MMT- Part one surface distortion-Project 1- folding and crumpling

Project one folding and crumpling

exercise one linear accordion pleats

I experimented with sixteenths, thirty- seconds, irregular folds, folded sixteenths cut when folded and then opened up, and also folded then opened up and cut.

I followed instructions from Paul Jackson’s book folding techniques for designers. [1] (Jackson, 2011)

For my first experiments I used plain white A4 copy paper. Folding the copy paper was relatively easy it creased well and kept its shape.

Linear folds A4 copy paper
Cut linear folds A4 copy paper
A4 copy paper

I then folded with a sheet of vinyl, leaving the backing paper on. When this was creased into folds it made lots of other creases appear horizontally making it look like it had been folded in the opposite direction as well. This gave a nice overall texture and interesting lines.


Folded cellophane – This folded easily but although the folds stay creased it didn’t hold its shape like the paper. I liked how the colour darkens when folding it. The layers of translucency build up to a more intense colour. The fold lines remain but the cellophane does not stay in the folded pleated position.

Cellophane and Holographic paper

Holographic wrapping paper – this didn’t fold very easily at all. It would not keep the fold or the shape. I tried gently heating the fold to set it with a heat gun, but it started crumpling and melting very quickly even a low heat. I then tried a small Clover iron on a low setting, but the result was the same. I think I would need some sort of backing on the holographic paper to give it some stability. I was drawn to try the cellophane and holographic paper as I liked the results achieved with these materials by Julie Waibel.

I decided to use the proto paper as a template and fold up the holographic paper inside it. I cut a strip of the holographic paper and laid it on top of a strip of the proto-paper and then use the perforations in the proto-paper to fold up into triangles. I used bulldog clips to clamp it in place and left it for a while to set. When I took the clips off the folds still didn’t hold their place very well so I re folded it inside the proto-paper and then use the heat gun to heat set it a little bit it did start melting rather quickly. One piece came out a little distorted, but the other piece came out better.

Crepe paper and holographic paper

Crêpe paper – it was very difficult to get a nice crisp fold with the crêpe paper, but the texture of the paper combined with the folding was pleasing to the eye as it looked like it had already been highly pleated. The paper is very stretchy though and it pings back into shape meaning the folds do not hold their place.

Proto Paper- I then had a play with some specialist paper I had bought called Proto paper. It comes with perforations, ready for folding, which I thought would make it easier to use. I tried various folds, creating different shapes, but I found it difficult to get a uniformed, repeat pattern. Most of my folding led to one off, unusual shapes.

Proto paper

I felt that folding paper would be easy, but, folding precise, even folds was actually very difficult. Even with the perforated paper I struggled to make anything balanced. Further exploration of this method could involve using fabric that can be heat set to keep the folds, or experimenting with stitch to hold pleats in place.

 exercise 4 incremental and twisted pleats

Again, I started with A4 copy paper to create twisted pleats which I held in place with staples. I created straight twisted pleats and curved twisted pleats. Visually, these are appealing. The copy paper held the shape well. I then used an A4 sheet of copy paper to create curved twisted pleats using a bone folder to emboss the curved lines, but the paper kept ripping when I then tried to crease it into folds. I then tried the holographic paper but this was extremely difficult to fold into twisted pleats. The paper would not keep its shape and kept springing back. I had to use staples and sellotape to hold the pleats/twists in place.

Incremental and twisted pleats A4 copy paper
Incremental and twisted pleats holographic paper

Inspired by artist Kyyro Quinn’s work with felt, I decided to use a sheet of felt to create curved twisted pleats, which I stitched in place. The felt is thick and holds the shape and curves very well when stitched in place. I think welt felting would hold the folds in place without stitching so that is something to experiment with at a later date. 

I used a piece of white felt and folded it the same way as I had the A4 copy paper to create twisted pleats. It was very hard to get precise folds due to the thickness of the felt and the fact that it is a little stretchy. I tried using an iron to set the pleats but that didn’t work so I used stitching top and bottom to hold the pleats in place. I then added another twist and secured in place. This created three twists on each fold, changing the direction each time.

Incremental and twisted pleats felt

 I cut six strips of felt and attached them at the top of a flat piece of white felt. I then made two twists in each strip and secured the strip at the bottom of the flat piece of felt. This created 3D twists that are separate from the bottom piece, except for the top and bottom which are held in place with stitch. I then made a smaller version using three thin strips of pink felt and a small piece of white backing felt. I stitched the three pink strips to the white base felt then added five twists in each strip and secured in place at the bottom by stitch. The twists hold well in the felt and keep their shape.

I then cut a long continuous piece of felt roughly a centimetre wide and cut a backing strip of felt 5 cm wide. I Laid the thin strip on the backing felt horizontally and then folded it back on itself creating a type of loop which I then secured with pins until I completed the whole strip. Then I stitched straight down the middle to hold in place.

I liked the felt because it was easy to manipulate, easy to keep in place and gave a good structural sample. I could take this further by using a better quality felt or making my own, and by using welt felting techniques to create the twists so that they are an integral part of the overall structure, rather than something separate that has been joined on.

 exercise five basic crumpling technique

I started with A4 copy paper and screwed it up into a ball. I opened it back out and repeated the process several times until I had a nicely crumpled piece of paper. The paper became quite soft and stretchy. I experimented with putting curved ribs into the crumpled paper. This was very effective in the copy paper it held its shape well and the play of shadow and light created extra depth. I crumpled cellophane and that held it shape very well too. I then created ridges in the crumpled cellophane. Where the ridges were created the cellophane became darker because the translucency is building up. Placing the cellophane on top of the lightbox allowed the light to flow through the piece creating even more texture and depth. I layered blue and yellow crumpled cellophane together and created ridges where the colours overlapped. This created a new shade of green with the light flowing through it. It looked quite dynamic. I then experimented with fairy lights underneath the crumpled pieces inspired by Julie Waibel’s lampshades. The yellow cellophane glowed like a piece of amber and it appeared very crystalline in structure.

A4 copy paper crumpling and ridges
Sketches of crumpled ridged paper
Crumpled, layered, ridged cellophane
Crumpled and ridged cellophane
Crumpled and ridged cellophane with fairy lights

I then crumpled some tissue paper which became very soft, delicate and very pliable. The ribs creased nicely into the paper just using my fingers. It was a little flimsy to stand up or to hold the shape, but the shape created was very pleasing. It reminded me of an insect’s body armour. Ideas for development could be to spray it with starch or coat it with a thin layer of PVA glue to get a firmer structure that would stand up on its own while still looking delicate?

crumpled, crepe paper, holographic paper and tissue paper

I folded the crêpe paper and crumpled that it gave a good texture that looked and felt like fabric. Because the papers pleated already and quite thick, the crumpling adds another layer of texture and it becomes very soft and fluid. 

The next crumpled piece I did was the holographic wrapping paper. The colour started to come off with all the crumpling, but the overall effect was very jewel like. It gave a crackled, iridescent sparkle and looked better without the lightbox behind it. It did not hold its shape and although the ribs folded into a curve, they also did not hold their shape for long. It looked like a Dragons wing.

I then use the crumpled A4 copy paper and moulded it around outside bottom of an egg box. The paper held it shape, but I didn’t find the shape that interesting. I then used the inside of the egg box and moulded the crumpled paper into that. When removed the two mountains held their shape okay. I decided to mould the crumpled paper around a 3D printed vase. The texture of the vase transferred very well into the crumpled paper and it held its shape. I then tried moulding it around a printed 3D limpet shell but that didn’t hold the shape at all. I then tried to mould the crumpled paper to my face. That was not very successful. The lips were quite defined, as were the eye sockets, but nothing else imprinted well into the paper. 

A4 copy paper moulded around an egg box
A4 copy paper moulded around a plastic vase, a plastic limpet shell and my face

Glassine paper- This paper is brown and shiny, stiff and looks almost waxy. (Brand name is Tim Holtz’s Glassine paper and it is used in scrapbooking and mixed media work). When crumpled however it becomes very soft and pliable and looks almost like a well-worn leather. The crease marks are lighter in colour giving it a tonal quality it didn’t have before. Although the crumpling makes it softer, it actually becomes a lot stronger as well.

Core-din-ations colour core cardstock and glassine paper crumpled

Core-din-ations colour core cardstock- This is a cardstock used in scrapbooking that is black on one side and coloured on the other. You can rub away some of the surface on the black side and the colour core will show through. Crumpling this card stock allowed a little of the pink colour to show up. I wanted more colour, so I took a paper filing tool and filed away at the creases revealing a deeper colour.

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