Yesterday I took a trip to Potters Bar, Enfield to visit Ciment Pleaters. I had used this company a long time ago to pleat some rubber for me and to my regret I have never had the time to visit the company and see how pleating is actually done.
I was welcomed by Terry and Geraldine Weinert and as they weren’t to busy took the time to show me exactly how to pleat fabric and the thousands of different patterns that exist, some dating back 60 years and all made laboriously by hand.
If it was a surprise that the patterns were handmade, it was an even bigger surprise that the whole process is hand crafted. They do have a few machines which make basic pleats but anything with the sightest bit of intricacy cannot be automated.
I asked Terry if it would be possible to pleat my Transylvanian sacking cloth as looking at the intricate patterns, it seemed likely the fabric would be too heavy to respond to this delicate method. He suggested we try there and then and so followed an amazing lesson in pleating documented below in images.
At this point Terry bound the work together ready to put in the steam cupboard however this fabric had a lot of resistance, being very heavy and kept ‘popping’ it’s bindings. Instead Terry decided to steam it by hand on the industrial press.
Here are some of the other card and paper patterns from the Ciment archives.