Explosion Books!

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These small, square books “explode” into a series of square and triangular pages when you open them. Each student constructed their own book with decorative papers, cardboard, ribbon, and construction paper. But… this lesson began as a mystery project! Before they even knew we were making books, students were asked to be spontaneous and free while creating a large, abstract piece of art that incorporated tempera paint, tissue collage, Sharpie line work, and even white spray paint. After the painting was completed, a sample explosion book was shown amidst cries of “ooh” and “ahh”, and students busily and excitedly set about cutting their beautiful paintings up into a series of squares and triangles. The goal in assembling the book was to arrange the colored pages in a way that suggested balance and unity, while also showcasing interesting sections of the original abstract painting. Gold or Silver metallic pen was added as a final, unifying element to these whimsical books.

TO SEE A VIDEO TUTORIAL ON HOW TO MAKE THESE BOOKS, CLICK THIS LINK: https://amslerartroom.wordpress.com/student-work/explosion-book-video-tutorial/

31 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. D'Colorex Art Lessons by Libia A
    Apr 28, 2015 @ 04:04:00

    I love your project, Would it be possible for me to use it with my students?
    Sincerely, Libia at dcolorexkidsprojectsart

    Reply

  2. Raven
    Sep 29, 2017 @ 03:27:25

    Hello, I love this! Is there any chance you could send me a template on how to cut and fold these. Really lovely!

    Reply

  3. Alisha
    Sep 29, 2017 @ 20:45:46

    These look amazing! I would love to use you lesson plan for this. Is there any way you could send me some of your resources?
    Thanks!

    Reply

  4. Eve
    Oct 26, 2017 @ 23:32:57

    have you posted the video yet? also is there a way to possibly get the template for this as well?

    Reply

  5. uamsler
    Oct 27, 2017 @ 00:38:30

    The video is posted! Click on the “Student Work” tab and scroll down to “Explosion Books VIDEO TUTORIAL”

    Reply

  6. janejisunsung
    Nov 19, 2017 @ 12:58:21

    Hi, I love this idea! I was wondering how big did the squares need to be from the students’ paintings. I want to give them a sample square so they could trace out of their painting. Thanks in advance!

    Reply

    • uamsler
      Nov 19, 2017 @ 21:57:56

      You determine the square size based on your finished book size, but for this example: If your covers are 4.5″, and your black pages are 4″, then I generally make my painting template 3.5″. That way, there is a 1/4″ border of black page paper showing all around. It’s important not to cover ANY folds of the book when you paste in your squares and triangles, otherwise the foldability of the book will be compromised. Have fun!

      Reply

    • uamsler
      Nov 19, 2017 @ 22:04:04

      Also, I generally cut the template out of tag board or a stiff paper or mat board—It makes it easier for the students to trace multiples. Remember: you need 11 squares total: 1 for the cover, four for the inside, and the remaining 6 get divided diagonally to become 12 triangles.

      Reply

    • uamsler
      Oct 11, 2018 @ 00:09:36

      I do the same thing: It helps to have some templates made so they can mark perfect squares! I generally go 1/2″ smaller than the page: Example, These books have 4″ by 4″ pages inside, so I use a 3.5″ template, which will allow for a small border of the black paper to show around each piece.

      Reply

  7. Danielle Young
    Feb 19, 2018 @ 16:45:55

    These are beautiful! Did you look at any artist’s work as inspiration for the paintings? I really love the abstract designs.

    Reply

    • uamsler
      Feb 20, 2018 @ 02:02:49

      Not particularly, although Miro was the inspiration for some of the mark making: swirls, dot-to-dot, etc. Day 1: Tissue collage, Day 2: painting: (Two analogous colors plus white or two primaries plus white. I give them three dollops of paint on a little palette and the idea is to mix freely.. Day 3: We used a Sharpie to outline edges— could be literal edges of a painted area or tissue piece, or anyplace where there is a color value change.

      Reply

  8. Patty OH
    Feb 27, 2018 @ 00:43:04

    Can’t wait to get the template for your explosion books!

    Reply

  9. Audrey A Van Brunt
    Mar 17, 2018 @ 01:51:25

    How big is the abstract painting that you have them make? These are beautiful, looking forward to giving them a try.

    Reply

  10. Carol Bowman
    Mar 26, 2018 @ 20:11:01

    Wow, this is amazing…can’t t wait to try this myself and also with kids . You are truly talented. I have been teaching art for 39 years and not too many things amaze or excite me. I have a fun unit called “You Cube” , let’s trade templates…

    Reply

  11. Debbie
    Mar 16, 2019 @ 22:26:09

    What age(s) is this recommended for and how long would it take the children to make the books if everything is precut?

    Reply

    • uamsler
      Mar 16, 2019 @ 22:53:09

      I would say grade 5 and up, with more independence to be expected with increasing age. I do it with my 7th graders (and I do precut everything,) and we construct the book in a class and a half! Each class is 47 minutes. I’ve done it in a single class with the “right” groups. 🙂
      This, of course, refers only to the blank book construction and not the artwork that eventually goes IN the book.

      Reply

  12. Rebecca
    Aug 05, 2019 @ 03:02:09

    This is absolutely amazing, and your directions in the tutorial are fantastic!! I work with developmentally disabled kids and I am going to try this with my 8th grade and high school level students. The comments also really helped clarify the abstract painting part. I really can’t wait to try it this year!! Thanks so much for sharing 🙂

    Reply

  13. Emily Morrow
    Sep 19, 2019 @ 21:05:03

    Trying this with my 8th graders today! Starting with watercolor abstract paintings for the background. Your video and directions are PERFECT! Thank you for sharing this awesome plan. Do you have an instagram for your room I can tag you in when I post pictures? I will of course include your website link.

    Reply

  14. Morgan Miles
    Jan 08, 2020 @ 20:59:17

    These are amazing! Just curious, how long did this lesson take from start to finish with your 6th graders?

    Reply

    • uamsler
      Jan 08, 2020 @ 21:16:05

      Hmmm. It varies, but, based on 47 minute class periods, about 4 classes to make the painting, 2 classes to mark and cut your squares and triangles. 1 class to assemble the book, (If you pre-cut and prep everything, set up stations to choose materials and are VERY organized!) 1 class to glue the pieces in the book, one class to embellish. To be safe, plan on two weeks, if you meet daily.

      Reply

  15. marie Johnson
    Feb 09, 2020 @ 19:39:34

    Good morning , love this lesson . So much to learn in the process. I do have a question though . What size are the squares that the children cut out from their abstract painting? Also how large is the paper that you used for the abstract painting? Thank you so much for this wonderful lesson.

    Reply

    • uamsler
      Feb 09, 2020 @ 19:54:59

      Did you see the video tutorial? https://amslerartroom.wordpress.com/student-work/explosion-book-video-tutorial/
      This breaks down some of the sizes/techniques, but basically the page squares should be about 1/4-1/2″ smaller than the finished “page” of the book. I believe the sample shows 4″ squares. Size of big painting doesn’t matter as long as you have enough room to trace 11 interesting squares. I’ve seen people who have the kids paint long strips that are pre-measured to the correct width, and they just cut those strips into squares. (This option may go quicker, but leaves little “choice” as to the composition of each square.)

      Reply

      • Marie Johnson
        Feb 09, 2020 @ 20:59:56

        Thank you so much for your quick response,
        Yes I did watch the video extremely helpful. I noted that you mentioned the size of the black paper as
        well as chipboard but not the the actual squares
        from the abstract.
        However having your clarification on size of abstract squares is perfect .
        Thank you again for a super lesson.

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