Technically, I guess it’s not really a business card – but it was meant to be. The “glass” of the pinball machine has the correct dimensions of a business card and the four legs and top score panel would have folded out from underneath of it to form a simple pinball machine-shaped business card. And then… at some point in the design process I completely took leave of my senses. I’m not sure when it all started but I became concerned that if the playing surface wasn’t falling forward at the appropriate 6.5 ° incline of a real pinball machine then it wouldn’t read as a proper pinball machine. Maybe I felt that the piece would look like a coffee table if it were parallel to the ground. Next, I started adding all these tiny but completely necessary iconic pinball features to the playfield such as ramps, targets, flippers etc. (this arrangement I’m using happens to represent the standard Italian layout for any pinball geeks out there.) The pinball machine needed sides too – with the suggestion of stenciled art. You can’t really have a pinball machine without the plunger. And how would the tiny paper players put their tiny paper quarters into it without a coin door? The machine should very simply pop up and lock into place with one gentle press of your fingers too. These are all critical aspects to the design – I was sure. But one night as I stared at the lines on my screen, the thought occurred to me that this could all be done with a single piece of paper. It could be done –  but it just shouldn’t be done. To make a long story short, this short thing is made from one long piece of paper. It’s about 38″ long – but it is a single piece. It folds and glues onto and into and around itself until it becomes this flat card that easily pops up into a pinball machine. But it was no longer the size of the business card I wanted to make. I can’t really use them for business cards anyway because they are so time-consuming to cut and assemble but I occasionally trade them for other really cool paper stuff. This is one of my favorite paper things that I’ve ever made but it really makes no sense when I think about it.

The printed acetate window is obviously a separate piece but you can get a sense of how the rest of this thing looks unassembled  here.




fIMG_3174 (Large)



I once did a very small run of these on some nice, textured duplex card stock. One side of the stock is red and the other side is white which provides some contrast in the design. I’m showing it here with the matching carrier envelope as well.

Pinball Machine Pop-up Business Card
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4 thoughts on “Pinball Machine Pop-up Business Card

  • October 3, 2014 at 3:22 pm

    Beautiful engineering! Yes, it “shouldn’t” be made from a single sheet, but that was the whole point right? It “could” be done and it was a thrilling challenge to see it come together. Such a satisfying feeling you must have had to see it assembled! Do you cut your projects by hand or by machine?

    • October 3, 2014 at 4:23 pm

      Thanks so much! I did feel a sense of accomplishment seeing this finally come together.
      This was one of the first projects I ever cut with a plotter / cutter machine. I’ve always started with hand cut paper and I still do that for preliminary work. However projects like this pinball machine often have fine adjustments of 1/32″ in order to make the engineering work smoothly and I don’t trust myself to be able to do that by hand. Creating paper sculpture can be loose and expressive but things really get hectic once you ask it to fold flat and pop back up again!

  • January 18, 2017 at 5:30 am

    nice! if these are available for public please contact me thanks!

    • January 20, 2017 at 11:57 pm

      Hi. Glad you like it. Coincidentally, I’m working on a more production-friendly version of this pinball machine design this week. I’ll post about it as soon as I get something ready. Thanks!


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