Playing With A Different Fold

These are some studio shots of folded and compressed paper structures that I have been playing with. Architects have used this methodology for some time now to generate new structures. The same can be applied to sculpture, hence my interest.

At the moment I am treading on well trodden ground trying to understand what is possible from folding, however I am finding that it is a good way to open my mind to new possibilities for creating forms.

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A Lesson in Hand-pleating

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.

First the fabric is placed between two scored card patterns which lock exactly on top of each other. The patterns are weighed down and the fabric between gently manipulated between the card.

The whole piece of work is then gently accordioned together.

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.

The next stage was to take the fabric from the cardboard casings and steam it directly.

The fabric is compressed further between two slats of wood.

The final piece after about half an hour instead of two days doing each pleat individually with a domestic iron!

Here are some of the other card and paper patterns from the Ciment archives.

This is for a Tudor ruffle and is 60 years old.

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Pleating and Folding

During March and April I was working in Beijing for a month. One of my many challenges was how to make sculpture that was, cheap, transportable, reflected my experience of China and achievable. I had to re-think my methodologies completely and during ‘Burn Paper for Ancestors’ I considered paper structures printed with images of my ancestors. I considered displaying then burning them as part of an exhibition. I rediscovered my childhood interest in paper folding to create tessellated shapes digitally printed with domestic images I had taken in Beijing Hutongs and pictures of my deceased family.  Although these proposed works look completely different to my existing work, thematically they shared the same interests as previous works. They also fitted all my criteria for working in a foreign country and have opened up an exciting new body of work.

These are the first folds I started to work with and I could begin to see their potential as sculpture.

My next concern was the images. What would they be and how would I splice them alternatively?

I decided on using an image from the Hutongs that I had taken a few days previously. As I was not privy to the interiors of these unique Chinese homes  I became interested in the domestic items they publicly hung out in the street. From rugs to rubber gloves these small parts of day to day life gave me an insight into the environment the locals live in.

I also asked my mother to send a photos of some of our dead ancestors, namely my father and grandparents. I decided on this photo of my father in a climbing hut in the 50’s.

With the help of Hedley Roberts, via Skype we were able to splice the images using Photohop in the pattern of the folds.

Once folded this creates the final piece.

I have since made some very large pieces for the Professional Doctorate show in June 2010.

In the last week I have found some very interesting material I wanted to experiment with. It is Transyvanian sacking cloth and each village in the area has a different weave so that sacks of grain can be easily identifyable when they go to market. The profits from sale of the cloth go back to the villages to continue the craft. Besides this the material has great appeal to me. I responded to it’s texture and properties immediately and wanted to make something from it. The following images are the beginning of playing with it and seeing what it will do.

I stitched the back of the piece to secure the desired shape as being a concertina it likes to move around and change a lot.

The final shape.

It is extremely laborious to do this by hand with an iron, even though I have made this fold quite a few times now it is easy to get ‘lost’ and go completely wrong. It is for this reason I am off to Ciment Pleaters in Potters Bar to discuss having the pleating done mechanically.

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As a fashion designer I became frustrated with the limitations of designing clothing around the standard female body and in 2008 I began to experiment with pattern cutting ‘garments’ that joined disparate objects together. The result was my first soft sculpture and a completely new direction for me creatively.

These ideas are concerned with the engraftment of fashion with furniture and also with an element of performance and the ‘wearing’ of the sculpture.

‘Ercol Easy Jodhpur’ 2008

I have a collaborative partnership named ‘Conjoin:me’ with Hedley Roberts in which we make work within our respective areas of interest but to some degree outside our normal practice.

To date we have produced sculptures and installation which we exhibited in Tokyo in 2009 and are preparing new ideas for a show in Malaysia in July 2010.

‘Sofadress1’ Conjoin:me 2009

Currently I have another branch of work based around paper folding which I developed on a recent month-long trip to Beijing to teach at Tsinghua University . The themes are similar to those of the soft sculptures, however the fractured, tessellated images, digitally printed onto paper have a more ephemeral appearance.

‘Peter and the Hutong Rugs’ 2010 (seen from right side)

‘Peter and the Hutong Rugs’ (seen from the left side)

Content-subject matter and conceptual position

I am currently concerned with themes from my childhood, the politics of the female body and the domestic environment. My work has been and will continue to be autobiographical visiting the physical, emotional and sensual landscape of my early life whilst incorporating elements of design, costume, sculpture and theatre.

My aim is to create assemblages that are a metaphor for my past, my present and my future. These will be totems to my survival of, boredom conflict, family life and a new understanding of my creativity.

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