evoke stronger reactions than simpler two-dimensional cards. Some cards have elements that flip or slide, while others have hidden flaps that only the keenest eye will notice. It is this element of discovery that lends to its popularity among anyone curious.
Pop-up cards can be handmade to any size. The cards can stand as small as 3 by 5 inches or as tall as 2 feet. They have multiple layers and tabs that, when pulled, reveal special sentiments. The size of the card when closed may become inconsequential once it is opened and the volume is suddenly much larger than the recipient expected.
Artists such as Michael Jacobs and Robert Sabuda have invented new ways to make pop-ups and teach others the art of paper engineering through published works and workshops. Sabuda also makes pop-up books. What many consider to be a hobby, a few have made into a career.