Paper Engineer: Rob Kelly

There's nothing quite like hearing from a fellow paper aficionado and learning that the person lives in your same state - after all, those of us who spend time contemplating the possibilities of paper are fairly few and far between. Rob Kelly has long been interested in paper engineering and kinetic paper sculpture, but only recently began blogging.

Pop-up Pinball Machine

Rob's training was in fine art, sculpture, and animation with additional involvement in electronics and technology. A professional paper engineer for the past decade with awards and patents to his credit, Rob realized, even as a child, that his calling was to test the limits of simple paper. He challenges himself to surprise and delight viewers by making it move in a myriad of ways... for example, you won't believe the intricacies of Rob's pinball machine. Originally designed as his business card, he soon realized the minute construction details made it impractical to hand out freely.

Pop-up Business Card

Another business card - a clever pop-up sofa he created for his interior designer wife - is much simpler, yet effective in catching attention.

If pressed, I'd have to say my very favorite of the projects Rob has shared so far is the card he designed to announce his son's birth. The diaper of a stork-delivered baby swivels around to become a parachute, safely landing him in cartoon-Rob's outstretched hand. Too cute for words!

Pop-up Christmas Card

Creating an annual Christmas card is a tradition Rob has enjoyed since the first year he and wife were married. He has already featured a few on the blog and I look forward to seeing more. Each is labor-intensive, but oh so worth it. For the card above, gingerbread Rob & Rosemary spring from a cookie sheet when the oven door is opened wide. Early prototypes included lights and scent, but as Rob says, common sense prevailed when it came to assembling a hundred ovens - the holidays are a busy time!

Pull-tab Christmas Card

Another Christmas brought about this pull-tab card that shows Rob's wife throwing a snowball at his head, thereby knocking off his hat. He says pull-tab cards might appear simple, but are actually quite complicated to design because the action mechanism needs to be hidden.

Recently Rob attended the Movable Book Society biennial convention in Philadelphia where he met many notable book artists, including paper maker, sculptor and author Helen Hiebert, who led a hands-on project. You might remember Helen's name from my review of her newest book Playing with Pop-Ups. Recently she posted on her blog about the convention, which sounded like a paper engineer's dream!

Pop-up Christmas Card

Visit Rob Kelly Design where you may find yourself chuckling as you read through his posts. Case in point... Rob's description of last year's push button Christmas card starts out: Inviting people to electrocute me seems like great holiday fun for everyone, right?

Ann Martin
Ann Martin

This is a short biography of the post author and you can replace it with your own biography.


  1. Playful and imaginative. I can't imagine how much time it takes to create those cards.

  2. Salivating over his ingenuity! Thanks for sharing his talents Ann - he's got a devout follower!

  3. The baby announcement card is truly ingenious!!!

  4. If he had any idea how much I ADORE that pinball machine, he would just send it to me immediately! LOL
    Great ideas with a keen eye for detail and craftsmanship. Bravo!


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