Because of the Coronavirus I’ve been a little limited in the materials I have used for my experiments. No found items! I have mostly found whereas each sample looked great when carried out in paper it didn’t mostly work so well translated on to fabric, silver foil or plastics. I also quite liked keeping to a theme and decided to pick all my experiments from a limited number of groups rather than one from each, so I could more clearly go deeper and follow a progression from one sample to another rather than jump around, and in some ways I think keeping the material choice limited too may well have its benefits. Maybe I have chosen the easy way out though, using a material that lent itself so well to being folded and crumpled and pleated.
I ordered and eagerly ploughed through two books by Paul Jackson (I, II) on folding and pleating which gave me much inspiration, as well as the Fabric Manipulation book (III) I already owned. I have been fascinated by pleating, shirring, crouching and smocking for a long time and loved ploughing into this subject headlong. I thoroughly enjoyed this assignment, and I also loved taking the photographs and presenting my work digitally.
I photographed all my work either on a light box or on my orange work table to really explore the angles and textures and shadows and emphasise the texture to maximum effect.
Folding and Crumpling: Linear Accordion Pleats
I created pleats on A4 cartridge paper initially, and then moved on to coloured card stock, as well as aluminium foil and plastics. Out of all the experiments this may have been the simplest but with more time and larger scale exciting materials (I’m thinking pleated fabric hanging from trees!) this could be a really effective method for altering the surface of a material. Obviously especially in clothes pleats are very common and often used to stunning effect whether for decoration or for fit.
The experiment with clear plastic foil was unsuccessful as you couldn’t see the pleats well at all.
I cut some of the paper so it was no longer a rectangle and this gave interesting results, some nice angles!
I then used glitter paper which created an added texture of sparkles which I liked a lot. I added extra mini folds to the tops of each pleat to add a little extra excitement which worked well although I wasn’t sure if there would be any further experimentation I could do with this.
Sadly the aluminium foil didn’t behave as well as I had expected and instead of it being an exciting experiment it looked a little messy. I had presumed that the reflective nature of the foil and the ease with which it creases and folds would have meant pleats making great textures but it almost flattened the texture rather than heighten it.
Folding and Crumpling: Rotational Accordion Pleats
Rotational pleats all come from a central point and rotate out. This makes for a lovely varied texture as pleats space out more the further they are from the starting point
For the initial rotational accordion pleat experiments I used A4 cartridge paper. Photographed on a light box it looks great, the pleats and edges making great shapes and shadows, the ridges and folds making excellent textures
I used paper cut to a triangular shape to add extra interest.
I used a piece of denim fabric for the next experiment. In addition to the rotational pleats I added some extra little pleats in the larger emptier spaces where the pleats were diverging from each other. Because these ended in points rather than at the end of the material they acted more like darts, which added a lot of texture to the piece.
Again a lot of scope for larger pieces, kites, huge installations in massive spaces….
Folding and Crumpling: Incremental pleats
After the previous experiments with regularly placed pleats I played with increasing pleats, as well as randomly sized pleats.
I used black cartridge paper for my first experiment. Maybe black wasn’t the ideal choice as a lot of the surface texture was hard to see but I quite liked the formality of the black paper, coupled with the neat ridges and dips.
The next experiment used pink tissue paper. The tissue paper was already quite crumpled before I even got to it but I liked this. The interplay between the pleats and the crumply paper provides a lot of interest! And when placed against a light source even more life and excitement and texture was to the piece which was a nice trade off for sharp creases!
Folding and Crumpling: Twisted pleats
I had fun playing with the twisted pleats especially. This is a technique that didn’t work quite so well on stiffer card stock as the paper was prone to ripping but it worked amazingly on tissue paper. I really enjoyed this technique, the texture is so dynamic.
I used a very shimmery and opaque fabric in one experiment but it didn’t hold the folds well no matter what I tried. I then used a very thick piece of wool felt used as an insulation in my food delivery and exaggerated the folds by enlarging them. The felt is very textured as it is and the folds added a lot of extra character to it.
Folding and Crumpling: crumpling
Folding and Crumpling: Rotational crumpling
For the rotational crumpling I again stuck to using tissue paper as it just turned out to be the best medium for crumpling.
I mainly pinched ridges into already crumpled sheets but also played with pushing the paper into cups to create more regular shapes.
I liked the contrast between the softer crumples already on the paper and the new more pronounced ridges formed by me over the existing crumples. It makes for some very exciting textures!
There’s a huge scope for using these techniques on a massive scale. Or on a sheet of icing covering a cake!
Tearing and cutting: cutting central space
I used plain cartridge paper (not pictured here) and coloured card stock, and a ruler and craft knife to make cuts in the centre of the paper.
The red structure (bottom right) was created from a square piece of card stock with regular cuts made to the centre. I then squashed the resulting piece on one edge on a Lightbox so the strips buckled and bent. The resulting structure was extremely pleasing I found!
The other structure I created by making regular, quite close together cuts in a rectangle of paper. This was then folded over diagonally, corner to corner, before I photographed it. I absolutely love the shapes created by the strips, their shadows and the light from the light box highlighting certain elements of the structure. This would have looked amazing in metal! I love how on the second photo a grid is created when you look at the strips layering horizontally over the background of vertical ones.
Tearing and cutting: Cutting edges
I really enjoyed these experiments. I used paper for the first few experiments and then had a play with felt for the last few.
On the right you can see a simple sheet of cartridge paper with regular edge cuts, then folded into a tube. The light hitting the bent strips created amazing contrasts and on a light box it just took on a life of its own, looking very sophisticated!
Below shows something from all of the experiments but carried out in felt. I felt this was the least exciting, it is almost like the texture of the felt absorbed all the excitement of the curves and folds and contrasts.
Above you can see a piece of cream card stock cut on one edge with slots cut for the strips to fit in to. I deliberately made them all different lengths and it makes for a very dynamic piece. The colour of the card makes it look like it was made out of thin wood and it would indeed look great out of a more solid material, I could see this as an enormous sculpture kids could climb on in a park!
The photo on the left shows a variation with both edges cut and slotted into the middle and then the whole shape bent round on itself. The textures were fantastic!
Tearing and cutting: a meandering cut
This technique didn’t produce very satisfying results.
I used cartridge paper in various colours as well as magazine pages, silver foil and fabric but none of it produced any kind of interesting shape or pattern, they all produced very open shapes without much structure or excitement.
I think this technique would probably work much better on a micro scale and on material that holds its shape better. Maybe metal or wood?
Tearing and cutting: Cutting holes
For these experiments I used various papers (left) and a thin gauze fabric (below).
I found using materials that let the light from the light box shine through produced the most exciting results.
In the experiment shown on page 44 I used cartridge paper with random holes cut out and layered together on my light box. It shows the layers quite clearly and I love the different colours and densities, it creates an exciting dynamic.
The next experiment which you can see on page 49 used the same two layers as before but with added d black card stock which blokes the light out entirely, and found this gave a very interesting result.
The gauzy fabric I used gave quite a subtle but lovely result as the fabric let the light through quite easily, enabling you to see all the layers used in the piece, with different densities producing interesting new textures and shapes.
I can envisage some exciting very large scale pieces covering windows!
Tearing and cutting: Creating flaps
For this exercise I started by cutting flaps in A4 cartridge paper. I didn’t find this particularly satisfying or effective. I hit a bit of a creative wall with this as I didn’t really find a way to make this work or to get excited about the possibilities. The hinge of the flap meant the doorways I had created and which are dynamic and fun in the previous exercise are problematic in this exercise ad the flap kept shutting. Using more than one layer with flaps meant only the top layer’s flaps were effective as the other layer’s ones were either obscured or obstructed.
Saying all this I had some fun with different fabric layers (below) but I couldn’t see much more scope for adventure in this technique.
Cutting holes in material obviously can seriously affect the properties of the material as stability, the structure can be weakened or even break. Hence my choice of sturdy fabric to make sure there was some rigidness to work with.
Tearing and cutting: Tearing
For my experiments with tearing materials I used just two materials; one a beautiful thick handmade paper and one the tissue paper I had been working quite a lot with throughout this assignment.
The handmade paper was very strong and it was hard to make a start on tearing unless it was from an edge. To create windows for example I had to fold the paper in half and put so much force on the paper to create a rip that I also created a fold-line that was hard to get rid of again. Once the paper structure was broken though, it was pretty easy to carry on tearing. The paper is clearly built up in relatively loose layers and these layers tear individually. In places the tear is quite clean and goes all the way through all the layers and at other times the tear pulls the layers away from each other and they rip separately. The ripped edges created were beautiful, unique, fascinating. Soft and feathery and endlessly detailed. I decided to create windows and layer the sheets as the paper lent itself so beautifully to have the light box shine its light through the layers. The way this paper had been created meant that there wasn’t one direction which ripped differently from another. Next I created a mosaic of ripped pieces on the light box. I love the textures, the depth, the colours. This would look amazing as a textile print!
On the bottom left you can see how I have used tissue paper to create windows and layered 4 layers on top of each other on the light box. It looks like an extreme close up of an indigo tie dye project! The tissue paper ripped very neatly and easily in one direction and really badly and unevenly in the perpendicular direction. This shows that the paper was made by laying fibres in one direction only.
Tearing as compare to cutting produces results that are much less controllable and predictable, you’re never entirely sure where the rip is going to end up. Not so good if you need something cut very accurately! But the unexpected nature of the rip and the beautiful fluffy edges means that for some projects this has the creative edge over cutting materials.
Jackson, P. (2011) Folding Techniques For Designers; From Sheet To Form, London, Laurence King Publishing Ltd
Jackson, P. (2015) Complete Pleats: Pleating Techniques For Fashion, Architecture And Design, London, Laurence King Publishing Ltd
Wolff, C. (2003) Fabric Manipulation, Wisconsin, Krause Publications
Malachi Brown (2007) Vincent Floderer’s Origami, Online video at[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z6K4RLdodpY] Accessed 16 March 2020