Pleated Star and Template

Creating this radial pleating occupied much of this past week.

Would love to see other people make something like this, so am sharing the process and the template.

This began by seeing a folding designed by Anna Rudanksi in Paul Jackson’s Complete Pleats book, page 199…

…and Tomoko Fuse’s infinite folds, Origami Art Works by a Modern Master, page 84.

I tried out a few different ways to set up the folding. The PDF below shows the final pattern I made then folded. The paper is 11″ x 17.” For more about how to make all these creases, take a look at my video which shows how to do this sort of folding.

When I was testing out the folding pattern, I was using a 24 lb paper. I think I would like something slightly heavier if I was making the whole thing out of paper. What I actually used is something that is a synthetic paper, which can get wet, because the finished piece is going to hang on an outside door.

Scoring then folding

I made 10 of these pieces, first scoring then folding.

I did the folding over several days.

Next step was to group them together in pairs, overlapping by 25%. Used linen thread to sew them together, since I didn’t trust this synthetic paper with adhesives. Also did a turn in on the lower (inside) the edges. Not really sure if this was really necessary. For the turn in, I used the method that Joe Nakashima shows in his Origami Fireworks video between 7’10” and 8’20.”

Here’s me with my husband, hoping that eight units would be enough. Nope, needed two more.

Finished piece is 25 inches cross. Rays are every 12 degrees. One step is left, which is to mount it on board so that it can hang up.

I’m quite happy with the way this piece turned out.

Not everyone in my household shares my enthusiasm.

Addendum: If you liked this post and want to consider supporting a children’s Lunch, Learn and Play program in my rural community, please visit this link to discover some math/art that you or some children you know might find inspiring. It’s a collection of math/art cards to color, which I designed and which have a story and the link to the math that they are built with.

Art and Math

Color My Math

Here’s a true story. I was attracted to patterns of curved lines. Then I started to learned how to make them, using math.

That story took about sixty years to be true, from beginning to end.

The woman who lived next door had a spirograph. I would go knock on her back door. She would set up the spirograph for me. I would sit and make curves while she ironed clothes.

My mother bought wrought iron headboards for the twin beds in my room. I would sit and stare at the spirals, run my fingers around the curves.

It wasn’t until my own children were in high school that I learned that spirograph curves could be described by mathematical equations. I wanted to know how to do this. I mean, I really wanted to know how to make curves using math. I learned how. I’m still learning.

Every piece of jewelry a person wears has a story attached to it. I enjoy asking about these items. In the same way, the curves I make have stories. I’ve written some of these down.

A number of years ago an extraordinary woman from down the road started a free summer program for the children in this area. Kids were served lunch, they played, and listened to stories. When it was clear that more and more children needed a place to eat, learn, and play, current and retired educators stepped up to create an exceptional program. Parents drop off their children, the children are fed, offered swimming lessons at a nearby lake, and have engaging educational experiences at the community center. Local teenagers are hired as counselors. Local teachers and artists are engaged to design and teach compelling learning blocks. Kids are treated to visits from people in the community who come by and share their own interests and skills with groups. With help from many sources, this generous program, which charges exactly nothing, is continually growing.

This year I’ve decided to sell something to support our Lunch, Learn & Play program.

I’ve made cards of curves to color. On the back of the folded card is my story of each curve. I’m also including a web link to a graph to so the curious mind can see how math makes these curves.

Are you curious? Hop over to the link below. There is a blue dot on the bottom row left. Move that dot an see what happens to the picture. You will be dazzled.

There are eight different black & white cards to color, and eight envelopes too.

The paper that these cards are printed on Springhill Digital Vellum Bristol White Cover, 67 lb, the perfect paper for crayons and Crayola colored pencils since these marking items work the best on paper that has a bit of roughness to it. Markers work really well on this paper, too, which is thick enough that there is very little soak-through.

These cards for coloring are going on my Etsy site, where, through the month of June, all proceeds from these cards will be donated to the local children’s program.

If you know a someone who would appreciate finding out something about the beautiful curves of math, and you would like to support a truly wonderful children’s program, follow this link:



Time for art mostly eluded me when my children were very young. One of the attempts I made to let get something, anything, artful done was what could be called doodling. After my children were tucked in and sleeping I might have a few wakeful minutes to myself to open this notebook.

I started without intention or plan. I just knew I that I wanted to make marks on paper. It didn’t matter what the marks were. I just had to begin. At first I just drew vertical lines. Then a pages of connected M’s, then squares, then circles. You get the idea? I could have just drawn page after page of straight lines. It didn’t matter. I just needed to get marks down on paper.

I was never able to finish a page in one night, not even close, which was fine, Finishing a page was not the point.

Eventually I started making other kinds of marks, mixing up lines with curves and dots.

Often I would be too tired at night to do anything at all. Sometimes my markers would dry up before I finished the page that I had begun with them. None of that mattered much. I was just happy to be making marks. This went on, and off, over a couple of years.

I just counted that here are forty marked pages in this notebook.

For some reason, one day, looking through the book, all I felt was despair. I was embarrassed that I was working on cheap paper, using cheap materials, feeling like I was creating something that was simply worthless. I closed the notebook, disgusted with myself, and didn’t open it again.

A few weeks ago (twenty five years later?) I took a workshop led by Marianne Rodrigruez Petit and Jen Monsen Leach. They called the workshop Reclaiming Your Doodles, #reclaimingdoodles. They talked about doodling as self-care. Both Marianne and Jen spoke about how the doodling that they’ve done has helped them through stressful times. I don’t know if they had voices in their heads, like I did, judging them harshly, calling the work trivial, but if they did, they were able to put that aside in a way that I was not able to do.

Recently someone in a class I’ve been teaching wondered aloud if this passion she was following for making things was worthwhile to do. Already middle-aged, she couldn’t see where it was going, and questioned the time and energy she was putting into something that she couldn’t see a way forward with.

I know what she is talking about. I could hear the voices of reason that people have inclined to grace me with throughout my life, questioning me on the decisions I was making, telling me what I needed to be doing, asking me why I was doing what I was doing in a way that intended to judge and discourage me. I heard those voices so much that they began to repeat by themselves inside of my head.

Here’s what I know for sure: the interests I pursued, and there have been many of them, have made my life richer, more memorable, more joyful. I’ve not been reckless when I have explored unconventional paths (well, maybe sometimes a little reckless: I am grateful for good luck), but I’ve never regretted the interests I’ve pursued.

The only regrets I have are when I’ve stopped.

How-to · Workshops · Zhen Xian Bao

Different Ways of Teaching Zhen Xian Bao

Trying out arrangements of boxes and patterns

Recently finished up teaching a 12 session 12-week zoom class called Zhen Xian Bao and Beyond, which I co-taught with Susan Joy Share for Center for Book Arts. Had the best time ever. Not only did the class go really well, but I had the opportunity to continue to evolve my teaching in this new zoom world.

Here are some thoughts.

Doing a series of two-hour classes weekly can be pretty intense, but the pay off is that people have time between classes to sift through what we covered and work on it at their own pace, which is exactly what happened. Everyone in the class, and I do mean everyone, evolved creatively and made incredibly interesting work. I won’t be showcasing the work from this class in my blog, as I am hoping that there will be some kind of on-line exhibition of this work, and I don’t want to jump in front of that possibility,

Instead, I will share with you part of what inspired the trajectory of the class, some of what I taught, and some of what I learned.

A page from Ruth Smith’s book, A Little Know Chinese Folk Art Zhen Xian Bao

Ruth Smith’s book on the Zhen Xian Bao inspired the class. The most commonly taught construction from this book shows four twist boxes on top of four masu boxes, hiding two rectangular trays, with a large tray underlying everything. We began the class learning how to make the parts of this lovely, elegant form, but right from the start we let students know that there are many more ways of making these Chinese thread books. As soon as we had become familiar with this foundational way of working, we got creative. It took about half the sessions to get through the basics, but after that, the sky was the limit.

A page from Ruth Smith’s book, A Little Know Chinese Folk Art Zhen Xian Bao

We explored all sorts of arrangement of boxes, sewed books into the covers, created different kinds of enclosures, explored a wide range of closures, scaled our creations to be all sorts of sizes, and more. First we drew inspiration from the myriad constructions in Ruth Smith’s book, then we drew inspiration from each other.

Another page from Ruth Smith’s book, A Little Know Chinese Folk Art Zhen Xian Bao

Due to the fact that the class happened over a three month period, I was able to respond to people’s particular interests. For instance, people wanted to learn a very beautiful closure that was designed by Hedi Kyle. I knew we didn’t really have time to learn this in one of our sessions, so I made a video, which people watched on their own.

Here’s a video of that closure

Co-teaching was full of surprises. First, I had no idea it would be so fun to co-teach. Since it was Susan Share that I was teaching with, I knew I would learn a great deal. What I didn’t realize was how working with her would deepen my understanding of things I already knew. Experiencing how Susan approached the material we both understood gave me a world of new insights. Also, since there was another instructor who was thinking about the next class, it gave me the freedom to create new content between classes that supported what was taught in the last class.

For instance, even though I taught an enclosure that we called a clutch, referencing chic small handbags, I refined my design after teaching it. Eventually I made an instructional video of this too, which you can view here:

Last thing I want to write about right are some thoughts about one-line teaching.

First, I broke with protocol concerning muting students. I asked everyone to keep the microphones on, unless they had a reason to turn it off. I found this way of working on zoom to be extremely valuable, as it allowed instant feedback. If I was drifting off camera, going too fast, hiding my work with my hands, people felt free to say something right away. If someone had a question at a critical point, they knew they could ask. I could hear people’s reactions when they saw something they really liked.

Now here’s something else that on-line teaching facilitated: by setting up a google slides page people were able to share their work, and see what others were doing. I believe this expanded their learning exponentially. It’s one thing to see me showing my models, but when they see the range of work that comes from each other, so so so many more possibilities open up. At this early stage of learning, having students see each other’s work was like giving plants copious amounts of sunlight, water, and rich soil just as they are beginning to grow. Susan and I had much to offer, but what students offered each other was really quite extraordinary.

That’s it for now. I hope that the next time I write about this particular class it will be about telling you where you can view the work of the fabulous artists who took the time to work with Susan and I through Zhen Xian Bao and Beyond,