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It has been a harsh lesson  A friend who managed to restore some of the images, bizzarely most are out of date order, upside down, or others I can read only.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 1: Exercise 1: Linear Accordian Pleats

I have been reading Roger Housden’s book, Keeping the Faith Without a Religion.

Who made the world?  he asks. Who made this hand traveling across the page in the slanting light of an August afternoon? I look and I wonder and I sit back and I gasp as I realize that I do not know what a single thing is. What this is before me that is known as a table and who this is that sits breathing softly by my side, her legs crossed and her eyes down? It is a wonder we are here at all and a greater wonder still that I can wonder at it, and yet the more I wonder the closer I feel, the more intimate I feel, to this throbbing wild and passionate world. I wonder, and I come alive as the world comes alive before my eyes. Can we wonder the world alive, in spite of all that we think we know about it already? In spite of everything?

I spent my morning, wondering the world alive, turning my thoughts away and instead looking and sensing. I went into my garden, I noticed the waft of honeysuckle under the pergola,  I examined the soft down on the stems, the shape of its curling, looping, fragile, tapering flowers, the alternating saffron and white colours, so bright in the sunlight, its twining branches that curl around everything in its path. The intense green leaves, bold against whitewashed walls and the veins that branch out into tiny curls of web like structures. A potter wasp was hovering nearby, drawn by its mysteries, I was in overwhelm of nature and I had only been there for a few minutes.

I might draw this plant, I might photograph it or use its leaves as a colouring agent, I might put it in the house, so that the scent can remind me of its presence. I don’t know. I’m trying not to think. I could never know the depth of these fragile, living structures, even if I spent the rest of my life studying every thing that is known about them…. and that is the human dilema…. We think we can know everything there is to know by reading and researching it. Our minds are stuffed with information, personal problems,  world problems, information technology and our own biased cultural conditioning. Do we miss or bypass our senses, when the mind-made-self has such importance, do we miss the essence of the moment?  I’m trying not to think. I want to escape the mind of words and judgements. Today I want to wonder.

My wondering took me into the house, and to my experiments with folding flat paper into 3D structures. I am sat in a room full of sunlight, so good for experimental work and photography. Paul Jackson’s book, Folding Techniques for Designers is in front of me: He has been teaching paper folding and crumpling techniques for over 30 years. He encourages the reader to adapt his basic ideas to create personal work using their own themes. He has taught the basic skills to fashion designers, architects, jewellers, interior designers, packaging companies as well as artists and embroideres.

His primary advice is “…to work fluently and quickly…” and “It need not be technically perfect…” this is unexpected, given that some of his projects look terrifyingly precise and geometric. However, he does warn the reader to follow his exact instructions. Some rudimentary equipment is recommended:

  • scalpel or craft knife
  • ruler
  • pair of compasses
  • protractor
  • sharp pencil
  • A4 paper

Exercise 1:

I started with the basics, making linear accordian pleats, in various divisions.  I quickly understood how crucial it is to follow his method, especially using discreet pencil marks, because it is all too easy for the fold lines to disappear and loose track of where the next valley or mountain should be placed. I’m not good at following rules, on my first attempt things went awry. There is an inner drive in me that wants to do things my way! Once I got back on track, folding and following the instructions, I found myself in a heightened state of reality.

Linear folding samples
1.1 Linear folding samples

Maybe it was because I was sat in a white-painted room, flooded with sunlight from four high windows, I was sat at a white table, using white printer paper, wearing white shorts and t-shirt, an almost white cat was sat on my lap. The only colour is the terracota tiles under my feet. I was lost in the work, nothing else existed except the scratchy sound of my hands working the paper on the table, my cat occassionlly stretching out a paw with affection. I was in Zen time.

Linear folds
1.2 Linear pleats: 32 valleys & mountains
Linear pleats shaped
1.3 Linear pleats fan shaped
Liner pleats rolled into a tight bud
1.4 Liner pleats rolled into a tight bud
Linear pleated bud 2
1.5 Linear pleated bud 2
Linear folds on A3 painted drawing paper
1.6 Linear fold 16 mountains,15 valleys. painted paper
Linear pleated cylinder
1.7 Linear pleated cylinder, painted paper
1.8 Linear pleats, shaped paper
1.9 pleats flattened
Linear pleats flattened into shape
1.10  pleats flattened &  shaped
1.11 pleats with curl

I took the basic folding idea (equal spaces between valleys and mountains) to other materials that can hold a fold reasonably well. First I chose new African wax cloth, it is unwashed, thus it contains a stiffening agent. I ironed equal sized valley and mountain pleats into place, then punched central holes through the pleats. Next I threaded a wooden skewer, and then a ring binder through them to hold or enhance a shape.

linear folds african wax cloth and skewer
1.12 linear pleats, African wax cloth
Liner pleats on African wax cloth
1.113 Liner pleat cylinder, African wax cloth
1.14 Brown (scrunched) wrap

Mosquito netting is an interesting and plaible material, but it does not press into shapes very well. I created equally distanced valley and mountains in the fine netting and held it in place with a bulldog clip overnight. The next day the linear shapes were still not pronounced enough to stay in place. I put a warm iron on them, between two pieces of brown paper. This resulted in the two folds nearest the heat source melting! There must be a lot of polyester fibre in the material. I decided to stitch all the folds (valleys and mountains) in place with a tiny button-hole stitch, using a fine cotton thread. It took over an hour, but it is a hot August day  (35 degrees), and too hot to be outside, I sat in the shade of the pergola, stitching after a lazy Sunday lunch. I had made a seafood rissotto and shared a bottle of  chilled white verdejo with my husband.

mos net stitch
1-15 Linear pleats in mosquito net stitched
mos net stitch 3
1-16 Linear pleats in cylinder shape

The flat surfaces I started with this morning are starting to feel more interesting. The regularity of the linear accordian pleats on white paper was quitely satisfying, and whilst I worked on them I thought to put some of them together inside a box, like a Louise Nevelson assemblage. In the later samples I liked the addition of a little color, of red matt cotton, it  was a complete contrast to the grey shiny mesh. I left my red threads loose and long, waiting for more inspiration.

accordian pleats

1.1.16 My final sample used a fine filament mesh to create  semi-circular accordian pleats. It was tricky keeping the mesh from being damaged during folding. I handled it with great care. The depth of the folds are 6cm each, they held their shape better after being put under a press for a couple of hours. I love the fragility of this piece and used a dyed silk cocoon rod to hold it in place.I could use organza on this idea next. I hope the images are good enough because hardly any of this work would survive a journey in the post for my tutor to view them.

In summary for these exercises, I can clearly appreciate that I like a little disorder and working on organic shaped pieces more than stiff regimented lines and precision. graceful folds in sculptureI love this graceful sculpture (above) with its folding elements, leaning to one side in repose and looking out over the ocean in Arrecife, Lanzarote. There is no plaque to say who the artist is. I pass it, and admire its beautiful shapes often, when I cycle along the coastline, no words spring into my mind, I just feel peaceful when I look upon it. I think Kandinsky would be pleased with my response.