Re-working part 1




imageFollowing my tutor’s feedback for Part One I have reworked one of the samples in recycled brown wrapping paper. My tutor felt the printed papers I had previously chosen were too distracting. Looking at the work now I can see that the form is still sharp and clear, but without any print the light interplay is far more apparent.



Additional crumpling

Looking through the art doll research I had collated in my sketchbook I had a go to see if I could make paper replicate the snow-bleached sealskin and gut used by Helen Slwooko Carius.

I was pleasantly surprised by the crumpling effect on white paper and white greaseproof paper.


I finished with some sketches of the crumpled paper on the drawing app:

Crumpling and folding research

I mentioned in my previous post that the last thing I looked at before bed was my treasured copy of ‘500 Handmade Dolls’. Usually I lust through this edition bemoaning my lack of skill and wishing that one day I too will have skills worthy enough to create something somewhere near these pieces of art. I am talking Art Dolls here – not toy dolls. There is story to this.

Just after I left school, I remember watching the Animated Tales version of Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’ then going to see an exhibition of these puppets at the soon-to-be-built Globe Theatre. I was smitten. Yet life, work, family and other doors (walked through and closed) meant this simply rested in my mind as one of those moments when you realise that someone somewhere else (in this case the puppets’ creators and animators, the Russian company: Soyuzmultifilm Studios in Moscow ) sees It as you do. It felt like an aesthetic twin maker existed. Someone who was able to create while I was able to observe. I don’t think that yearning ‘to be able to make something like that’ ever went away.

Then, while going through a very difficult part of life I heard the story of ‘Vasalisa the Beautiful’. It is a Russian Fairy Tale similar to Cinderella and it too holds a lot of symbolic meaning. It is full of potential psychological teaching. In it the doll given to Vasalisa by her mother saves her from the witch Baba Yaga by comforting her, offering her guidance and doing tasks, all from the hidden depths of Vasalisa’s pocket. The story struck a chord then and offered me much sustenance. What would Vasalisa’s doll look like? How would the Russian puppeteers envisage her?

Many years later this led to me finding myself on a short weekend course at Derby University called ‘The Healing Art of Doll’. I had never heard of Art Dolls before and what I discovered were dolls that bore closer resemblance to talismans, charms, metaphors in material. We explored what doll-making was and created our own Healing Doll, which we then used to narrate its own story. I found myself in the company of therapists, art doll makers, artists, psychologists, writers…I cringed at what my hands produced. I blindly believed that when I told the doll’s story I would be narrating something ‘of no great significance to me’. I assumed I was just following instructions. I was very wrong. I found it very scary what came up. I did my usual and stuffed this all into the back of my mind in the hope it would all go quiet again. I felt frustrated at the talent that surrounded me and the poverty of skill I felt in this company.

However, I did learn. I learnt about old old tales having psychological truths, I learnt of Clarissa Pinkola Estes and her work, I learnt of Jung and his work from a very skilled and wise Jungian Therapist who I met on the course and we immediately felt we had known each other even though we knew we didn’t. Both of us professionals, both learning, both finding much to talk about and share. I relish those moments when for a journey or a workshop, or a standing in a queue minute, you make a deep and profound connection with someone that surpasses what would otherwise be mundane small talk. Then your paths move on and you are both changed. I think this feeling is what Anthony Gormley hopes for when he says, in a recent interview by the Irish Times (6.1.16), ‘Sculpture is the most challenging and resilient of art forms. It is the greatest agent of change of all art forms.’

Bringing me back to the dolls. Normally, I perceive them as sculptures: soft, fibrous, clay, metal, natural-fibred, artifical, found or otherwise. But I decided to look through my book at what the artists had to do to the material with which they were working to effect change. I had a ‘folding and crumpling’ filter on. I found 6 artists in particular who use this surface manipulation in their work. I have recorded these observations in my sketchbook for fear of copyright infringement!

What was significant to me were the Traditional forms made by these artists: Helen Slwooko Carius who was a St Lawrence Is. Eskimo, and Dolly Spencer an Inupiat from Alaska (one of her dolls can be seen here). They used skins, hides and furs in a traditional manner for the clothing – and these materials are crumpled and creased further to the processes they undergo in changing from being part of an animal to a material to work with. This could bring up the whole argument about animal products, but I have a leather armchair, albeit a beaten up one, so I cannot make any comment on this without being accused of being a hypocrite or worse. Their work must influence Mary Ellen Frank – and my research reveals that Mary Ellen was indeed a student of Dolly Spencer!

Elisabeth Flueler uses crumpling in her paper wrapped forms that seems ethereal and iconic. For example, her work that is featured in the book, ‘Become or Pass’ is almost Egyptian in its stature and poise, the crumpled paper contrasting with the porcelain smooth figurine.

And to conclude…

…what serendipity: I had to take my children to a club this morning and found that being unable to deal with crowds I did my usual – struggle for half an hour, find a book shop, then hide in a museum if there is one. This found me in the Bentliff Art Gallery in Maidstone Museum. Their temporary exhibition that concludes on the 20th of this month was ‘The Magic of Masks and Puppets’! Sometimes the world is kind! The curator gave me permission to take photos for my sketchbook. Seeing these live, hot on the heels of my recent thinking, is a bonus and means I could see the effect of crumpling and pleating and folding on numerous fabrics from around the world in the context of my initial point of inspiration! Puppeteers work included: Ian Turbitt, the design studio that created the baby-on-the-ceiling for the film ‘Trainspotting’, The Rostove State Puppet Theatre Russia, Javanese Wayang Golek puppets, 18th Century ‘Ningyo Joruri’ from Japan, and my favourite Rajasthani Marionettes from North India donated in 1948 from the Haim Raj Puppet Company.

This picture won’t flout any discretions but it did feel a little odd looking up the skirt of the Rajasthani Marionette to get this picture. Why is this of interest? Because the figurines which are made of mango wood, wear skirts under their costume that denotes the number of puppeteers who have owned them!

Now to see how this feeds into the pot of inspiration and creation!



‘500 Handmade Dolls’, ed Valerie Van Arsdale Shrader, Lark Books, 2007, pgs,91, 266, 277, 294, 300, 316

T1: MMT; Pt1; Pj1: Ex 5 & 7

Before commencing the crumpling exercises I had a look at other paper artists and book artists who use this technique. I found the French paper sculptor Maryse Dugois via Pinterest who makes creations in silk paper inspired by nature. Her pieces are tanslucent and numinous- the light plays over the white expanses of paper that has all been manipulated. The range of her work is inspiring and encouraging. there is always space for a new voice – a new vision even using the same process and material. I was drawn to her pieces that make use of crumpled paper, namely ‘Home’, ‘Coeurs de Lotus’, each tube in ‘Ruche’ and ‘Bernique’. The crumpled surface helps the eye travel over the whole surface drawing attention both to form and texture.

Then, in ‘1,000 Artists’ Books’ I found a fascinating piece by Kirsten Demer. This piece, ‘Frustration’ played on my mind overnight. The text describes the piece as, ‘Cooked, beaten, and hand-sculpted handmade kozo paper cover, with an interior of original text on handmade kozo sheets typed with vintage typewriter. I sketched it then left it to play in my brain.

My resulting samples today for these exercise are clearly influenced by this piece.

First, ex 5: the basics.

I chose a packing tissue paper – slightly thicker than gift-wrap tissue.

I played with the techniques explored by the figures in the course notes. I varied the materials used and worked with each piece until the fabric lost its togetherness of creasability. I loved crumpling the tissue, it constantly reconfigured itself and surprised me with the forms it made. Every moment I thought it would provide no more, it revealed another potential surface.


Using a technique I picked up at the Cas Holmes’ workshop I attended the weekend before last demonstrated by another participant. The process was to continually crumple paper in your palm but moistened with oiled hands. The only oil i had on the house tonight was hair- smoothing oil. Using the sacrificial dictionary and this oil I crumpled and massaged this paper, making a series of surfaces, pushing the material until it became as soft as cloth and thereby became too smooth (or crumpled) to leave any further fold lines.

After this I went back to white printer paper. I really didn’t like this process with this material. The paper was too unyielding and creased more than it crumpled.

I then moved on to Ex 7 and chose brown wrapping paper as the first material to transform. I couldn’t get this piece to stand freely on its base, but curiously it was free-standing on the points!

Having worked with fairly unyieldy fabrics I moved to plastic and raided the recycling. Working with a plastic carrier bag I was initially frustrated by the handles and cut them off. This gave me a far more manageable form to crumple. I rotated and spun and twisted then crumpled this bag. It was quickly turned into a more opaque shade of its previous translucent self. Again I was puzzled to find the bag collapsed in on itself or fell over when orientated on its face. I therefore staged various angles from which to view it and photograph this sample.

On to colour. This very thick wrapping paper had surfaces of different colours. It crumpled like circular bellow and formed a container type structure. There was a cabbagey feel to the piece too. The crumples up close reminded me of the images of the Earth’s crust crumpled at impact zones from earth tremors and earthquakes. I liked the solid crumpling in contrast to the feel of the other samples. However, I don’t think I would have appreciated this contrast if I had not experimented with a range of weight materials.

Finally to the finest plastic i could find in the house: nappy sacks (there is a story behind the stash of this – something to do with mis-ordering 100 bags which turned out to be 100 x 100 – my youngest is in High School – perhaps they’ll serve the next generation!).

I loved the gentle whispiness of this material when it had been crumpled but felt a real aversion to the colour. On the one hand it is the hideous puce, then it reminded me of condom-pink, then it looked like those shots of the inside of alveoli or inside the umbilicus.

Finally, I continued to research. I looked at contemporary art dolls. This time I looked at the fabrics they were made from. this offered a different way to look at these works. I will collate what I found in the next post.


‘1000 Artists’ Books’, ed. Sandra Salamon, P & D Thomas, Quarry Books 2012, pg 68

MMT: pt1; pj1; ex1: day 2

I thought I had laid these pleats to rest last night. But breakfast found me fidgetting!

Changing scale again I went to teeny tiny. Tearing a page from a flower/bulb brochure that came through the letter box I was curious what impact tiny pleats would have on the colour. Sample 26 & 27 were folded in accordion pleats and then this bundle of pleats was folded. I made the mistake in sample 26 of having an odd number of pleats in the final stage which meant the paper folding lacked what I had anticipated (which was the bridge of the Samples 21 &22). However, this did highlight for me the impact of odd versus even quota of pleats should it become required of a design.

Sample 27 I folded on the diagonal again, thinking back to the research I did yesterday on Zoe Bradley. I liked how the torn edges seemed tufted in contrast to the sharp folds. The impact on colour was minimised in 26 & 27, but sample 28 felt more painterly, removing the photogrpahi feels and creating a more abstract interplay of colours.

Thinking this would be it for the sample making I looked at some more paper artists to see how they were using folding and what boundaries they were pushing. I am very aware that with such a simple fold there must be a limited number of original possibilities, but with each added element the possibilities increase. Though research seemed to contradict this. Each artist very much having their own voice, purpose and process.

I recorded this time in my sketch book as ideas quickly leapt from ‘Paper Orbs’ to the work of Yuko Nishimura (I have created a new MMT board on my pinterest to try and record at the speed of my thinking). The precision and flat, symmetrical quality of his work contrasted with the ‘Paper Dolls’ pleated chaos (Bea Szenfled). This chaos of course made me recall Einstein’s thoughts on folds in space/time, which then leapt to wormholes and geometric forms.

I played with folding paper then creating mobius strips to see how they rested. This ‘twisted cylinder’ had less unpredictability than the spiral samples from yesterday.

These tangled forms quickly surged into looking at other non-orientable surfaces including Torus and Kline Bottle  forms which I recorded in my sketchbook diagramatically. On the way there I found the artist Matthew Gardiner whose work ‘Light and Time Folds are Space’ is a large scale installation that shows his concern with the kinetic properties of folded forms. He is more mathematical and symmetrical than I would ever wish to be, but his video of the installation shows his light work too which makes all the tones change as the light moves over the piece like the sun. He is interested in DNA origami – the folding and binding of DNA, and has coined his own term for the work he creates as ‘Oribotics’.

Working in paper on this exercise has allowed me to work with forms that are self-supporting and maintain their pleats. Where next? It would be worth investigating what fabrics can hold a pleat without further intervention of heat (ironing) or hold (stitches). The simpler the investigation the more surprising the results it would seem.


‘Paperplay’, Gingko Press, 2014 pg 16

Pleating inspiration

Zoe Bradley unites the sculptural quality of paper with fashion, she works by hand with the precision of a tailor. The works I have looked at are exaggerated in scale. The trains and head-dresses of pleated monochrome paper rustle without walking.

‘On/off’ has the appearance of a bridal dress- the pleats in the skirt and bodice reminding me of my diagonal sample in the previous post. These are layered almost like scales as much as ruffles. Platform 21 belies gravity, its train lisps up like the tail of a mermaid, again the linear accordion fold worked on the diagonal form most of the dress, but as they move to the tip of the ‘tail’ they seem to take on a rounded rather then creased look – the light playing on the black paper creating curves as well as creases. In 2005, another white dress graced Liberty’s windows. This time the pleats are made with the line of the paper edge (it is difficult to tell whether made horizontally or vertically). Interestingly this creates a much gentler silhouette that seems more ruffled and rouched.

Interestingly in the artist’s profile on her website there is the statement that the: ‘paper dress grew organically from hand pleating large pieces of paper.’ Her paper dresses continue to evolve and will be, ‘shown in more of Sotheby’s markets, including Paris, Milan, New York and Hong Kong throughout 2016’. Whilst the pleating has been replaced by laser cut ruff and hand folded ruffles her work continues to transform the space they inhabit and add drama to the dress again.


‘Paper Cutting’, compiled by Laura Heyenga, Chronicle Books, 2011, pg 32-33


MMT: pt1; Pj1; Ex 1: accordion pleats

And we’re off…

The first thing I did on receiving the course notes was email my tutor with my introduction. Then I had to read through Part One and ‘earmark the exercises that appeal to you, either because the materials sound interesting and inspiring or because the technique intrigues you.’

Alongside this you are asked to commence research into artists who are know for their surface distortion.

I have made my selection of exercises as a plan of action.


Commencing with Exercise 1: Linear Accordion Pleats.

I chose this because these folds/pleats seem simplicity themselves and I wonder what mysteries they hold. Often the simplest process can divulge the greatest mysteries. A mystery to me is revealed as a series of possibilities rather than answers.

I looked around at the materials I had to hand and started exploring this pleated playground. What does it feel like in crisp white printer paper? What happens when I look at it from another angle? When I bend it? Shape it? Then explored different materials to see what changed and what seemed to stay the same.

I was also conscious when recording the samples to explore creating a paper/card studio for photographing samples. Alongside this have been my initial research into the process of accordion pleats(seem also to be known as ‘concertina’ pleats/folds with book artists).

The samples first in order of production (tap on each image for caption):

Simple forms, crisp clear, clean, balanced array of light and dark zones. Next to experiment with a shaped paper outline. Then a paper cut-out – both positive and negative shapes. Sections pleated after cutting – pleated cloud-like area with erratic spacing of long and narrow accordion folds. Interesting that they don’t reassemble after.

Then on to spirals cut from a square of paper. Experimented with folding before and after cutting. After gave a very curved fold and the shape was much more fluid. Folding before kept the rigid pleats and the whole form seemed more architectural.

Then, played with spirals for some time. After that folded a wide accordion pleat on A4 paper and tried to create a triangular prism. This worked against the pleat softening edge, yet the ends almost enveloped themselves.

Experimenting with diagonal linear pleats. This was very severe and reminded me of lots of paper sculptures that have a wintry feel. Explored the contrast between folded and unfolded areas on the same sheet of paper.

Moving on to other materials: tin foil. To create the cylindrical form O folded the tinfoil double then pleated it. This enabled the structure to be self-supporting.

I had some strange rubbery packing material that had protected the ends of a package so was springy, spongy and thick. It bent easily yet refused to hold the pleat. Seen form the side it has almost disappeared. Yet from the surface the crease line is predominant.

To contrast with the above experiment: folded a bubble wrap envelope – it maintained the fold long enough to take a photo and then had no memory of the distortion. I was surprised at the plastic freezer bag though which held the pleats and gave sharp creases. The corrugated cardboard had a good pleat memory, yet wouldn’t crease uniformly or sharply.

Then changing the scale to very thin old dictionary paper and very small narrow pleats. I loved the effect here. The pieces needed to be teased apart after they had been creases so I had control over the fanning effect. I preferred folding along the line of the text as it gave a new account of the page to read and highlighted and hid areas simultaneously. Folding vertically broke the text down into what appeared to be a series of code. I then experimented with pleating the pleat. This gave a great sculptural bridging feel – again somewhat architectural – this is an area that could be worked further.

Using the book page naturally took me to look at the work of book artists and research how this fold it used in the book arts. As seen in the Bibliography below there is much advice, gallery works and step-by-steps available for this type of fold in the book arts. I settled to look at the work of Hedi Kyle and also played with some book folding techniques that I learnt when I was at primary school – I have made many many mini books with these two folding techniques since. I particularly like the spin and envelope feel that was created following Kyles’ tutorial in the Penland book. Endless experimentation here!!

For accessibility I will record the artists’ I have looked at so far in another post. So far I have found much to inspire from paper artists and book artists- there is much available on accordion bindings (sometimes referred to as ‘concertina’). There is a common interface for me between paper and surface manipulation in textiles. After all, in Japan shifu paper is used to weave ornate fabrics that have the fineness of silk which then create kimono. As a little aside here, I think the Japanese word for ‘accordion pleat’ is ‘jabara-ori’ as ‘ori’ stands for both pleat and crimp.


‘The Art of Manipulating Fabric’, Colette Wolff, Krause Publication, 1996, pg 111-114

‘The Penland Book of Handmade Books’, Lark Crafts, 2008, pg 116-135 (Hedi Kyle)

‘Making Handmade Books’, Alisa Golden, Lark Crafts, 2010, pg 103-120

‘Paper Cutting’, compiled by Laura Heyenga, Chronicle Books, 2011, pg 32-33