Design Cut Fold · Zoom Workshop

Edge-Release Structures

Edge Release Structure with 3 blue polka dots, Paula Krieg

There have been questions about the Edge-Release class that I’m teaching at CBA in January. Since I like teaching forms that are generally not well-covered, and since there’s not much chatter around about edge-release, I’m happy to have a reason to write about it.

Paul Jackson’s book Cut and Fold Techniques for Pop-Up Design introduced me to this concept of edge-release. Three things became clear to me as I worked on these forms: First, there is nothing intuitive about how to design these pieces; second, they are hard to work out; three, Jackson’s introduction is truly an introduction in that he leaves it to the reader to find their own way with these. Simply copying his templates, which, by the way, is the only way to start, is just the beginning. Personalizing what he shows can go in infinite directions.

Paul Jackson, Cut and Fold Techniques for Pop-Up Designs, page 65
Paul Jackson, Cut and Fold Techniques for Pop-Up Designs, page 65

The most direct way to understand the underlying concept is seen in the above photo, which is page 65 of Jackson’s book. You can see that a plane of the sheet of paper is liberated from the fold. The image above is a page with one fold, or gutter, with one plane that has been able to defy the expectations of the crease, unexpectaably cantilevering out into space.

This rebellious bit of freedom must be planned, then executed using an X-Acto or other craft knife. Not a project for young children.

Edge Release with Peek-a-Boo Orange, by Alice Kenny

I’ve taught this form with four different groups, but not as the main event. It’s been part of a group of classes that are meant to introduce people to various ways of working with paper. In particular, this way of working with paper is so foreign to people that I haven’t seen many people connect to it as readily as the pleating, solids forms, and origami structures that I teach. Since I find edge release structures to be both so difficult and so beautiful, I’m giving them their own set of classes.

Above and below are some ways that people in my classes have explored the form.

Alan Young, Edge-Release Screen

Alan Young created this dreamy translucent screen. A small model that feels so architectural that I image it as part of a grand building. I have to say that it’s compelling to reimagine these small forms as something gigantic.

There’s something about these structures which seems to invite collage. Below, Christine Anderson creates a gallery for found objects, attaching with sewing and glue, and even hanging a pendulum from an plane that has been pushed out into space.

Christine Anderson, Edge Release with Pendulum

The one thing I can’t show from these photos is the transformation from the flat to the expanded dimensional view of these cards. While there are few rules that must be followed, an optional but truly elegant characteristics that I encourage is to have the closed form of these cards collapse into a silhouette of an ordinary rectangle,

Barb Baccei, edge release graduation card

The card above, by Barb Baccei, cut from decorative paper, then collaged, would have seemed somewhat ordinary albeit a bit mysterious in the closed form. Nothing about the closed form would suggest so many planes and so much movement inside the card.

While, personally, I never design these cards for the odd look of the closed form, I am usually delighted by what the closed form looks like. Really unusual stuff.

Closed form of some of my edge-release cards

The best way to experience these cards (or would-be set designs?) is to see them in action. Short video clip below:

Paula Krieg, Edge Release video

Now here’s a few more, all by Alice Kenny, whose Edge Release with Peek-a-Boo Orange is shown near the top of this post. Alice seemed to know just what to do with this form after seeing just the one sort of type of edge release that I showed in a class that she was a part of. Seeing Alice’s work has been a great motivator to me for offering multiple sessions of this sort of exploration.

Alice Kenny, edge release with dragonfly

Above, Alice sliced away much of the top edge and made many cuts into the paper. Would love to see this in it’s closed form, as well as seeing it with dramatic lighting to enjoy the shadows it would make.

Allice Kenny, edge release celestial

This dramatic card nicely showcases Alice’s considerable illustration chops. The edge release adds to the impact of the already strong image.

Alice Kenny, tricky planes

I enjoyed seeing everything, decorative or not, that people in the class made in previous classes. That’s the beauty of the form: with or without embellishment, they are exciting.

The 3 session zoom class I’m teaching will be my first one of the new year. Registration closes January 12, 2023. Predictably, it’s called Edge Release.

10 thoughts on “Edge-Release Structures

    1. I’m sorry that this falls at a bad time for you. I just checked registrations. With more than two weeks to go before registration closes, there are only 5 spots left open. If it fills, I might suggest that they offer a second section. IF that happens, what time/day should I suggest?


  1. These edge release structures are amazing. As I’m in Australia and won’t make your live zoom classes will you be recording them so we can subscribe to that and watch them later?


    1. Hi Claire, I completely understand that my classes aren’t Australia-time friendly. From what I understand, the only way to view a class is to sign up for it. The classes are recorded, and everyone who is signed up has access to the class recordings for thirty days after the class ends. At the moment, the edge-release class is filled, but I will be talking to CBA about opening another section of it. Would you like to let me know if that happens?


    2. Hi again, Claire. CBA just opened a second section of this class. If you are still interested in seeing the recordings, you can sign up and have access to the class through recordings. Turns out CBA often has people from Australia signing up for classes. I think CBA will be reaching out to you. Hope this works out for you.


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