Exercise 3 knife and box pleats

I started the knife and box pleat technique with a straight forward white photocopy paper. I feel that with this technique ´less is more´. The measurements need to be precise to get the sharp lines, for maximum success. I have always struggled with being precise with my measurements and in following instructions but with this technique you have to; as if you are one millimetre out of line it can ruin the whole effect.

I followed the instructions in my manual and “voila” the effect is clean and sharp, no surprises! I am sure this technique will come useful at some point of my journey as a textiles practitioner but for now… I am not “wowed”

I tried again in grey cotton. I find working in paper much easier than in fabric. I again followed the instructions but this time pinned the lines and then used the iron to apply some heat to the fabric so the pleats stay in place. This worked well, I guess it would work better if I applied some starch to stiffen the fabric.

The pleats give the fabric more strength so it is easy to create a 3D shape – turning a flat piece of fabric into a potential sculpture.

Exercise 2 Rotational accordion pleats

We have all done these pleats at school or nursery, creating aeroplanes when bored to send each other messages was a great past time. Here I am again!

This time I am exploring the different effects resulting in when I make the pleats bigger or smaller. When I make the pleats smaller the paper becomes more flexible like an accordion.

At this point I don’t think I have invented the wheel or anything, I feel that I am almost going back to basics and exploring the basic techniques that I have taken for granted. The pleats turn the paper into a 3D structure allowing it to be shaped and even stiffened so that the structure can stand alone. I still feel like I lack imagination at this point, as the rigid rules of this technique restrict my creativity (or so I thought!). I ordered a book to inspire me. I looked at Paul Jackson´s work and straight away I was inspired.

I decided to try pleating baking paper. The waxy feeling of the paper locks the folds nicely. The paper is thinner allowing the pleats to become even more flexible. I played with different structures and began to enjoy the simple shapes, effects and movements this technique was presenting me with.

Exercise 5 Basic crumpling technique

Another technique that I underestimated!

I started by crumpling some orange card. This very quickly transformed a rigged card into a softer and pliable texture. I enjoy the supple, softness and flexible qualities that crumpling has provided me with. It is very soothing to the touch.

I experimented with ribs as my manual suggested.

Above; Ribs radiating from a single point.

Above: Circular ribs

I then started embossing my samples to my face and my hands, this became very exiting as I realised I could emboss almost anything. I tried cups and pens just to see the difference effects and outcomes.

Samples of my face and my hand.

Embossing the rims of cups in tissue paper and foil. The foil breaks very easily. I prefer the effect with tissue paper, it seams to work better as it is more pliable.

Linear crumpling -sculptural forms. This process allows the peak to stay upright and firm.

Folding Techniques

After researching artist like Julie Waibel, Grace Tan, Iris Van Herpen and Neri Oxman I really wanted to experiment and learn the art of folding. I began by looking at various tutorials on YouTube and started by folding a rectangle (the image below). I carried on with baking paper as I know it works well. At this point I am learning a new technique so until I became familiar with it there is no point of becoming very adventurous. I have a habit of trying to run before I can walk, not really possible with this technique as precision is of upmost importance!

I repeated the triangle folding process seven times more and then I stitched them together to arrive at a repetitive structure.

I then folded that structure following the folds I had previously created. The structure became more interesting as the sheets of baking paper were transform to a form, a 3D structure a miniature sculpture.

Above; variations of the same sample displaying the many forms and shapes this sample can achieve.

I also experimented with twisted pleats this time with organza, I have experimented with this technique before in ideas and processes. I became very familiar with this technique. I enjoy the lines and the rhythms in movement the twisted pleats can create. In the samples below I painted the pleats in two contrasting colours to be able to see the effect of the twisted pleats better. I found this was an excellent method to represent some of the effects that nature can create – an example: ripples in the sand.

A stiff material works well although saying that, the moment you do the pleats it tends to give a floppy material structure and form. I experimented with calico and a photocopy of a map.

I tried to experiment with metal crochet wire but you couldn’t appreciate the twisted pleats so the effect was a bit of a flop.

Above: I experimented with the twisted pleats on fabric. I think the pleats are not as clear because of the added detail on the fabric.

project 2: Tearing and cutting

Exercise 2 cutting edges: I experimented with gutter net, as this was rigged and stiff but also bendable also easy to cut.

Below: Experimenting with a meandering cut. This creates an interesting surface, like mountains and valleys. If I join a few samples together it creates a repetitive surface and a pattern that I enjoy. It would be more successful in a fabric such as felt.

Above examples of how you can achieve different surface patterns with this technique.

It seemed a shame to leave this exercise without exploring it further with a more exciting material. I experimented with copper sheets as it is a medium that is easy to cut and to bend while also having the benefits of retaining it’s shape without too much fluffing about. I was able to see clearer the different forms and variations in shape.

Above; I couldn’t resist doing some tearing/cutting from the edge of a copper sheet. I love the colour of copper and how the light reflects on it resulting in beautiful hues. This method is very effective, it’s a good way of creating movement.

Slashing and cutting paper and dipping it in watered ink,

Cutting trips of paper from the edges I then rolled them in to mini rolls and joint them together to create a larger surface. I am trying to push the original and simple methods and add some of my ´voice´ adding an accent of colour by dipping my sample into ink.

I feel that I haven’t even scratch the surface of what can be done with these techniques. Sadly at this point I am restricted by time and I need to continue with the rest of the exercises. I am happy with the opportunity to explore and familiarise with these techniques. Many of them are new to me or I simply haven’t been able to explore as I considered them to be “to basic”, little did I know.

Above: a meandering method was used with the gutter net – this time attaching them together in a half flower effect.

Back to folding again!

My book has arrived so now I can practice and explore some of the folding techniques shown in it. I went back to the accordion pleats and with the baking paper I made ten mini fans and joint them together creating a pattern, combining an inverting them consequently. This combination resulted in an interesting outcome.

The sample can change it’s shape as I stitched it together where the folds join.

This was a happy accident and one that has resulted in one piece that can morph in to several shapes – examples below –

Above; I did a fan in copper. so simple but yet so effective. I think I am in love with copper.

Above; I tried some smocking on baking paper, keeping the materials raw and basic achieving an organic look – that is unusual for me as normally I use so much colour. With these folding techniques I feel it’s all about the shape.

Above; I cut triangles in cardboard and glued them on card to create a repetitive surface. This would look very cool in felt or leather.

I couldn’t resist practising the multiple Vs technique, I love it! It took me a while as it is very time consuming! This is definitely a technique I will use again.

I tried in copper, the lines are not sharp enough as I was doing it with my fingers (no special tools). To be able to achieve a perfect line and sharp edges I would need the right equipment but as an experiment I like it. I like the light and the shadows that the V shapes in the copper create.

Above: I carried on experiment folding only selective parts of my card. I really enjoy the effect. I can change the shape of the form by simply attaching the back.

The same method in leather. Doing it with leather was very hard as I had to keep applying heat to retain the shape.

I then tried with foil, very frágil but I liked the sharpness of the lines.

Below: Box spirals, this was fun and easy. If making a few and joining them I could make a very cool surface. I first experimented with one of my crumpled card samples and then I tried it with some gold shinny fabric – both worked well!

below; I tried a technique called Glide reflection it’s meant to be a “basic concept” ha!

I could not get it perfect, after hours of trying my card got all floppy (lost it’s stiffness) and I just had to put it down. I was trying for hours. Any way! I still like the effect, I think it is still interesting. I may of made up a new technique… just don’t ask me to repeat it.

Above; more folding techniques, this time with mirrored card. I am really getting addicted to these folding techniques.

I also experimented with spiral pleats, these are so much fun, very versatile as they can be made in so many variations. This is one I came up with, I could play… I mean experiment with these all day!

Above; an experiment with folding grey cotton in triangles, it needs to be tidier but I enjoy the idea.

Above; I stitched together some strips of gold glittery fabric in zig zags to create a textured surface, you can’t appreciate it in the photo as the fabric is not an opaque colour or maybe it’s the case of it not contrasting with the fabric in the background.


What have I learnt so far about surface distortion through cutting, slashing, folding, and pleating? I have learnt that everything is posible, that you can transform a sheet of anything (nearly) into a form, a 3D form or sculpture. I have learnt that for these techniques to be successful it’s better to use a stiff but bendable medium and the simpler the better. I have also learnt that it’s best to use some sort of protection for your hands when using copper sheets as my hands are full of blisters. I feel that I have only scratched the surface in these techniques and I still have much more experimenting to do but for now I am happy with the chance I have had to familiarice with these techniques. Doing these samples have helped me look and appreciate lines and shapes and has forced me to look at these in more detail.