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.

Local Research

I was lucky enough to attend Carol Ann Eades studio during the annual open studios this year. I took part in a shibori workshop with her as part of the ‘threads connect ryde’ project last year and I follow her on instagram and love her work. Carol Ann uses shibori, Indigo dyeing, rust dyeing and eco printing in her work and is currently Artist in residence at Ventnor Botanical Gardens.[1] This year Carol Ann was collaborating with artist Hannah George [2], a community artist who works and designs with folded paper. Together they were using Hannahs folded works as templates for Carol Ann’s indigo dyeing with beautiful results. The folds were made into the paper and then fabric was folded into those templates before clamping and dipping into the indigo vat.

Photos courtesy of Carol Ann Eades
work by Carol Ann Eades and Hannah George

Photos courtesy of Carol Ann Eades
work by Carol Ann Eades and Hannah George
Photos courtesy of Carol Ann Eades
work by Carol Ann Eades and Hannah George

I was very interested to talk to Hannah about her work due to the nature of part one of MMT- folding and crumpling. Hannah took the time to talk to me about her creative process, the materials she used and also pointed me in the direction of specialist paper that has perforated fold lines making folding a lot easier. Her new works on display consisted of beautiful folded flowers and seed pods with geometric designs. 

Work by Hannah George
Work by Hannah George
Work by Hannah George
Work by Hannah George

Hannah has also used her paper foldings as moulds to cast designs in concrete. I believe she works alongside her husband who creates artificial rock pools (Vertipools) and bio tiles for the marine environment, at Artecology on the Isle of Wight. [3] I will definitely be looking more at this work further on in MMT for the Moulding and Casting section.

Photos taken from the Artecology page, link 3 below
Vertipool, texture exploration for tiles and sand casting with paper art to create moulds

Talking with Hannah also led me to and

Please do check out Carol Ann and Hannah’s work by following the links below, two very inspirational and extremely helpful artists! I have also included a link to Artecology as their work is also well worth checking out, whether from a design standpoint, an ecology one, or both.

[1]       IG- @Carolanneades

[2]    IG- @hgmakings

[3]   IG- @artecologyltd

Part 1 Surface Distortion- Research

Textiles 1: Mixed media for textiles

Part one Surface distortion Research

Link 1: Anne Kyyro Quinn

A Finnish designer who works in the UK, specialising in textiles for interiors and large scale wall and art installations. She has a very sculptural approach not normally seen in textiles used for interior design. She works mainly in felt to create her three dimensional pieces and they have a great deal of visual and tactile appeal; I would want to run my hands over them to see if they feel as good as they look. Her large installations are very dynamic. The use of folding and pleating on such a large scale works well to capture the organic forms. I’m not sure they would be so dynamic at a smaller scale. The pleating and folding produce areas of shadow and light which highlight more deeply the delicate structure of the pieces. The wavy texture of her Laine design shows really well how these shadows enhance the look, making the curves appear to ripple. The wool felt seems to be a good material to use as although it is soft and supple it is firm enough to hold its shape once folded or twisted into the design. The solid colour on some of the pieces gives the designs an aesthetically pleasing look- the pattern and texture is created by the folds, pleats and twists, not by any pattern on the material. Her rosette design is particularly striking with the different colour felt on the inside which adds more depth and enhances the 3D quality. The designs look complex and striking, a textile engineering feat, but actually on closer inspection, there is a simplicity to the actual structure. It is when repeated at a large scale with the light creating tone and shadows, that it becomes a complex piece of design. Several of her installations have been designed for private cinemas, where the shape and structure remind me of the sound proofing materials found in music studios, maybe this was the idea, but I found that quite clever. I would imagine from the images that I have seen, that viewed from a distance, her work could be mistaken for an intricate, geometric printed wallpaper. How wonderful to then move in closer and realise that it is in fact, a very tactile, 3D textile structure. While looking through her website I thought that all her installations were so very apt for their surroundings. [1]

The work of Anne Kyyro Quinn

Link 2: Giles Miller

Giles Miller studio creates surfaces, sculpture and architecture, “Celebrating the relationship between materials and light”   in a “fusion of technology with the handmade” [2]

First impressions of this work were; highly textured, repeating patterns, geometric, graphic, simple yet striking, large scale and combination of different materials like wood and metal working together.

Very clever designs that involve the play of light as part of the design process. This must take real talent to be able to ‘see’ how the materials are going to interact with the surrounding light so that the design works as it was intended. The combination of materials, for example, the matt of the wood and the shine of the metal work well together to play off of the light sources. The texture of neutral tiles shows up different tonal qualities and shadows which enhances the 3D effect. The installation in a lobby in Guilin City, China, entitled Lotus, is made up of tiles shaped like lotus leaves in various neutral hues;black, silver,grey, gold and white. They depict mountains and lakes of the area. It very much reminds me of the sequin trend that appeared last year where you brush the sequins one way for one image and the other way for a different image.

One of the architecture pieces, ‘Perspectives’ in Winterfold forest, Surrey, is a structure made of cedar shingles which have messages engraved on them. At first glimpse it looks like a wooden dome with vertical, overlapping shingles.On closer inspection the shingles appear more horizontal and thrust forward at different angles, totally changing the overall look. It’s a very striking optical illusion on a large scale. I also really liked the piece, ‘Conduit’ for its innovative and structural design. It’s surface structure can be moved to create an open or closed structure. It stands out on the landscape but also weirdly, blends in due to the clever use of the materials;wood, slate and dry walled stone. One of my favorite pieces of work was a feature wall for Sheraton Hotels which uses hexagonal ceramic tiles, laid in opposing directions so that they catch the light differently and create images of stags.

I really enjoyed looking at this work as I found it very innovative and creative. The way the pieces are put together, so they create optical illusions is very clever. A lot of the structures are in nature but the way they reflect the light or mirror the surrounding area really helps them to blend into their surroundings.

Looking at how light plays on the materials might be of interest in the next stage of surface distortion. 

The work of Giles Miller

Link 3: Grace Tan

To be honest I was a little overwhelmed when looking at this artists work. She has created such a wide variety of work from huge installations to smaller textile pieces, using a wide range of materials, methods, applications and styles, that it didn’t feel like the same artist had produced all the works. Some of the concepts behind the works were a little difficult to decipher because of the ‘arty’ way in which they are written. I am not far enough into this course to be able to decipher some of the art speak and I sometimes find it a little over the top and it gets in the way of simply enjoying the work. The works were very interesting to look at though and I liked ‘Currents’ which was “Inspired by the notions of flow and circulation in nature”. [3] I liked this piece because I always see nature as a spiral of energy, growing, dying, growing again and this spoke to me of that swirling energy, moving between its surroundings, ebbing and flowing in harmony with the natural world. I also liked the piece ‘Symmetry’ which is a sculpture made up of mathematically correct geometric tessellations. It was inspired by Islamic art and architecture. The simple shape repetition creates an intricate, complex pattern that looks very striking.

Although not all of her works spoke to me, I can appreciate the attention to detail and the very complex design process used to create these pieces. What I did really like was her ethos of working intuitively. “…The paper and pigment constructions are a result of an attempt to seek deeper dialogues with the materiality of the chosen media …staying true to the fundamental ethos of working intuitively with the hands, to allow the medium to guide and formulate new methods in the process…”  [4] In the past I have made clay and driftwood sculptures and I always say that it is the driftwood that tells me what it wants to be, I think it’s something to do with allowing the shape, feel and energy of the piece to dictate what it becomes if that makes sense?

The work of Grace Tan

Link 4 and 5: Jule Waibel

Just wow! I watched the video first of her making her pieces and I was mesmerised. She has created undulating, organic, stretching and retracting pieces of wearable art. The pieces expand and retract upon movement of the body which I found utterly amazing.  The process of working out the pattern for folding and then the folding itself is so intricate and precise but creates these fun, funky clothes. A true feat of textile engineering! On her website, her collections of fashion are more tame than the pieces used in her fashion shows but still show her ingenious folding and pleating methods, just in a more wearable way. She uses holographic and transparent fabrics which adds a totally new dimension to the pieces. The transparent items create a softer, gentler look, a more organic, flowing line which defeats the crispness and precision of the folds and pleats. The holographic materials gives even more definition of shadow and light because of the way the colours change, accentuating the folds and pleats. Two very different fabrics, used with great skill to enhance their properties. The appearance of items is changed dramatically by her clever use of graduating colour and tone. Other items on her website were lampshades made from cellophane and holographic foil. The light from the bulb inside makes these pieces come alive, sparkling, giving them a crystal like effect. She also makes sunglasses, bags, homeware and does large installations. I felt very excited looking at her work, it made me want to start folding and pleating to see if I could create something that expands and contracts! I’m not sure I would have the patience for anything so precise or large scale but her work has certainly inspired me to have a go at a few samples.

“I’m dreaming of an unfolded universe, a pleated planet. Everything should move, expand and contract-geometric, playful shapes are dancing around the moon.” [5]

The work of Julie Waibel

Link 6: Mathias Bengtsson

“Mathias Bengtsson has always described himself as a designer, but his works are closer to fine art than to traditional industrial design. Working with diverse industrial materials and processes, Bengtsson pushes forward the sculptural, technical, and philosophical possibilities of three-dimensional design.” [6]

Thoughts on this designer were varied. On one hand, I liked the organic table and chairs from his ‘Growth’ series- the patterns and forms of the natural wood had a lovely flow to them which I found very gentle and calming, but I didn’t like them when they were cast in bronze, I felt it took away all the natural qualities which made the wood ones so nice. They looked more like they were melting metal rather than something based on a natural form.

Some of his pieces were a little too abstract for me, that’s not to say I can’t appreciate the art of the work, just not really my cup of tea. He does use very clever methods of layering the materials to create innovative designs. I can see similar effects could be investigated with torn layered paper. The ‘slice’ designs look a bit like a cross section of the item or contour lines on a map, building up the topography of the hill.

The surface designs and patterns he employs enhance the shape of his pieces, sometimes the pattern does the work for him- the design is simple but it is the pattern that brings it alive.

The work of Mathias Bengtsson

Link 7: Cai Guo-Qiang 

I had never seen this mans works before. He has a very different and unique approach to his work. He uses cut stencils and gun powder to create  his drawings. The gunpowder is applied through the cut stencils and then he lights a fuse and POOF! The gunpowder ignites leaving a scorch pattern behind which becomes the drawing. He says in one of his Youtube videos “destruction and construction” which is exactly what this is. He uses fire ‘medicine’ to create these pieces.

He also uses fireworks to create shapes in the sky, like his ‘footprints of history’ he designed for the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympic games. He uses digital mapping software on a computer to work out the placement of the fireworks.

Both approaches to his art use hundreds of people to pull them off and are huge scale operations. In my humble opinion, a lot of work and manpower (he seems to design the original drawing then other people cut all the stencils) to create work which has a momentary wow factor. After the gunpowder explosion, when the drawing was revealed, I didn’t find the work that amazing actually. A lot of hype in the video and extreme measures for pretty unpredictable and mediocre results. 

In ATV I used incense sticks to burn and scorch holes in paper which this reminded me of on a much larger scale of course. [7]

The work of Cai Guo-Qiang

Link 8: Louise Nevelson  (the link listed was infected with a virus so I couldn’t open it)

Louise Nevelson was a sculptor who assembled found objects together, creating huge sculptures which were then normally painted all in one colour. The pattern and texture is created mainly by light and shadow.

In her white piece, ‘Water’, the found objects all have curves and soft lines, suggesting an organic structure whereas in her piece ‘Luminous Zag:night’ which is painted black,  the found objects are mostly pieces of saw toothed wooden beams- all straight lines and angles, giving it a more structural and architectural feel.

By painting her works all one colour she unifies everything so that the individual parts of the assemblage no longer stand out, or are seen alone, but rather they all come together as a whole, completely changing the overall look and meaning of the pieces.

 “Nevelson struggled to gain recognition for many years but eventually achieved success during the 1950s, creating dreamlike constructions that evoked dramatic cityscapes. She built boxes and walls from dismantled furniture, ornaments, and scraps of wood that she found on the street, and often painted them in single colors to emphasize the effects of light and shadow.” [8]  

 “Often made from found wood — carpentry tools alternate with wooden relica — those works are painted entirely black or white so their minutiae coalesce and, fully integrated, the objects ascend like postindustrial totems or statuary for a bygone religious sect. Their abstract innerworkings — resembling crates, joints, banisters, handles and pilings — seem embedded into one another, as if supernaturally unified.” [9]

The work of Louise Nevelson

 My own research

Deepa Panchamia

Deepa Panchamia makes wearable art, fabric sculptures and installations. She specialised in constructed textiles at Nottingham Trent University. 

In her piece ‘Complex Simplicity’  she uses hundreds of squares of different white materials such as cottons, linens and silks. They are all hand stitched together. The different hues and textures (some transparent, some heavier) of the materials create a “…delicate and sensitive surface of light,shadow and reflection.” [10]  She uses pleating and folding, cutting, stitching and layering to create intricate 3D pieces. I particularly like her piece Myriad which is made up of over 6000 rectangles of various white materials, sewn into 3D rectangles of various heights. The light plays off each of the individual rectangles, creating almost a mosaic cityscape, lit up at night.

The work of Deepa Panchamia

Chung-Im Kim

Chung-Im Kim worked as a surface pattern designer. She now lives in Canada and is a freelance designer and associate professor in the fibre department at OCAD University. She has exhibited all over the world.

She uses felt to create geometric grid designs. Some are all one colour, playing with the light and dark to create shadows while some have patterns on them applied in various methods such as stitch, screen printing and burning away parts of the surface to create the pattern. It’s the patterned works that drew my eye. Quite simple patterns but very striking when combined with the softness of the felt and the hardness of the geometric lines. [11]

The work of Chung-Im Kim

Liz Sofield

“Textile art on paper and ceramics using the simple beauty of folding, hand stitching or crochet”. [12]

Liz uses origami folding techniques combined with stitch to create geometric artworks which show her love of rhythm and pattern. She also employs the use of origami with ceramics to create her origami porcelain pieces.

I really liked the use of stitch on top of the folds. It has a duel purpose of holding the folds in place and creating another level of pattern design. It reminded me of those thread patterns we used to make in primary school- embroidery floss wrapper around nails that had been hammered into a piece of wood, to create a pattern. The whiteness of the pieces is striking too- they look clean and crisp.

The work of Liz Sofield

I also looked at and made a pinterest board which has hundreds of inspirational images and links on it. I also have another Pinterest board which I started when doing ATV which is all on paper and stitch.













Other Artists I researched

Sally Blake  newer work on Instagram, including her stitch on paper work  

Nava Lubelski

Gillian Adair Mcfarland

Jiyoung Chong

Karen Margolis

Liz Sofield

Leisa Rich

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