Lessons from The Snake Book

I've made the snake book (MHB, 39) many times, but last Friday I had an epiphany about it. A small one, but a useful one to me. The snake book, also known as the ox-plow or boustrophedon and attributed to Scott McCarney, provides a form where one can assemble and disassemble a large image by folding or unfolding the pages completely. This is how I've seen Scott use it.

But what if you want to make a book that reads a little more conventionally? You can glue parts of it together like Katherine Ng did for her book, Alphabetical Afflictions (40). It still reads like an accordion fold book, it just doesn't open flat like the book that Val, Beth, and I made, Betsy's Almanac (39).

The revelation came as I was preparing to teach a lesson I call the "whirlwind tour" of folded books. I was looking particularly for structures that could be made from one piece of paper and printed on only one side. Ed Hutchins introduced me to these long ago, and they were an interest and specialty of his.

X Book. Pants Book. T-Cut, almost. Snake, almost. I stared at Snake again. Yes! I found that by wrapping one end around to the back and securing it there, the book feels more like a traditional codex and does not move as freely as an accordion. It is possible, and more than likely, in fact extremely likely, that someone figured this out long before I did since people who like to fold paper tend to discover these maneuvers on their own.

You can use permanent glue stick, rub-on adhesive, a light application of glue at the edges, a sticker, or glued tab to secure the back cover.

This close examination of the Snake book reminded me yet again how teaching can be a path to learning something new.


Lotus said…
I just received my book! I read and commented on your latest post before actually looking at my book.
I have a day off today and will be soaking it in asap! ; )
Anonymous said…
What a great way to finish up a Snake Book and what an epiphany! Love it!
In fact I've been looking for a more compact snakebook version just like this that would lend itself more readily as a Slot & Tab Binding Unit and now I've found it! The combined method works really well and makes for some colourful notebooks with lots and lots of pages that still open out flat! (I like to use scissors for the slot respectively tab units, cutting away just lightly along the edges, which I'm treating like mountain folds during cutting.) Perhaps you have to keep the slots a bit longer than usual. I'm still experimenting but it seems the lower slot (the one through the cover) can be accommodated just snuggly right along the centre of the spine. Yes, there is a spine! I just had to share this with all of you.
Greetings from Austria and keep up the good work!
P.S.: Will have to figure out the correct page order so photocopies made into snake books made into slot and tab books can be correctly assembled in advance... ;) Think I could do with some help here, though.