1.4; Sampling: Twisted Pleats

Since pleating interests me, I took it in two parts: Incremental Pleating can be found in my previous post. I looked forward to subverting the technique with Twisted Pleats.

SAMPLE 1.4.8 (a) & (b)

Starting with white copy paper, I made two samples with very subtle differences

(a) on the left, has pleats the same width as the spacing between them. It secured by folding the perpendicular edge under the sample (to the reverse)

(b) on the right, has much narrower pleats than the distance between them and is secured by folding toward the top.

The difference between the two sets of measurements was quite pronounced. I think the depth of the pleats in (a) caused it to curl and twist. At first I found this quite upsetting (because I was still in rigid mode) but actually it has an architectural, sculptural appeal that suggests stored energy. dscf3697The flatter sample (b) is a better vehicle for displaying the effect of a twisted pleat. Photographed from above with a directed light source the pleats seem to dance, I feel a real sense of movement when looking at them.

SAMPLE 1.4.9

The paper I selected next was much thicker, it was soft and pliable like fabric but was stiff enough to retain the pleats. I used a design similar to the Kyyro Quinn wall hanging I looked at in my research but whereas her stitching is invisible, I made mine a feature.

This paper didn’t fight the folds like the copy paper did, it is supple and more forgiving which means it lays almost flat. The twists are regular, first to the left then the right. The ripples remind me of marks left on the beach as the tide goes out, in addition the colour and slightly grainy texture of the paper also reminds me of soft sand. 

Lighting the sample has created a gentle ombre effect, in the fore the paper appears a rich, sunny yellow, which recedes to tan followed by a coffee coloured brown. This analogous palette is created by shadow- amazing when the paper is actually a dull buff!


I thoroughly enjoyed securing the pleats with rows of hand stitching: it felt good to be sewing, even if only on paper! I chose a beige linen thread to match the paper; the fact it blends in means that it doesn’t detract from the pleats. I like stitches that are functional as well as decorative.

SAMPLE 1.4.10

After the sheer joy of stitching the last sample I ironically decided to staple the next (below left). I used a fairly heavy cartridge paper, alternating the direction the pleats were secured formed twists.


The sample has rolled inwards, toward the pleats, in a semi-circular fashion. This was unexpected- I had previously observed quite flat samples (1.4.8 b and 1.4.9) and have included a photograph (on right) of 1.4.8 (a) where the sample twisted diagonally, from corner to corner. I would conclude the different effects are not only determined by the depth of the pleats but by the rigidity and thickness of the substrate.

Next, I soaked the sample in a tea ‘bath’; I had noticed on Pinterest people using staples for rust dying and thought I would see what happens. I predicted there would be a deepening of colour around the metal staples caused by rust and lighter areas along the pleats where the paper was pressed together and offered more protection from the tea.


At this point, I thought I had lost this sample! It came out of the tea, very soggy and fragile- as it dried it became much firmer and the pleats regained their definition. What didn’t resolve was the all-over brown colour, the sample unfortunately remained a solid buff colour. However it now had the soft suede-like appearance I have come to associate with rust-dyed paper.

I was curious to find out what was going on under the staples and in between the pleats, so I unpicked some of them. Doing this redeemed the sample some what: the staples have left indentations, pierced holes and a small amount of rust. There is lots to look at, if I ironed it flat it would be less clear how the marks were created, this could be quite intriguing. If I did do this again, I need to be careful when marking: the pencil lines (right) are a distraction.

SAMPLE 1.4.11 (a) & (b)

I decided to try alternating the twists in pairs and selected an envelope from my pile of scrap paper. The pleats are secured with tailor tacks usually associated with dressmaking; it strikes me now that staples may have been a more appropriate device?

The envelope behaved in a similar way to the cardboard in previous samples: it had a wrong/right side that tried to dictate which way the folds wanted to go. The double sided nature of the paper provides softness and pliability from the underside and strength and rigidity from the shiny outer. This combination of qualities and slightly different configuration of pleats has produced a sample that lies very flat.

I am generally not keen on the inclusion of printed text within Textile Art but I was able to appreciate the fragmentation of the address an postmark. I am a keen proponent of maintaining standards of handwriting in a computer driven society, so decided to copy the definition of pleating to explore my response to hand written text in my work.

I really like both sides of the sample, writing on tracing paper was a good choice because you can appreciate the marks from all angles. Whether upside down, back to front, reversed or fragmented by the pleats, the marks remain quite obviously writing but their meaning has been obscured. I am drawn into the sample by what remains of the words, I want to look closer, I want to figure out some hidden meaning. I think the fact the text remains in straight lines helps and adds to my understanding of it. I’m not convinced the machine stitched rows, which secure the pleats (and were supposed to emulate the light blue of lined paper) was the right choice?

SAMPLE 1.4.12 (a) &(b)

This sample came about because I was still thinking about Jiri Kolar’s ‘prollages’, I couldn’t shake the idea of looking at something from a renewed angle and it becoming something else. After a drive in the countryside, where I observed the changing of the season in multiple colours, I began thinking of the transient nature of Autumn in relation to twisted pleats.

I actually started my experimentation thinking about the relationships of colour, firstly analogous colour and them triadic colour. My interest in the secondary triad orange/purple/green was inspired by previous study of O’Keeffe’s landscapes. Sharpie pen has been used on tracing paper.

The sample is quite unsophisticated but provided a good opportunity for exploring the relationships between the colours as they twist into one another. A useful exercise with an uninspiring result.

I continued with (b), this time using Autumnal colours; I hoped the translucency of the tracing paper would echo the fragility of the leaves. I was really disappointed with the childlike and unnatural result (although not especially surprised given the materials I was working with!) However, when I looked at the photographs I was pleased, the highlights on the metallic areas draw them forward and shadow pushes the bolder colours back. At the same time the twists are mixing the colours so you see more of one and less of another.  

SAMPLE 1.4.13 (a) & (b)

I started thinking about the twisted pleats as channels, like boning in corsets. For both samples I used a narrow strip of laminated paper, one side red, the other orange. In sample a, left, it is encased in a tracing paper fold; in b, right, between muslin.

I was again disappointed, I liked my ideas but the materials I selected just weren’t right. My joy had gone. I had a sense that maybe I had pushed the technique of pleating too far! I had made so many samples for this exercise I decided: ‘enough is enough’ and moved on!


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