Part 2, Stages 2&3, Project 1, Exercise 5 – Forming corners and angles

21 November 2016

Project 1, Exercise 5 – Forming corners and angles

The instructions suggest starting with stiff paper and straight edges and moving onto curved edges. After exploring joining to create corners and angles, the notes then ask for 5 to 6 samples developing what has been done in the project so far. 


SAMPLE 1: Paper, right angled corner, oversewing

For this sample, I decided that I would make a simple join between a strip of paper and a right-angled corner. I used 3-strands of embroidery cotton to sew the two pieces together using an oversew stitch. I had to take care to make the stitches sufficiently narrow, so as not to make a large seam (which would have been a problem when I got to the corner).

As suggested, I started making this sample in reasonably thick paper (180gsm), but found that it was very difficult to puncture and I ended up pricking my thumb and getting blood on the sample. I abandoned this idea and switched to inkjet printer paper (75gsm) which was much easier to sew. The finished sample is shown below:

The join is stable and quite decorative. I didn’t worry about making the stitches neat and even – I worked them in a contrasting thread because I wanted them to show. For me, the piece has the feel of three-dimensional patchwork. It reminds me of mending and folk-art. It would be interesting to work a container (such as a box) in this way. 


SAMPLE 2: 180gsm paper joined at an acute angle with masking paper

I was able to use the thicker 180gsm paper on this sample because it wasn’t stitched. Using masking tape, I butted up the edges of the paper until they touched, then secured them (see below):

The join is almost invisible and stable, due to the thickness of the card. What appeals to me about this join is that it is very precise. I enjoyed arranging the sample in different positions (see below):

Different shadows, and hiding the inside/point gave a sense of mystery. I preferred this sample to the right angle of sample 1. By varying the widths of the paper strip, making multiples of the sample, and perhaps changing the scale, I can imagine some interesting possibilities for development.


SAMPLE 3: 180gsm paper, right angled corner, tie-wraps

I used food bag tie wraps for this sample. Before making the join, I used an office hole punch to make holes which I could thread the tie-wraps through. The finished sample is shown below:

Considering that the holes were oversized for the diameter of wire, I was surprised to find that the join was only slightly less stable than samples 1 or 2. The holes added to the decorative effect, as did the twisted ends of the wire (most evident from the exterior view, shown in the top photo).

Alternatives to the food bag tie wraps might be length of coloured wire or plastic cable ties. The reason I chose not to use bare wire was because of the sharp ends.


SAMPLE 4: Inkjet paper, forming corners with a curved edge, joined using machine zig-zag

I cut a curved piece of paper (convex) and a second, right angled corner piece (see below), which the aim of joining the curved piece around the sharp corner.

Awkward joins are something I have had experience with in dressmaking. Frequently, collars have curved edges which need to be fitted around straight edges and corners. Binding shirt cuff openings is another extreme (and technically difficult) example.

I started by butting the edges up against each other and sewing across the join to make a flat seam (see below):

However, when I got to the corner it was not possible to bend the paper around without tearing (I’m sure it would have been possible with fabric). So that I could complete the sample, I cut the threads, folded the paper, and rejoined the other side of the right-angle. Instead of butting up the edges, I had to overlap them (see below)

I hoped that by using a narrow zig-zag, I would be able to stretch and open out the seam flat, however this edge had to end up being an overlapping seam. The finished sample is shown below:

It is difficult to see, but the curved edges have the effect of lifting the right-angled paper up and not allowing it to lie flat. The join is secure, but there is nothing particularly interesting or inspiring about this sample.


SAMPLE 5: Acrylic felt, forming corners with a curved edge, machine straight stitch

I used the same shape pieces as in sample 4, but this time in acrylic felt, not paper. I used the technique of clipping the curved edges of the felt, which allowed me to shape it to the contour of the straight edge and corner during sewing (see below):

Below are some views of the finished sample. 

The image above shows the seam on the outside. In the two images below, the sample has been turned inside out and the seam is inside.

This sample reminds me of the shape of Napoleon’s hat (or Bicorne). I can’t say I’m especially inspired by it.


A series of five or six samples developing what has been done so far:

I feel that this addendum to exercise 5 should really have been an exercise in it’s own right. It is not related to corners or angles, rather, it is about building on and developing samples with potential, and perhaps exploring interesting combinations. It is an open invitation for the student to explore whatever interests them and to showcase their creativity.

Having completed literally hundred of samples for Parts 1 and 2, I was beginning to feel ‘sample fatigue’. I had been disappointed with several of my samples in project 2, exercise 4, and with some of the samples at the start of this exercise. I had felt torn between the range of material combinations and joining methods I wanted to try, verses the limited time available.

It was at this time that I learnt that I should be focusing my sketchbook more closely to the techniques in the assignment. I changed approach and started producing a sketchbook which developed some of my ideas. I have used this sketchbook work to inform my next five samples.


SAMPLE 6: Padded fabric sample, horizontal mattress suture

This sample was based on my investigation of suture stitches (sketchbook, pages 13-16). I decided to try the horizontal mattress suture (continuous). I used double knit merino wool (quite thick because I wanted the stitches to be visible), and joined two padded layers of polystyrene foam enclosed by brushed cotton. I had to glue the cotton onto both sides of the polystyrene, to make sure it stayed in place as I sewed. The results are shown below:

Of all my samples, I perhaps find this the most disappointing. I had hoped that the stitching would ‘dig into’ the padded surface and make an interesting relief, but it did not. The join was stable when the pieces were laying flat (top photo), but when folded, the sample became unstable and the joining thread became visible (bottom photo). Perhaps there might be circumstances where this could be used decoratively? However, I don’t find it visually appealing in this context.


SAMPLE 7: Rail tickets joined at right angles by friction

This sample was inspired by my sketchbook work on construction toys (sketchbook pages 33-34). In particular, it focuses on a method of joining where slots cut into each piece of material are pushed together and held in place by friction (see below)

I am aware that I perhaps don’t make as effective use of found materials as I might, so this sample was an attempt experiment. I found that the card was not really thick enough to maintain a stable join and the structure only just held together. However, I find the fragility of the sample appealing, reminding me of a tower of playing cards. I felt that this was interesting enough to make another sample joining circles (see sample 8).


SAMPLE 8: Card circles joined at right angles by friction

I used 270gsm card this time, which was thicker than the rail tickets in sample 7. I started by joining three sets of two circles and have included a photo because I think they are appealing as a group of separate identical objects (see below).

The beauty of these structures is their simplicity, the shadows they create, and tonal differences across the surfaces. 

Then I came to joining the three structures. It was surprisingly difficult to get my head around where I needed to place the cuts. I had to make the new joins shorter than the original ones, or the vertical circles would have got in the way. The completed sample is therefore only symmetrical in one plane (see below):

I really like this sample and I’m sure it could be developed into a more complex structure or surface. It find it rather architectural and I can imagine it might form the basis for the design of an office workstation or desk complex, because it has open areas and partitions. Alternatively, it could be seen simply as a visually interesting sculpture or surface.


SAMPLE 9: Textured surface made with paper loops

This sample is a development of the Möbious strip from project 1, exercise 3, sample 14, and draws on the work in pages 35-38 of my sketchbook. I had always felt that the original sample had a huge potential. I loved it’s simplicity, the tonal differences of the curved surface and the visual effect of having one side plain and one patterned. 

In my sketchbook work I have considered different potential materials and different arrangements of the shapes. However, the staggered arrangement which I liked preferred in my sketchbook did not work in practice. This was because there was not enough space for the loops in this configuration unless they were widely spaced, which spoilt the impression of a continuous surface. I therefore fell back on arranging the loops in a grid.

I wanted a paper which was patterned one side and plain the other. I did not have enough of the envelope paper I had used in my first sample, so I decided to take some map paper and paint one side with acrylic paint. Once it was dry, I cut out the strips and made the paper loops. I had to be careful that I twisted them in the same direction. When I came to glue them into the board, I made sure that I stuck them together at the same point in relation to the join. It would be interesting to explore different twist directions as sticking points, however for this sample I wanted to keep the effect regular and uniform (see below):


I am pleasantly surprised by this sample. The map surface is partially visible, and this varies depending on the direction from which the surface is viewed (see below)

I feel that there is a lot of scope for exploring alternative materials and patterning (some of which may give even better results). I can imagine this sample being made into a textured fabric wall panel.


SAMPLE 10: Strips of printed paper joined radially with a brass fastener

This sample was based on project 1, exercise 4, sample 11, and the subsequent development work in pages 1-12 of my sketchbook. Because I had liked the effect of the eraser prints (sketchbook pages 4-6, 9-10, 12), I decided to use them to make a textured surface (see below):

I cut out strips from this paper and joined them in the fashion of the prints on page 4 and 5 of my sketchbook. In contrast to the sketchbook work, my paper sculpture was moveable and could be positioned as I liked it. Perhaps better was the fact that in response to being picked up, the pieces moved under the effect of gravity and made new and unpredictable shapes. 

My first photo (below) shows of the sample laid flat on a white surface and arranged in a way which I found appealing. Unlike the prints on pages 4 and 5 of my sketchbook, I decided to allow the card strips to overlap. This was visually appealing.

The photo below shows the sample lifted and suspended vertically from one point using barely visible dressmakers’ polyester thread.

The sample now looks more creature-like (perhaps the strips even resemble fingers?). There is a suggestion of balance and tension.

I then suspended the sample from three points and photographed it again (see below):

The difference in negative shapes which occur is interesting, but this arrangement leaves me feeling it is rather contrived, whereas the previous one felt more natural.

I like the effect of the patterned paper which I have used. It suggests a fractured image and there is pooling of light and dark areas resembling patterns or folds and creases on an animals skin, or alternatively light and dappled shade.

There is potential for further exploration based on this sample, however my slight misgiving is that it is two and not three-dimensional, so I feel that ultimately this might limit it’s interest.


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