Dive Into Tunnel Books

Left: “Yawn” (2011) by Melissa Margolin, UF School of Art and Art History. Right: colored and cut engraving by Martin Engelbrecht, c.1750

For centuries, tunnel books have been a part of experiments in bookmaking and wonder-working. Explore their history and possibilities by making one of your own, courtesy of Special & Area Studies Collections and the Conservation and Preservation Unit.

This exercise will give you the skills you need to make your own tunnel book, and introduce you to the history of optical illusions, marvels, and wonders that inspired people to create them.

1. Gather Your Materials

This exercise will show you how to make a tunnel book with smaller concentric circles. You can use any paper or decoration that you want on the body layers, as long as the circles you cut get progressively smaller. Contact us for a diagram with measurements and instructions.

2. Get Inspired!

Objects of Wonder

Learn about the development of the tunnel book and its place in the history of optical illusions and in printing and engraving in early modern Europe.

Click to watch a video on the history of tunnel books Play Video

3. Dive In!

4. Share With Us!

Share photos of your finished book with the Libraries (@uflib) on Instagram and Twitter, or on other platforms using the hashtag #TunnelBooks.

Be sure to take advantage of the other events and resources for Finals Support Week.

Take a Deeper Dive

See the materials used in this video on the Rare Books Research Guide

Little Red Riding Hood, Illustrated by Patricia Turner (c.1950)

Beyond Finals Week

Are you interested in using this material for a group project or lesson? Contact us to let us know!