Paper Engineering Workshop with Helen Friel


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A few months ago I was lucky enough to attend one of Helen Friel’s Paper Engineering classes, along with the lovely Petra from Monmum.

In an unassuming building on Clapham Road in London, Helen welcomed a group of creative girls in to her cosy studio, put the kettle on and told us of her journey into paper engineering.




Helen studied Graphic Design at Central St Martins, specialising in Illustration. After a life-long love of pop-up books, it sounds like she more or less stumbled into paper engineering as a career!

The day’s aim was to create a paper taxidermy fish so we started by choosing either a goldfish or piranha, the colour palette, and then started drawing and cutting our templates.





After some scribbling and slicing (and a bit of swearing), we were handed glue syringes which made it much easier to stick tiny, fiddly tabs together. While the glue dried we chose our fish scales (so many options) and had that all important tea break.







Next we added detail to our fish to make them our own – scales, eyes and fins. I decided on a rather 80s colour scheme for my goldfish. Petra created a rather funky Piraña, complete with pointy teeth.


Paper Engineering with Helen Friel - Inky Collective Blog





The final flourish was to frame our fish. And to keep any more f-words out of this segment, Helen stepped in to put these together.

With our sculptures finished, there was just enough time for a nose around the studio before heading home.






And here he is – my framed fish at home, nestled in with some of my favourite crafty goodies. I’m really proud of him.


Paper Engineering with Helen Friel - Inky Collective Blog


It was a brilliant afternoon – lasting from 2-6pm and costing £45 via The Indytute. The class seems to attract all sorts of different people too which makes for a lot of interesting chat while peeling the glue from your fingers.

It would be great to do a follow up course and try my hand at something more complicated – until then I shall practice making more pond life to keep my goldfish company!

Jen Wright

Jen Wright

Letterpress printer, maker and freelance writer. I blog about the people and things that inspire me, and that I hope will inspire you.
Jen Wright

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