Design comes in many forms and the elaborate paper constructions developed in the world of pop-up books still amaze and surprise children and adults alike. Combining both color and senses, the Cooper Hewitt Library houses several of these gems–most notably works by David A. Carter. A master paper engineer, he has created over 90 books, and is famous for his Bug series and Color series.

Carter’s Bug series consists of 30 books of different shapes, sizes, colors and actions. Some are creepy crawly, fun, and even scary!  In Colors, there is a bug of every color – green for grasshopper, blue for butterfly.  Pop-up and moveable features accentuate these bugs of different colors. The bugs rise from the page as if about to fly off–while also adding to a bug life fantasy with worms the color of the rainbow.

Image features worms rising from the book in various colors. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.

Bugs of every hue

Carter’s Color series includes One Red DotBlue 2600 Black Spots, Yellow Square, and White Noise.  The Color series comprises “hide and seek” books that engage the reader to find both color and shape in intricately designed shapes.

Image features black circles on a silver background with title

Each page contains an original piece of art work that challenges the reader to find the black spots

Image features white grass fanning with 90 black spots on tips.

White grasses tip top and 90 Black Spots

These books remind us not only of childhood fun but the patience and craft of paper engineering. The craftsmanship and design of these beautiful works of art are still a mystery to some but there are several books within the library collection to help those interested in creating their own, such as Pop-O-Mania: How to Create Your Own Pop Ups, by Barbara Valenta.  Enjoy!


Nilda Lopez is the Library Technician at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Library

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