The Book of Bon Bons

Flexagons.  For the past few years I have been taking delight in playing with these geometric puzzles.  You start with a flat piece of paper.  Add a little fold, a little glue, and voila! — three or four pictures where you thought there were only 2.  Well, actually, it’s a little deeper than that.  First discovered/invented by mathematician Arthur Stone, these little mysteries have fascinated children and adults alike.

I showed them to fellow residents at Blue Mountain Center last summer, and guest artist Beth Thielen encouraged me to make a book of them.  One of the best roads to creativity is curiosity, the other is play.

The Book of Bon Bons, artist book
The Book of Bon Bons
still from "The Book of Bon Bons" video
still from “The Book of Bon Bons” video

Here it is.  Only it is interactive.  It is art that is meant to be touched and played with.  Easy to see that it’s difficult to show in 2D, static time.

So I took to working with beginning Video Production students at Berkeley City College.  It was their first project. They came up with the story and shot the video.  It was amazing to see them organized – by their teacher, Rachel Simpson – and swarming on the project.   The Mysterious One made the music on his altered banjo;  I provided lunch on the day of the shoot, and then edited everything down to 2.5 minutes.  The pocket you see in the center of the book cover is for the DVD.

But, you can see this video online at either my Vimeo account, or at  You will find more stills on the jandove site.



Visual Bon-Bon

Getting close to finishing an Idea which hatched during my residency at Blue Mountain Center, and that is a box of visual bon-bons.  In actuality they are geometric puzzles to which I added photographs, prints and drawings.  You can find these puzzles on the internet by searching for “flexagons”.

One fairly simple puzzle with an impossible flap grew into a little book named “Membranes”.

Click on any image to see an enlargement.

Artist Book by Jan Dove
impossible flap puzzle grows into a book

“Membranes” is finished off with some batik cotton and coptic binding.

coptic binding

Next project: finish the box of bon-bons of which this book is one piece — I think.