I should now better. I grew up in a home where French Folds were part of the learning curve. If you're not familiar with the concept, it's not the name of a band you wish you still listened to. It's part of the way I was taught the art of paper manipulation as the son of a printer.
The best thing about growing up in the house where I did was the unfettered access to paper. My father brought home reams of the stuff. Sometimes in nice neat pads, other times on great big three foot tall rolls that could become murals or maps or tablecloths. As a kid who took great delight in filling most blank space with cartoons, I was never long without that spot to place my ideas. I didn't care for coloring books. Filling in other people's line drawings felt like a cheat. I needed that blank page.
This is how I got into the business of drawing cards. Birthday, get will, and eventually the Grail: Christmas. After decades of family cards that featured the three boys in this or that manufactured spontaneous pose, usually on the hearth in front of the fireplace, my parents allowed me to submit work for approval to become the public forum for the Cavens.
First, I had to learn how printing gets done. Most of my work prior to this had been exclusively done in the "hamburger" world of half-sheets of notebook paper. The idea that you could draw on one side of the paper and still end up with something that appeared to have two or three sides to it fascinated me. Once I mastered the quarter-page French Fold, I used it up. I made invitations. I made greeting cards for every occasion, all of which could be copied on your garden-variety copy machine and then manipulated into professional looking product. A simple trick that I played for years and years.
And now I find myself at an elementary school that is in the midst of switching over to a balanced literacy program. That means that the big old basal readers that we had been lugging about for the past fifteen years were being replaced by books designated for each student's reading level. In order to meet such a demand, we have been using an online service that delivers just that, providing we can print these books out and staple them together in such a way as to make them meaningful.
I worked a few summers in the bindery of the company where my father worked. I put together a lot of books, and saw thousands more assembled by machines. With all this background, you might think that folding and stapling a few dozen ten-page books wouldn't be too taxing. You would be wrong.
The French Fold didn't save me. Nor did those summers working on various binders and presses. All that paper and no real sense about how they might come together. My father would be so embarrassed.
After an hour of fussing, I was able to figure out the pattern. I'm hoping that the proofs that I made will be all that other teachers need to follow in my fumbling footsteps. Sorry, Dad, wherever you are.