Telling Stories with 21st Century Pop-Up Books

Craft & Design Paper Crafts Photography & Video
Telling Stories with 21st Century Pop-Up Books

Last week, I did a post-Faire piece about the little things at a Maker Faire that are easy to overlook. One of the reasons for this is that there’s so much inspirational eye- and brain-candy at a Faire, that it becomes hard to know where to look. The bigger, louder, sexier exhibits tend to draw your eye and your attention. Subtler, more high-concept exhibits can also be easily overlooked if you’re not disciplined, so I was glad I got to spend some time with Fairy Tales, Science Fiction and Freud: Telling Stories on Friday afternoon, before the big weekend crowds descended.


Fairy Tales, Science Fiction and Freud: Telling Stories is a collaboration between artists Marianne Petit and Jody Culkin. While I was the Editorial Director of Make:, I had the pleasure of working on some projects with Jody who’s a very talented illustrator and cartoonist. Here, she’s teamed up with artist and animator Marianne Petit to create a fascinating and gorgeous series of hybrid media pop-up books that explore 19th century science, sci-fi, and story telling using 21st century technologies.


On their Tumblr page, they explain the project:

Fairy Tales, Science Fiction, and Freud: Telling Stories is work by Marianne Petit and Jody Culkin, told in a variety of media that include pop-up books with embedded electronics, animation, 3D papercraft, VR, and other materials and objects. These pieces are based on stories that originated in the 19th century. Marianne Petit’s work illustrates “Struwwelpeter,” a children’s book written in 1845 by Heinrich Hoffman, Jody Culkin’s work is based on “1975,” a science fiction play written in 1875 by sculptor Harriet Hosmer, and “The Interpretation of Dreams,” written by Sigmund Freud in 1899.


I was really impressed not only by how beautifully everything was illustrated and put together, but by their clever integration of LCD screens, LEDs, and QR codes with additional animated dimensions to the stories. And, of course, the old-school art of paper pop-up elements. It all makes for a very engaging exploration of the stories and it really does create this dreamy experience of mixing the stories of the past with the story-telling technologies of three (plus) centuries.


Discuss this article with the rest of the community on our Discord server!

Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. His free weekly-ish maker tips newsletter can be found at

View more articles by Gareth Branwyn
Maker Faire Bay Area 2023 - Mare Island, CA

Escape to an island of imagination + innovation as Maker Faire Bay Area returns for its 15th iteration!

Buy Tickets today! SAVE 15% and lock-in your preferred date(s).