Creative French Fold – Exquisite ‘Paper Dolls’ Art Book

As much as I love a good art book, I don’t often get my hands on any that feel like art objects in their own right. “Paper Dolls” is that rare exception. It uses strategically placed die cuts, embossing, foil, and extended gamut stochastic printing to illustrate a poem about humanity’s two deepest questions: “Who am I” and “What could I become?” (As we’ll see, these questions are also at the heart of the book’s printer.)

Truly Creative French Folds

Much of London artist Hormazd Narielwalla’s collage work explores how clothing tells a story, frequently featuring collage pieces affixed to vintage sewing patterns. In “Paper Dolls,” some of these colorful works are interspersed with full-body self-portraits in which the artist reimagines himself as a geisha. While the Frida Kahlo-esque face barely changes from image to image, her outfit does so dramatically from one page to the next.

‘Paper Dolls’ Art Book - PaperSpecs


‘Paper Dolls’ Art Book - PaperSpecs

Each consists of numerous pieces, each with its own color and pattern brought together like an elegant puzzle. On some of these 135 gm (90 lb.) Gardapat Kiara pages this is offset printed in the form of a straightforward illustration to complement a few lines of poetry on the facing page. In other cases debossing and a spot gloss varnish add some tactile interest to an already visually textured image.

‘Paper Dolls’ Art Book - PaperSpecs

Other figure illustrations, however, are much more complex. That is because they are printed on a French fold that has been intricately die cut so as to allow a separately printed and finished sheet tucked between the two folded panels to peek through on the illustration side, completing the picture.

These extravaganzas include pages that feature a tipped-on, foil-stamped sheet. Strategically placed hot stamped foil mixed in with tipped-on tactile substrates. Or much like the artist’s collages themselves, they feature different fabrics and substrates, allowing them to shine through the die cuts.

‘Paper Dolls’ Art Book - PaperSpecs

‘Paper Dolls’ Art Book - PaperSpecs

This technique becomes even more impressive when one panel of the French fold is die cut while the other is embossed, completing two different illustrations in different, exciting ways. I’m not even sure there’s a term for this 3-page French fold – that’s how ambitious this book is.

‘Paper Dolls’ Art Book - PaperSpecs

This exquisite experience is rounded out with die-cut tip-ons that, in some cases, can be lifted to reveal additional poems. And the Smyth-sewn binding [PRO Guide to Smyth Binding] that features different colored threads not only adds a subtle hand-crafted look to the work, it also allows the book to lay open flat.

‘Paper Dolls’ Art Book - PaperSpecs

The result of all this precise attention to detail is something that feels more like an art gallery between covers than a book, which is just what the creators had in mind. (And while I’m on the subject of “covers,” these are 80 lb. Favini Remake [Get Swatchbook], which is made from 25% leather residues.)

Extending the Color Gamut

One reason the illustrations in “Paper Dolls” are so eye-catching is because of the vibrancy of its colors. Everything you see here was produced using an extended color gamut – what Boss Print likes to call “Vivid Colour.”

Faced with numerous challenges following the death of co-owner Joe Kilmurray, Boss Print business partner Fenton Smith steered the company into experimenting with adding colors to its already super-fine (10 micron dot) stochastic offset printing to achieve more accurate color reproductions on press. The resulting process uses CMYK + Violet to extend the color gamut on the printer’s Speedmaster CD74 press.

‘Paper Dolls’ Art Book - PaperSpecs

Realizing this enhanced color-matching process is ideal for the fine art/luxury book market, Boss Print, under the publisher name Concentric Editions, has partnered with a different design studio for each limited-edition book it’s printed, such as Ornan Rotem whom, under the name Sylph Editions, crafted the look of “Paper Dolls.”

From its super-inventive use of French folds to its sophisticated placement of die cuts, this book doesn’t just reproduce works of art, it IS one.

“So often in the design and print world a beautiful project gets watered down from its original concept to a very basic rendition of what it set out to be, cost and budget stripping out all the great ideas and effects,” Boss Print’s Fenton Smith explains. “These productions are the polar opposite of that.” (You can purchase “Paper Dolls” here.) 

While Smyth binding is a smart choice for books that need to lay open flat, there are several different binding options available to you, whatever you’re designing. Be sure to download our free Binding Cheat Sheet right now.

Project Details

Title ‘Paper Dolls’ Art Book Client Self Date November 2018 Design Ornan Rotem / Sylph Editions Print Boss Print Paper Cover: Favini Remake Oyster 120 gm (80 lb.);
End papers: Gmund Original Vergé 120 gm (80 lb.);
Text: Cartiere del Garda Gardapat Kiara 135 gm (90 lb.)

Production Details

Dimensions 330 mm x 245 mm (13” x 9.7”) Production Cost £24,000 ($32,000) Production Time 6 weeks Printing Method Stochastic offset (Vivid Colour) Number of Colors CMYK + Violet Finishing and Binding Smyth sewn, tipped-on end papers, hot foil stamping, embossing, debossing, hand assembly
  1. Linda 4 years ago

    This was a beautiful and inspiration presentation of printing, design and imagination. I downloaded my cheat sheet. Thank you! – Linda

    • Aaron 4 years ago

      Yes! Thank you for the kind words, Linda, and happy to hear you got the Cheat Sheet!

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