Part 1, Stages 2&3, Project 1, Exercise 4 – Incremental and twisted pleats

13 September 2016

Project 1, Exercise 4 – Incremental and twisted pleats

Throughout this exercise, I referred to “Folding techniques for designers” (Jackson, 2011:78-79). A full citation is given in the reference list at the end of this blog entry. I also discovered the work of Anne Kyyro Quinn, who folds and sculptures with felt (including several examples using twisted pleats). I have discussed her work in detail in the research section of this assignment.


SAMPLE 1 – Incremental concertina pleat – symmetrical

I used an A4 piece of printer paper, 75gsm, to make a simple concertina pleat, symmetrical about the centre fold. I initially found it rather uninspiring (see below)

I then thought about presenting it in a different configuration, folding the long edges to touch each other and forming a tube with an interesting profile (see below):

Again, I could imagine several of these side by side to form an interesting surface, or the profile used as a shape to inform a pattern design.


SAMPLE 2: Incremental concertina pleat, asymmetrical

This sample is similar to sample 1, in that the pleats become progressively larger the further away they are from the central fold. However, these increments are not symmetrical, which gives the sample a rather irregular, ungainly feel.

Placing the long edges adjacent makes a tube with an asymmetrical profile (below).

I can’t really put my finger on what I like about this shape, other than that it’s irregularity must have something to do with it’s appeal. I find myself wanting to imagine a shape that I recognise in the profile (maybe a curled up animal?). It looks delicate, precarious, fragile, free-spirited, accidental, unexpected.


SAMPLE 3: Incremental knife pleats, A4 paper

Using the A4 printer paper, I worked incremental knife pleats. Each pleat fold was 0.5cm. The distance between folded increased by 0.5cm from right to left. 

Laid flat these small pleats do not seem very exciting (above), so I rolled the sheet to form a cylindrical tube (below). 

In this configuration it seems more dynamic, reminding me of fan blades, or perhaps turbine blades in a jet engine, getting progressively smaller. The circular shape definitely suggests rotation to me (and therefore movement).

SAMPLE 4: Incremental knife pleats, triangular paper

Again, A4 printer paper was used, but before pleating, a very pointed isosceles triangle was marked on the paper. After pleating the paper was unfolded and the triangle shape cut out before re-instating the folds.

I wanted to make a variation of the example suggested by Jackson (2011:79), so I used small knife pleats, with incrementally larger spacings between them. Whereas Jackson’s incremental concertina pleats formed a layering pattern when folded (resting vertically above each other in a stack), mine instead formed a flat(ish) sheet (see below)

This should have been expected, but was unexpected, because I hadn’t thought through the consequences of making the pleated so small. 

Next, I rested the sample on one of it’s long edges (see below):


The sample came to life! It looks like a reptile’s tail, whipping around in angry response to disturbance. Movement is suggested and the point implies tension (is there a sting on the end of that?)

SAMPLE 5: Incremental pleats on a large scale

I used the largest piece of paper I had to make this sample – a sheet of A1 180gsm cartridge paper. I pre-scored the paper using a scissor blade to get clean, crisp folds.

I photographed the sample from both sides under a spotlight (see below). 

My initial thoughts were that the sample was rather boring. I think the problem is that when folded, the sample isn’t really large scale enough to have a dramatic impact. Ideally, I would have liked to use a huge piece of paper the size of a room.

The sample did have stiffness and a structural feel about it, so I started manipulating it to see what interesting shapes I could produce. Using some masking tape to make a temporary joins, I formed the sample into the “Christmas tree” shape (see below):


However, the sample wasn’t rigid enough to stand upright on it’s own and flopped over. This was interesting because there was tension in it’s precariousness, and a suggestion of balance. It reminded me of childrens stacking blocks. I wondered if was was also slightly phallic.


SAMPLE 6: Twisted pleats

Using an A4 piece of printer paper, I made a series of pleats Ready to test them in different configurations/positions (see below)

Although the course notes suggested different methods of fixing the pleats, I found that simply folding over the ends was sufficient, having the added advantage of enabling the sample to be reconfigured without damage, so it to be viewed with the pleats in different configurations.

First, I secured all the top edges of the pleats in one direction and all the bottom edges in another. All pleats were twisted, and all in the same direction (see below)

There is a feeling of movement in waves and unity of travel due to the pleats all being twisted in the same direction. As a piece, it feels uniform and calming.

Next, I tried pairs of pleats folded away from each other at the top of the sample, towards each other at the bottom (see below). As before, all pleats were twisted. This configuration gives the illusion of the inter-pleat spaces being larger when the pleats are splayed apart and narrower when they are folded in towards each other. It feels like a series of interlocking shapes have been formed. Because the pleats are facing in different directions there a lack of unity, even a feeling of separation which makes this sample less calming.

Finally, I laid the pleats flat in a random manner, some being twisted one way, some the other, with no rule or pattern as to whether they were adjacent or not. I also allowed some pleats to be folded in the same way top and bottom, meaning they were untwisted (see below).

Funnily enough, this sample does not feel particularly different to the previous configuration, which has a definite pattern. 

SAMPLE 7: Twisted pleats, small scale

Looking for different materials to use, and wanting to make a small scale sample, I decided to try the pages of an old dictionary (thin, smooth paper). I tore out a page and divided it into four, then folded the paper over at the base to secure the end of the pleats in the same direction. I liked the effect of leaving the other end of the pleats unsecured, which enabled the piece to fan out (see below).
The resulting sample is enticingly delicate with crisp, precise folds. The shadows are pronounced. When I ran my nail over the ridges of the pleats they made a “clicking” sound as they flicked backward as forwards (rather like flicking through the pages of a stiff book).
Unlike the sample where I used gardening catalogue pages (project 1, exercise 3, sample 6), I felt that the text added to the appeal of this sample rather than making it appear muddled. This is possibly because the text is arranged in lines, so has an element of order. I wonder whether a very different effect would be generated by folding perpendicular rather than parallel to the text?
I wanted to examine the effect of manipulating this sample, so I stood it on end secured by Blu-tack (see below).
It looked like an miniature fan/peacock tail. The toothed shadows were interesting too. And looking from a different angle…
And from above…..
Next, I laid the sample on it’s side and curled it over in an arc shape…. 
It was amusing to see that the definition of “cami-knickers” was in a prominent position (by luck not design!) It shows how the inclusion of text could be manipulated to highlight certain phrases or meanings relating to the piece.
The image below works very well compositionally because it is off centre, and being a small object in a big space adds a sense of isolation to the sample as well as focusing attention on it. 
For some of my other small samples I have suggested the possibility of making lots of them and arranging them in a group. An alternative presentation to consider a sample an an individual item which perhaps makes more of a feature of it’s small size and is appropriate, if the sample is sufficiently interesting in its own right.
I decided to draw this sample, but I purposely omitted the text because I wanted to concentrate on the outlines and shadow (see below):
Because I’d used a 6B graphite pencil, I sprayed the sample with hairspray to ‘fix’ it. I hadn’t anticipated that this would result in a ‘softening’ of the lines ild made with the ‘sharpie’ pen, although I really like the result. I am pleased that this simple image represents the crisp sharp folds and soft diffuse shadows made by the sample.

Jackson, P. (2011) Folding techniques for designers: from sheet to form. London. Lawrence King.


2 thoughts on “Part 1, Stages 2&3, Project 1, Exercise 4 – Incremental and twisted pleats

  1. Inger Weidema

    Lovely work. I did some of the same pleats (also with book pages from a dictionary) – very jummy to work with isn’t it? They knew how to choose good paper. I hope to post tomorrow on my pleats. This is super inspiring šŸ™‚



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