2.5; More Sampling: Creating Flaps

SAMPLE 2.5.5

In exercise 2.4, I produced some samples using corrugated card, I really like this material because it offers structural properties and at its core it has an interesting pattern that can be revealed by cutting holes-or flaps.

I took my inspiration from Lisa Rodden’s Kaleidoscope series (here), this is one of my favourite of her designs, I find myself quite ‘drawn in’ to the complexities created by the crossing flaps.

This sample works well for me, I like the way the card flaps stand proudly and the ridges that form across their surface as they curl. The sample can be viewed from different advantages, each revealing something new. From the side the points cross over in rows and from the reverse a latticed grid appears.

SAMPLE 2.5.6

In my sketchbook, I found myself comparing Lisa Rodden to Maud Vantours.

When I looked back at the Vantours webpage again, I found myself drawn to ‘Triangles’ (scroll right down to bottom page of the link I have provided). These are flaps! As I played with paper, working out how this piece had been achieved, I thought about the title of this exercise: Creating Flaps. Not ‘cutting’ but ‘creating’. The texture of the Triangles reminded me of reptile skin or dragon scales. I recently re-watched Game of Thrones and I noticed similar overlapping shapes in the costumes (which are spectacular).- All these things contributed to me creating flaps with crochet.

I had seen Crocodile Stitch before but never tried it; I followed an excellent tutorial on Crochet Crowd and produced the next sample:


I felt really pleased that I had mastered the stitch and liked the graduated colour in the yarn. I found it amusing that the soft wool is creating an armoured effect yet the only protection it would offer is from the cold!

I finished the exercise after this sample but when I came to summarise what I had learned I noticed that I had only used photography to record this exercise. I later returned to it and used my new Gelli Plate to print the crochet scales.


This is a nice clear print of the crochet sample. I am pleased with the reptilian green, it shows off the ghostly image well. I love the texture and shiny lustre printing from Gelli Plate gives.

Another print, not quite as successful as the first (the green is a bit too ’emerald’) alongside second crochet sample. I made another from cotton because it is firmer than the previous one (acrylic mix yarn) making it better for printing. The green cotton now has highlights from the paint it was pressed into, these additional colours are a welcome byproduct of the process. They add depth and interest and also stiffen the fabric flaps a little. 

I’m really pleased I returned to the exercise to add these prints; I constantly feel tempted to go back to the exercises and do more (and more), I have to force myself to stop and keep moving forward! This was one occasion when it was really worth it…

On to the next exercise…..

2.5; Sampling: Creating Flaps

This set of samples was driven by the investigation of materials rather than the pursuit of an idea. I think probably because I felt quite unsure that the technique would work at all, I didn’t have any preconceptions of what I wanted to achieve.

SAMPLE 2.5.1 (a) (b)   Flaps that face the same direction.

My research into Lisa Rodden’s paper cuts led me to begin the exercise using paint charts. The high quality of the Farrow and Ball sample chips provided an instant scaffold on which to practice cutting, the regular arrangement of raised rectangles of colour meant I didn’t become bogged down in plotting and measuring.

The first cut was a very simple arrangement, the flaps are all the same in size, shape and orientation, only the colour changes. I noticed that the text on the reverse of the flaps was making a pattern, I liked the opposing direction and the randomness of its ‘composition’ (Having recently said I don’t like text in art, I now find myself drawn to it!). 

Another thing that the paint chart allowed me to do, was quickly explore alternative colour-ways:

My observations of colour (above), led to the creation of 2.5.1 (a) below:


Here I pushed the flaps through the hole so that colour chips are on the other side of the flap. This allows the colours to interact more directly. I found this arrangement reminded me of a graveyard. The grey flaps, that vary slightly in colour are strong enough to remain open but not all at the same angle. It is this irregularity working against the even size and spacing that suggests tomb stones, shifting as the soil settles. Red seemed the most appropriate colour to mark death, the text suggests grass or grave in between.

For 1.5.1 (b)  I cut flaps in a different sample chart that I had adhered to board with a foam core. Using an incremental approach, I still kept the flaps facing the same direction.

Stabilising the paper chart with board made it much thicker, although the flaps can be opened wide I chose to pull them only slightly proud of the surface. This creates a subtle variation to the surface but the incremental size makes the pattern work. The muted delicacy of the colours is sympathetic to the gradual distortion. I found it really useful to work with paint samples as it forced me to work with colours I wouldn’t normally use, this has added a more contemporary feel to this sample.

SAMPLE 2.5.2 (a) (b)   Flaps with multiple orientations 

The next samples are very similar to 2.5.1, they are still cut from paint charts and are the same size and shape but they now face multiple directions.


Instantly the grim graveyard effect has gone, so the blues revealing cheerful yellows seems more appropriate. The flaps are more capricious and even though the finish is quite dull appear to flutter and dance, I could imagine this with a metallic finish.

I compared my new surface to the work of Giles Miller. His surface distortions strike me as a slightly more masculine version of what Anne Kyyro Quinn does in felt. The designs of both work in a similar understated way, with all over dimensional pattern that breaks the surface to create a new material. Whereas Kyyro Quinn’s designs are soft and warming, Miller’s are harder and more forceful in the way they command attention. I think it is perhaps his choice of materials, colour and use of straight lines that make me feel this way.

In response to looking at Giles Miller, I produced a larger version of my previous sample:


 I am really pleased with the way the soft, neutral colours interact with the shadows, the inclusion of colour names also works well. Unfortunately, the draw back of having worked with commercial paint charts is the copyright implications. If I were to develop this idea into a piece of work I would need to create my own coloured grids. Lisa Rodden uses gouache, I think I maybe more inclined to work it in fabric somehow…?

SAMPLE 2.5.3 (a) (b)   Cutting flaps through layers

I still found it useful to work with the paint charts, I felt I was learning so much about colour combinations, this sample was no exception. The cuts are made through multiple layers of a pages from a colour book. This ‘look-book’ contained photographs and images making it rather different from the formal more ‘professional’ one I had used previously.

The ‘look-book’ has produced a much softer effect. Whilst the top flap has been cut from a rectangular chip, the layers below do not necessarily  align. What was revealed were snippets of colour and suggestions of fragmented images. The sample could be bent, curled and manipulated into different forms but it was the random compositions that captured my attention.

I feel quite excited by this tiny little book, created by serendipitous cutting. I have added to some of the randomly generated patterns and definitely see myself developing this as a print or in fabric later.

Sample 2.5.3 (b), saw me move away from coloured exploration and focus on material properties. Several layers of tissue paper were secured at the edges with tape and small rectangles were cut evenly across the surface. The delicate flaps were teased upward through the holes.

For such a fragile material tissue paper stood up quite well. The crumples add tonal variation as light and shadow bounce over the petal like protrusions. There is something explosive about the sample which is enhanced by the colour choice, the flaps seem to almost burst through the surface with great energy.

SAMPLE 2.5.4 (a) (b)   Flaps in alternative materials

I felt that I began to ‘find my feet’ with this exercise and my curiosity of material properties produced the next samples, (that were rather ‘scissor led!’) First I snipped a t-shirt:

Wow! I didn’t know if you cut with the knitted grain the flap curls upwards and against it curls back! What an interesting discovery! This provides excellent potential to be exploited, particularly in making a reversible surface.  I instantly saw the temptation Lisa Rodden faced when she discovered her favoured cutting technique- I quickly realised it would be possible to build a pictorial image from these flaps- not something I want to explore.

Following this I cut up some leather from our sofa! (the sofa had already been scrapped I had saved  some of the leather-honestly I wasn’t that scissor happy!)

The flaps collapsed flap against the surface, the reinforcing knit on the reverse pulls the fabric flat. I was able to use stitching to hold the flaps open, creting some curious little bundles. I find these rather contrived and boring. However, my scissors did lead me to revisit the previous exercise ‘Cutting Holes’ which turned out rather more exciting:

I was impressed that both the t-shirt and the leather cut so easily with very little fraying.


2.5; Initial Thoughts and Research

Whether it was a seasonal observation, or not, my instant thought was ‘advent calendar’! Flaps don’t hold the same fascination for me as holes. Holes are like windows, flaps are like doors. Flaps are unruly. I find something rather unsettling in a series of partially opened flaps. They make me nervous, as if I am be offered multiple options and am being forced to choose…

Researching Lisa Rodden’s hand cut paper works, helped to dispel my fears, it reassured me that there would be plenty I could take from this exercise.

Lisa Rodden

I enjoyed looking at Rodden’s more abstract compositions, which comprise of multiple flaps arranged in formal compositions. (See ‘Cross Stitch’ and ‘Kaleidoscope’ series). There is a geometric regularity in them that appeals to me in the same way as Agnes Martin’s grid paintings do. I can find a sense of quiet calm amid the protrusions which is aided by simple and serene colour choices.

I found Rodden’s pictorial designs much less attractive, finding them rather contrived.(See Crane, Peacock Feathers, Cockatoo, Tiger, Horse and Dragon). I think the abstract compositions showcase the technique better without the distraction of an image. However, it is important to remember  that whilst Maud Vantours’ work is destined for high profile companies, Rodden’s work is more suited to a domestic setting where her choice or imagery probably finds a more suitable audience.

I would imagine Rodden’s work sitting well within a home environment, it is quiet but also interesting. Since she always uses a plain white top layer and sharply cut lines the work is quite accessible and non challenging.

How is this artist relevant to me?

Firstly I learned not to be afraid of the technique- there was more to it than advent calendars! Using a predominantly white palette Rodden explores the relationship between small quantities of colour. Flaps then, hold the potential for me to conceal and reveal colour, pattern and texture.

I found parallels with Lisa Rodden, Anne Kyyro Quinn and Agnes Martin, I noticed all seem to play with the idea of simple complexity. A complicated pattern can be produced without the complication of embellishment. I need to be aware that the arrangement of the flaps can be as important as what they reveal.