Part 1: Project 1: Ex 3 – 5: Box and Knife Pleats

A shock wave has entered my work. My iPad crashed after uploading  an update. Many of my images are kept on Icloud. For a small device, the clarity is of photography is generally good and the photos appear on all my devices within seconds. Suddenly, all my images were unavailable, they were not even on iCloud. A local technicnician promised to get all my images back provided I had not ‘restored’ the iPad, he failed to deliver anything except a CD of photos which I could not open.

At the same time Windows 10 does not work with Photoshop. This has meant a huge amount of time has been spent on technology this month. The photographs have been a catastrophic loss, because my iPad also contained art notes, photos of my projects for TM Media and references that I had been maintaining.

It has been a harsh lesson  A friend who managed to restore some of the images, bizzarely most are out of date order, upside down, or others I can read only. My response has been to buy a hard-drive for my laptop and save my work each night.

I have discovered Evernote which syncs with all my devices througout the day. I have to face the fact that many images from travelling, visiting exhibitions, and collating other artists work have been lost. Maybe this has nothing to do with my coursework and that assessors would not be interested in this sideline. But I feel the loss and the subsequent adjustment is critical to my role as a student and artist in the world of technology and I have to respond to these new demands.

I am diving straight back into my coursework. I have been reading Hannah Hinchman’s book, A Trail through Leaves. She is an artist who suffers with depression, she will mention it in passing, then says how she overcomes it with a few short sentences, then she carry’s on with her art, her deep interest in nature, the poignant thrust to her life.

After my first few experiments with paper folding, I have added a few more basic tools to help the process

  • flat object to flatten paper
  • paper clips
  • washing line pegs
  • bull dog clips

Exercise 3: Box Pleats and Knife Pleats. Whilst the linear pleats had equally spaced valleys and mountains, knife pleats have unequal distribution of valleys and mountains. That is, the mountains are all exactly the same dimensions and the valleys have a narrower dimension. Box pleats are double pleats, with the material folded under at each side.

3.1.1  Knife pleats
3.1.2 Rotational knife pleats in semi circle
Knife pleats
3.1.2 a Knife pleats in semi circle
3.1.3 Box pleats
3.1.4 Box pleats cylinder
Box pleat cylinders
3.4.1a Box pleat cylinders, side view

I have discovered that printer paper holds it’s folds in crisp folded lines. Next, I experimented with handmade paper which has a thicker, springier quality and it does not hold its lines in a solid way. My first knife pleat samples I placed under a weight overnight to keep their shape. This worked resonably well, but after a while the pleats spring into a more rounded uneven shape. I quite like this surface because it is more pliable than printer paper and I felt I could be more playful in teasing out shapes.

3,1.5 Box pleats handmade paper
3.1.6 Box pleats
Mark making
Mark making repeat
3.1.7  Box pleats double folded and shaped
3.1.8 flattened and pinched
3.1.9 Boat shaped
3.1.10 ruffled
3.1.11 Hat shape
3.1.12 Bridge
3.1.13 pleats in fabric wrapped wire

The mark making above, provoked my response to wrap wire in fabric and bend it into rounded box shapes.

3.1.14 double rows of pleats
3.1.15 mixed pleats
3.1.16 twisted pleats with wrapped pleats

Exercise 4: Incremental and twisted pleats

The division of space between the valleys and mountains varies. I discovered that adding lines or marks to the paper makes them far more interesting to the eye. I altered the shape of the white paper into a double triangle. The coloured wrap could not hold a fold very well, so I punched holes in the centre and threaded a skewer through it to hold the shape.

Incremental pleats on lined paper
4.1.1 Incremental pleats on lined paper
4.1.2 Incremental pleats, coloured wrap
Incremental folds african wax cloth skewer
4.1.2a Incremental pleatswith skewer

Exercise 4 Twisted Pleats

Twisted pleats are arranged in lines of 3 so that the mountain can be laid to one side at the top and twisted in the middle and laid to the opposite side at the bottom. Variation in size of mountains can make an interesting pleat. I worked samples on hand-made paper, card and coloured tissue paper (which was extremey fragile and I enlarged the spaces betwen the pleats to hold them in place)..

4.1.3 single twisted pleat
4.1.4 card before pleat
4.2.5 pleats twisted
4.2.6 two twisted papers
4.2.6 twists on tissue paper

I have learned a lot from these exercises, particularly sampling and recording my work in a methodical way. I have also progressed by learning new methods relating to how to manipulate flat objects that are capable of holding a fold. I did a little further experimentation using a commercial starch / fabric stiffener. It did not work as expected, or hold a fold in a piece of cotton; maybe its the brand, I dont know. I dislike aerosols in my home and do not want to buy another. Instead I made my own from cornflour and water. I made samples using washed vintage cotton, some were sprayed from a simple spraying mechanism, some I ‘painted’ onto the fabric and allowed to dry. The latter were very successful. Due to the loss of a lot of my work, II will retake the images when I have more time.

I would like to take the folding experiments further. I have recently dismantled a wooden slatted blind. I want to drill holes in each side and lash them together to make valleys and mountains into a sample using materials other than paper. This idea has come out of studying Ali Ferguson’s work, she drills holes in wooden objects and stitches into them to create a story.

As far as this type of paper origami is concerned, it was fun to experiment with, but I’m unsure I like working in such precise ways and there are many very talented artists working in this field. I can forsee using some of the ideas in different mediums and would like to spend more time considering where and with what materials I could take this methodology further.


Project 2: Exercise 4: Cutting

This topic appealed to me very much, because after a trip to Jaipur, India in 2012 I brought home photographs of the screens and windows in the harem at the Pink Palace. It intrigued me that these women, who were virtually prisoners, could see out through the various screens dotted about their living space, but outsiders could not see in. There were a variety of visual illusions, some were very basic concrete blocks with shapes punched out. Some were repeat shapes like a honeycomb or intricate layers of fine wood and gold inlays. Some women in the world still live behind the veil, at least when out in public, and I wonder about their view out into a world that cannot see them. I hoped that I could draw on some of these ideas for my samples.

My reading of Kandinsky’s masterpiece reminds me that art is about capturing an ‘inner response’ to the moral and spiritual matters of the past and that this will stir new artistic responses and forms.

harem windows
Harem windows
two layers of circular holes
2.1.a Two layers of circular holes. red/white

2.1.a This sample has regular sized circles cut in the top layer of white paper, underneath red shiny paper has 3 different sized holes cut out of it, giving it an irregular effect of circles and partly revealed circles. I rather like the effect.

p1 ex4 cutting holes 1b
2.1.b Two layers of circular holes red/blue

2.1.b This sample has the red, shiny paper used in the sample above, it is layered over irregular cut circles of a matt flat blue acrylic painted surface with more irregular circles cut out of it. I find the red paper far too dominant.

2.1.c Two layers
2.1.c Three layers

2.1.c Three cut layers are used here. I used the piece of red shiny paper cut with varying sized circles, the layer underneath is a white paper (harem window images), that I enlarged and used a light box to mark out the shapes then cut out with a craft knife. Underneath the second layer are blue oblong cut outs. The red screams for dominance. The boxy shapes underneath look like arrows.

2.1.d Circular and harem window shapes
2.1.d Circular and harem window shapes

2.1.d The harem window shapes become dominant on white cut card, whilst underneath the irregular red circles are more discreet than 2.1.c above. I really like this piece, there are hidden gems or moons here.


2.1.e The harem cut out window shapes on card, are dominant over a blue background. The background is a blue painted acrylic painted paper with cut out oblong shapes. But they are barely noticable. Next I inserted a small geometric printed paper into the cut out shapes. If the image was sharper the oblong shapes would have been more prominent. I must improve my Photoshop skills! It all looks blurred, the detail and effort is lost.

Cell shapes from sketchbook
Cell shapes from sketchbook

2.1.f  and 2.1.g These samples are a mixture of ideas. The top layer is the cut out card of the harem window shapes, underneath is another idea I have been working with. Spot shapes are cut out of paper, leaving a negative space, some spots are collaged back onto the paper. I could have cut out some of the spots making it possible to see through the work. This work was inspired by some sketches in my sketchbook of cell shapes and the work of the artist Yayoi Kusama who works almost entirely in spots and organic forms.

2.1.i notan
Notan shapes on black card
2.1.j Notan shapes on black card

2.1.h; 2.1.i and 2.1j:  These are another set of ideas that have come together. The top layer is the cut out harem window shapes in whie card and the bottom layer is a Japanese notan* shape, using dark and light areas to create a composition in black card. Two Eastern concepts have conjoined. *The nearest translation for notan is ‘dark and light harmony’. I first learned about the idea in Cas Holmes book ‘The Found Object in Textile Art‘. She describes a process using black card folded in half, then cutting away various shapes leaving some of the folded area intact. So that when opened out there is a series of positive and negative spaces. Having a second layer over my notan shape gives it second illusion and the eye tries to make sense of it, due in part to the illusion of a face.

Where do I want to next with this idea? I would like to create a series of images using the harem window shapes with various cut out shapes showing through. I would also like to work in the same way with the spots overlayed with spots, perhaps in balsa wood or lightweight wood. I will have to work out how to create perfect shapes with my husbands tools or perhaps gain his assistance! Although he says he doesnt understand art, he is always more than willing to help me with my projects. Meanwhile I will pursue some of these ideas in heavy card and work out some different colorways.

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