Sunday, 18 March 2012

Elephant No. 168: Neverending Card

I had originally intended to make a different kind of card today, but it required too many precise lines, so I looked around for something else, and found this.

The conventional version of a neverending card involves a bunch of square shapes, and is very easy to make, despite how complex it looks. There are many video tutorials online to help you make these, but I found this one by Veronica Chambers, and this one from Robin's Craft Room very useful in explaining the principle of how these cards work.

Although I was intrigued by the mechanism, at this point I wasn't entirely sure that I wanted to make a neverending card. Then I stumbled across a series of neverending cards by artist Madeleine Chow. I liked the form of these a lot.

Unfortunately I couldn't find any instructions for this type of neverending card. Given that paper engineering and I do not get along, I almost scrapped the idea of making a neverending card as well.

Turns out that it's ridiculously simple. If I'd remembered that I learn by doing, instead of by watching someone else doing, I would have figured it out a lot sooner.

So here, for better or worse, is my method for making a neverending card. Note that the instructions on folding, glueing, etc. apply only to this particular type of neverending card. For the more conventional type, a good tutorial would help you more than I ever could.

I started with two pieces of bristol board measuring 3 x 4 inches (7.5 x 10 cm), but any lightweight card stock would do. If you use heavy card stock, you could try with just one layer, rather than two.

You can also cut these blanks any size you like. However—and this is the only important part of the whole exercise—because of the way a neverending card folds, you have to make sure that you can easily divide your blank into fourths, both top-to-bottom and side-to-side.

The first thing to do is to create folds on each side, and at the top and the bottom. The width of the fold must be exactly one-fourth of the total width or the total height. In my case, this meant 1 inch (2.5 cm) at the top and bottom, and 0.75 inch (1.9 cm) at each side. The reason you make it one fourth is so that, when the sides are folded in towards the centre, they meet precisely.

Make the folds, and crease them so that they fold cleanly in either direction. I used a bone folder to both score and crease, but the dull side of an ordinary table knife blade works just as well.

Glue the two blanks firmly together across the entire card. I used glue tape to save drying time, but white glue works too. A glue stick, on the other hand, probably wouldn't create a sturdy enough bond, given the amount of wear and tear this card is going to take.

Next, you make the cuts in the "window" area of your neverending card. Simply draw lines from corner to corner, then cut along those lines with a craft knife, being careful to cut all the way through both layers.

The card is now completely assembled, and all you have to do is decorate it. You will need three designs to fill out all sides of the card. The best way to decorate the card is simply to draw and paint on each fold, as seen in the first three photographs below. The final photograph in this series shows what the back looks like.

And this is how mine looks in action. I was filming myself with a rather awkward configuration, so it's not perfect, but it will give you the idea.

It took me about an hour to figure out how this worked, and another hour to actually make the card, mostly because I decided to paint it. It's very easy in the end, and if I didn't have client work to do, I'd probably have made a few more of these.

Elephant Lore of the Day
The relationship of elephants to logging in various Asian nations is a complex one. In Thailand, where logging has been officially banned for decades, many former logging elephants were thrown out of work, often forced onto city streets to beg for food, or purchased for various circus-type shows. Others have ended up in illicit logging operations.

In Burma, the situation is even more complicated. Elephants have long been valued labour within the country's logging industry. However, as the country's government continues to expand harvesting of Burma's teak forests, more and more wild elephants have been captured and trained for clear-cutting operations that destroy the very habitat through which they once roamed freely.

Because of the fragmentation and outright loss of their natural habitat, the size of wild elephant populations in Burma has declined significantly. The remote northern reaches of the country, near Burma's border with China, are the most severely affected. Elephants are often loaded onto trucks and driven into the north, hundreds of miles from their previous homes—which is in itself devastating for an animal that forms such strong social bonds.

It was estimated in 2008 that as many as 4,500 elephants were employed in Burma's logging industry. Sadly, the fact that the forests are being illegally clear-cut, rather than selectively harvested, means that the elephants are helping in the destruction of their own habitat.

As with any issue related to the welfare of elephants, it's a tricky call. If there is no longer any room left for elephants to roam free, is it better to employ them as valued assets in a logging industry that also destroys their natural habitat; or to throw them out of work, and into an existence where their only value is as entertainment?

Elephants logging in Burma, 2008.
Photo: ©AFP

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