folding · How-to

Pouch: Something from Almost Nothing #3

Continuing to miss my time working with kids.

This is one thing that I’ve compensated with: I’ve been submitting articles to a local paper, writing about paper crafts that can be made from the newspaper that the directions are printed on.

I’ve gone a step further. Within my 800 word limit, I add some math talk.

Here’s what the article looks like:

Published the The Greenwich Journal and Salem Press in Upstate NY

I wrote just a little bit about this pouch, and why I wanted to make it with kids in this post,, which I highly recommend you look at if you are into kids, paper folding, and math.

I wrote up the directions so I wouldn’t forget them, calling it Paper Bag from a Rectangle.


Paper Bag from a rectangle
Paper Bag from a rectangle

What I didn’t know when I wrote that post in 2018 was how much both the kids and adults would like making this pouch! In subsequent times that I met with them, some kids remembered the steps, others would ask to be reminded so that they could make another one. When kids try to revisit projects on their own, I know it’s a keeper.

This pouch was the first on four articles I’m doing for The Greenwich Journal and Salem Press this summer.

I wanted this to be more than than a how-to article. I asked my friend John Golden to weigh in on math connections. The fact is just about anything can be voluminously discussed in terms of math, but I get only get about 300 – 400 words for this part. Still, was delighted with what John said, specifically, which was:

Now that you have made this bag, you might wondering, how is that doing math? It’s the wondering is the key.

By simply following the directions and finishing, maybe you didn’t do math. But if you wondered, how is this going to work? Why does that measurement matter? How big will it be? Is this a bag or is it more like a pouch? Or if you were thinking “what if I tried it like this?’ ‘why is the bag so sturdy?’ ’how much will it hold?’ or ‘why doesn’t it just pull apart?’ then you, my friends, are doing some serious math.”

If I think mathematically about what’s in front of me, I might have the questions like those that Professor Golden posed above. I also might ask, what would change if I was way off when I estimated folding the paper into thirds? What if I made a three inch flap instead of a two inch flap? What would be different about orienting the paper differently from the beginning? What does it mean to orient that paper differently?

If I think mathematically about what could be in front of me, I might ask, can I make this bag from a regular piece of copy paper? What if I used a page from the New York Times instead of the Journal & Press? What if I started with a square instead of a rectangle? What if I used a piece of aluminum foil or waxed paper?

Now, if you think to yourself, these are the kinds of questions an artist wonders about, then you, dear reader, have an insight on why I so much like talking to mathematicians.

I am just delighted with this way of working in the world right now. I love working with newspapers, coloring on them, folding them, talking about them.

The math connection is as important to me as the art and craft connection, because it’s all the same thing. An understanding of one deepens and enriches the understanding of the other.

I hope you make a pouch.

If you do, send me a photo please.

4 thoughts on “Pouch: Something from Almost Nothing #3

  1. I like this! I love the purity of a piece that’s just folded – no cuts, no glue. But the depth of unseen paper grieved my frugal soul….. So I wondered if I could make a pocket on the side that has lots of layers. I wasn’t getting far with folds. But if you untuck the top of that side and make a snip down each side along the 1/3 folds, just as far as the top folded edge, it semed to work. You can do it to any point, but it pleased me to have a pocket at the same level as the fold. Then you fold the front, central, section down as far as the snips and tuck it inside. You can then tuck the back 2 pieces into the top fold to get one pocket with sealed sides. Or you can fold down the next layer too, and fold that back inside, and you get an extra pocket, open down one side, and just tuck the back section under the top fold.
    I like to use my folding in scrapbooking, and you can never have too many pockets!
    (I don’t seem to be able to post a photo….)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s