Part 1: Project 1: Ex 5: Scrunching paper

For this level 1, Open College of Arts course in Mixed Media for Textiles, it is broadly based around surface distortion. I have spent the first few days researching, note-taking and looking at the work of other mixed media artists using this concept.  I already mentioned which artists in the previous post.

I have started the paper crumpling exercises for Project 1. I chose to start at Exercise 5 because I have ordered Paul Johnson’s book Folding Techniques for Designers  and wanted some thoughtful deliberation and practice before experimenting with the folding experiments in Exercise 1. However the course manual does ask students to be playful and choose where to begin.

This deceptively simple exercise in surface distortion, has given me an insight into how to work with a flat piece of paper and model it into a 3D object.

Project 1: Exercise 5: Basic crumpling techniques.

My paper sources:

  • A3 Drawing paper 110g
  • A3 Brown wrap
  • A4 Vintage musical score
  • A4 Page from a recipie book
  • A3 Spanish newspaper
  • A4 printer paper
  • Gold wrap
  • Insert of tissue paper from shoe box
  • sparkly wrap
  • serviette,
  • shiny printed gift wrap paper bag.
ex 5
Project 1. Exercise 5: Basic Crumpling Techniques

Unexpectedly I found this practice to be a meditative experience. Crumpling takes time and we have almost become accustomed to seeing instant results using technology. I stood up from the work table with a piece of A3 drawing paper and walked slowly around the room scrunching the paper and feeling the textures under my hands. I peeled back the dry layers carefully, so as not to destroy the fibers, then crumpled again, walking and repeating the the process. Time stopped. I was aware of nothing else. Crumpling and opening. Crumpling. Walking. Opening.

My first sample was 110g drawing paper, it started to tear and break. It occurred to me that Cas Holmes had described a process (Momigami), in her book The Found Object in Textile Art. She used oil to crumple paper into a flimsy, but suitable ground to stitch into, so I rubbed oil into my hands then carried on crumpling, using all the 12 paper samples described above.

1.5.1     110g drawing paper, scrunched
scrunched colored serviette
1.5.2   scrunched colored serviette
1.5.3       A5 drawing with fine point biro

My skill level at sketching is marginal and I particularly dislike working in fine detail. I need help!  I watched this simple video on sketching scrunched paper, it helped me to define light and shade and how to approach fine detail in a clearer way. Yureka!

Folded and srunched paper drawing.
1.5.4      A4 Drawing,  HB pencils, white pastel
1.5.5       A3 paper; pencil and chalk

Happily, most of the papers I chose for crumpling, stayed more or less intact, with only a little tearing, except the vintage musical score, which is rather more fragile. With all the creasing and folds, most papers had shrunk by about 2/3rds. But the tearing and fraying that occurred in the papers may come in useful later, I am open to exploration.

june 2015 011
1.5.6   Paper Samples: after scrunching

Next, I stayed working with the drawing paper, flattening it out with my hands then molding it into interesting shapes. My hands picked up smears of red dye from a serviette I had crumpled earlier, so that this was transferred to other lighter coloured papers.  I noted which papers can leach color and how it effects the processes. I molded the drawing paper into interesting shapes and tried to take photographs before I moved on to another shape.

At the same time as starting this course, I am also learning how to use a new DSLR camera and to work with Photoshop. I want to take my imagery to another level for this course.

I set up the camera on a tripod studying the YouTube videos on Ipad at the same time. I hardly know what to do with all the buttons and dials and its taking rather a long time to get any results. I have decided to book some photography lessons rather than try to learn everything from a manual, besides I could do with the interaction. Studying from home can be isolating. But my interest and excitement with this form of paper manipulation is high.

1.5.7a ribs pinched and distorted
drawing pastel
1.5.7b quick pastel sketch
5.1 with linear ribs
1. 5.8 with linear ribs
centre point molded over funnel shape
1.5.9 centre point molded over funnel shape


1.5.10a Molded over small dish
5.4b Molded over dish reverse view
1.5.10b   dish reverse view
5.5a Liner ribs rolled at one end
1.5.11a Liner ribs rolled at one end
5.5b side view of above
1.5.11b side view of above
5.6 Linear ribs rolled at both ends
1.5.12 Linear ribs rolled at both ends
5.7 Rib points painted with watercolor brushes
1.5.13  Linear rib points painted with watercolor brushes
5.8 Linear ribs, rulled at one end and painted
1.5.14  Linear ribs, rolled at one end and painted
5.9 Painted linear ribs with centre pinched
1.5.15  Painted linear ribs with centre pinched
1.5.16 center pinched, ends clipped
5.11 Wrapped around box shape
1.5.17 Wrapped around box shape
5.10 Ribs radiating from a central point
1.5.18 a Ribs radiating from a central point
5.10b Ribs radiating from a central point, inside view
1.5.18 b Ribs radiating from a central point, inside view


After experiments with the samples with the A3 drawing paper, I made similar experiments with brown wrap. The difference being that brown wrap is a very good medium for scrunching and shaping, with hardly any tearing.  Whilst the A3 drawing paper was beginning to tear and break. Then I started with experiments on flimsier paper, from a shoe box, a Spanish newspaper and a page from a recipe book. I have overstretched what I can achieve because I am aware that there are another 9 exercises to be done. However,  the work with the newspaper was particularly interesting, the crumpling had distorted the imagery and text and it began to take on the appearance of a ceramic work.

5.12 Newspaper, scrunched, folded shaped
1.5.19 Newspaper, scrunched, folded shaped
1.5.20 crumpled folded brown wrap, twisted
Distractions working from home!

Doing a degree course from home is inevitably full of distractions. Ask any home study student. My cat, (known for jumping over a 12 ft gate & squeezing herself into impossibly tiny spaces) was determined to rouse me from my studies.

She is an orphan, since her sister was run over by a car. We buried her in our garden with a lot of tears. La Bamba is not used to being alone. She seeks me out constantly for companionship. First she flung herself on my course manual, then stretched herself over my work space. Next she knocked pencils and paper samples to the floor. I had spent 3 hours on my coursework, so a well deserved cuddle was a timely end to a very satisfying session.

I still have a lot more experimentation to do with all the scrunched paper when I have more time, it is interesting what can be achieved. I have re-scrunched the shoe-box flimsy paper and the drawing paper with painted lines in readiness.

shoebox tissue