Getting started: Project 1, Folding and crumpling

For this first part of the course we are instructed to choose 10  exercises from a selection provided in course notes to work from and make, record and select from a series of samples. Diagrams were provided to guide us and we were to experiment with the techniques using different weights and types of materials.

Project 1, Exercise 1, linear accordion pleats.

The course instructions state: ‘Accordian pleats are A series of evenly spaced folds in a surface. The alternating mountains and valleys are usually the same width.’

I started with plain paper and practiced regular accordion pleats and then progressed to using other weights of paper and card. I was suprised to find that although tissue  paper did not hold pleats in a ‘crisp’ ‘sharp’ form it did hold them on a more fabric like way. My favourite samples were the ones that used materials with their own surface texture.


Various basic Accordian pleats in different weights of paper and card. It such a simple exercise but nice to revisit it. I had forgotten how satisfying pleating is. Sadly I am not sure that I have achieved anything worthy of persueing further at this stage, they are just not interesting enough. The form is just too basic. It could perhaps be made more interesting by exaggerating the surface texture.


More Accordian pleats, this time in lightweight tissue papers. I like the way these take on more fabric type folds. These are to me much more interesting although a little floppy I can see these translating into muslin or similar lightweight material, especially with stitching along or across the folds.

I attempted to sketch accordian pleats in my sketchbook to try and understand them further this did not go terribly well, I am not a confident drawer as my tutors will attest to but I tried to show the direction of the folds:



My selection of Accordian pleats to be sent in to my tutor. I chose these as I fund them more interesting visually than some of the plainer examples. Some are regular, some irregular. I especially like the sample in printed paper; although normal accordian pleats the change in angle used is interesting.


Accordian pleats in brown paper rolled into a cylinder. Quite an interesting form but again it would need careful surface texture to make it something more interesting.

Exercise two – Rotational accordion pleats.

I progressed through this exercise in the same way as experiment one. Using plain paper then following up with other weights. I found it quite hard to keep the pleats radiating from a single point. More practice required I feel!



The resulting samples are more interesting to look at than the linear accordian pleats and they make for a more varied form by distorting the shape of the paper. I tried to draw these pleats in my sketchbook to help record them:


I think this is a slightly better sketch than the first showing a better idea of light and shade but I really do need a lot more practice.

Exercise three – Knife & box pleats

Starting the exercise in paper using the figures the course materials as a starting point, I then moved on to using other weights of paper and card experimenting with varying the length and width of pleats both regular and irregular. I also tried making them into cylinder shapes as suggested.This gave them another life as it were and the viewer another view point.


My favourite sample in this selection is the larger white sample. It was pleated one way then turned and pleated in another direction adding texture and form. I may try developing this into a stitched sample using pleated fabric.



Exercise 4 – Incremental & twisted pleats

Of all the pleating experiments I did this was my favourite. The finer incremental pleats remind me of some of Issey Miyake’s pieces in his ‘pleats please work’.



These pleats remind me strongly of the detail on victorian pintucked dresses and smocks. I really enjoyed working the twisted pleats, especially the samples at the bottom of the photograph above which was worked in different directions.

Exercise 5 – Basic crumpling technique

This section took me a lot longer than I expected. I had started this section of the project using plain A3 paper. This turned out to be quite difficult to  work as it was a little too stiff. I then tried newsprint. This didn’t hold the crumples very well especially later on in the samples where I tried moulding the paper over formers. I started again with some stiff but lightweight white paper that the baker who delivers to work uses to line his trays. This worked beautifully – thank goodness as I was beginning to wonder if anything would work to my satisfaction!

Once I had found a suitable material I was away and really enjoyed this section of the project.  I created some really nice samples which I am really pleased with. I am making sure that these have all been carefully photographed as I am am not sure how they will travel to & from my tutor and assessment!


Crumpling – single rib, I find this quite a dramatic sample. It has very high relief areas against medium relief and areas that are only a little crumpled.


Crumpled, with multi ribs. This sample was a little more determined and controlled that the previous sample giving it a very different feel.


Crumpling – multiple ribs. This was a different version from the one above. It did not have the very crumpled appearance and I don’t feel that it was as sucessful as the first version.


Crumpling – ribs radiating from a single point. I quite like the form this creates I feel it would work well as a ‘patchwork’ of multiple pieces attached together somehow.


Crumpling – embossing egg cups, This sample worked really well and has quite an exciting texture to it. I would like to be able to re-create it in fabric or perhaps use it in more of a sculptural way with a hard material.


Moulded over objects. This sample reminds me of a rough gnarled tree. The crumpled paper was moulded over a roll of brown parcel tape.

Exercise 6 – Linear crumpling technique

I liked the results of these exercises so much that I decided that rather than re-use the same piece of paper each time I would use a new piece sometimes so i can keep the samples for future reference.


Linear crumpling. This took a lot longer than I first thought, to get enough pleats to be effective I had to scrunch up the paper multiple times.


Linear crumpling – short ribs. Again this sample was quite controlled and deliberate. I do like the texture created and I think I will use this method again in the future.


Linear crumpling – sculptural forms. This sample was again sculpted over a roll of brown parcel tape to achieve the forms. Once again it has a very natural gnarled form.


Linear crumpling, multiple ribs. I love the movement in this piece. I would loveto see it developed into some form of hanging sculpture.


Linear crumpling, moulded around an object. In this case a roll of packaging tape. Again I really like this sample and can see a lot of possibilities.

Exercise 7 Rotational crumpling technique

Of all the crumpling and pleating tecniques I tried during these projects these are my favourite results. I particularly like the rotationally pleated sculptural forms. I ended up with a visually & textural exciting samples that I would like to investigate further.

Rotational crumpling – spiral ribs




Rotational crumpling – sculptural forms. These are my favourite samples from this section. I can really imagine them developed into natural looking sculptures or vessels with stitching in between the pleats.

2016-02-07 15.38.49

Linear pleats enhanced with stitch between the pleats. A development of the previous samples using plain printer paper and embroidery threads.

The fine pleats caused by the rotational crumpling remind me very strongly of the pleated dresses produced by Fortuny in the early 20th Century. The picture below shows an example of this held in the V&A’s collection:


  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Italy (designed)
    Paris, France (retailed)

  • Date:

    ca. 1920 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Mariano Fortuny, born 1871 – died 1949 (designer)
    Babani (retailer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Pleated silk, silk cord with beads

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Fr. Sebastian Bullough

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Dress - Delphos

The ridges created also remind me a little of some of Jean Drapers’ work where she uses stich to create textural textile pieces.

Jean Draper Uses whip stitch inspired by study of Indian tribal work to achieve rich variation of 3D quality and surface tension. The textile relief panels are inspired by rock formations in the US South West and are often coloured with the earth and clay and sometimes containing words about the place. The latest free-standing forms are based upon arrow and spear heads or columns of rock achieved by coiling techniques:   Google Image Result for

I am going to follow up this work developing it into fabric and stitch as I am actually quite excited by it. I would also like to try stiffening the fabric to make scuptural forms that could perhaps be used outside or indeed inside as pots / vessels? Only a vague idea at the moment but worth investigating.


About Julie Hooker

Having recently returned to my roots in Surrey, I am currently studying a BA Hons degree with the OCA. My work is often inspired by the local countryside in the beautiful Surrey Hills area and the wild rugged nature of the North Cornish coast. Steam engines and abandoned industrial history are also recent themes. A free machine embroiderer and felt maker; I like to explore the use of natural, found materials to create my art, whether that be as raw materials to stitch or weave with or as a material with which to produce dye or print with. Previously, I completed City and Guilds parts 1 & 2 Creative Embroidery at the East Berkshire College in Windsor in 2007. I was also awarded first place in the wearable art section of the National Quilt Championships 2008 and 2009 held annually at Sandown Park.
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