Window Art

Production Pleating

Have created some paper-pleated trimmings for the town office’s ten narrow windows.

It’s been quite the project. Here’s how it went.

I needed to start with paper that was about 75 inches wide. Pieced this together with three 25 inches lengths, also about 10.5 inches tall. Maybe I could have used taller paper.

Next, created a very long template to mark where score lines would go. Working out the template was a whole project unto itself.

Scored many lines. Would have loved to have just started to crease these lines. Nothing like score lines to get my fingers twitching. There’s still a couple steps before folding.

Drew curves, like sine waves, across the bottoms of the papers. Drew these freehand, but the up and downs were mostly planned out.

Added gold curve lines above the pencil lines. It didn’t go on particularly smoothly in places, but I could tell what would be hidden and what would show, so all is good.

Cut the edges. Now I get to fold!

The pleats had no intention of fully cooperating, so they had to be cajoled into shape with glue, front and back, on the top edges. I suppose I could have sewed the edges on my sewing machine, but I didn’t. The blocks I used to hold the pleats in place are the same blocks that I played with as a kid.

Almost done. Had to set up a glam shot before continuing.

Yes, yes, I know that the white and gold is stunning and elegant, but this is the holiday season, which makes bling mandatory.


Now, just waiting to hear from the town supervisor to arrange for hanging.

Workshop Prep

Class Packs & Love Letters

Putting together a packet to send to people who are taking zoom classes with me is much like sending out love letters. I consider each item I enclose, carefully collect them together, imagining how the receiver will feel when they arrive.

For about two week now, nearly every day I’ve said to myself that this is the day that I will finish up the planning the papers for my next set of classes,

I also thought I would quickly decide what to use, as I’ve taught many of these pleated and diagonally folded structures in the past. I should know by now that dashing off decisions isn’t something I tend to do.

My planning page of notes is full of question marks, cross-offs, arrows, checks, underlining, measurements, circles, and 5 different colors of writing, to distinguish different thoughts. I will choose a paper for a particular technique , then I will remember how it went last time I taught it, how one or two people had a hard time, and what could change up to make things more clear? I’ve experienced, more times than I could count, how a small shift in how I demonstrate something can have a huge effect on outcome. Sometimes that means preparing materials differently.

Turns out there are just a few of items that stay the same this time around.

Sometimes the paper I send out has been stored in my workshop for a long time. I have these papers because I like them so much. They’ve been protected in the precious bit of storage space that I have for such things. I will not be able to replace many of them because they are no longer being made, have risen in price dramatically, or I just don’t know how to identify them. I used to hate parting with these papers, and it does feel a bit bittersweet to send them off into the world, but, as I’m getting older I ‘m thinking that I don’t want to get buried beneath what I could not let go of.

When all the decisions are made, and I am ready to lay everything out, all the papers and all the sizes get written down in a ledger that I keep in my workspace. The ledger is 100 pages long. I am sad to see that I am now on page 97.

Here are some things I keep in mind. First is that I may sell very few of the packs: I am clear about wanting people to source their own materials if they want to. More and more, I don’t require specific papers to be used in my zoom classes, I will recommendations to materials that are widely available. For me, putting the pack together isn’t about selling them as much as it about making sure I have completely planned out the classes I will be teaching.

The next thing I think about is why people find value is buying the packs. Sometimes my packs are more costly than this $14 one, but even this one, after tax and postage, ends up costing more like $20. I aim for people being thrilled with what they gotten. My goals for packets can differ. For this one, I want people to have the experience of folding with different kinds of paper (Tyvek, Elephant Hide, Stardream, and others) that are not easy to get in small quantities. People don’t need my pack to learn what I will be teaching, but the collections I send out offer options that may be enriching.

(An important detail about including small items: they get overlooked. I now gather anything small and place them together in a large envelope. Today’s packet has some clear plastic in it. I haven’t done anything to keep that from getting lost…maybe I will put some blue tape on it.)

There are other reasons to make packs available, such as convenience. It’s one less thing for people to think about when they’ve made time in their busy lives to take a class. Some people feel unsure of the paper sourcing decisions that they would make. Then there are those who enjoy the connection of getting package in the mail. It’s a connection I’m happy to provide, because it makes me feel good too.

Today I’ve finished assembling this packet. The first four orders are going out, and I’m celebrating!

Registration for this class, afternoon or evening zoom sessions, is open until October 9, 2022


Folding, Teaching, Zooming

Fascinated by Folding: maybe that’s what I should called the next set of classes I’ll be teaching at Center for Book Arts, via zoom, over 4 weeks starting afternoons at the end of April or for 4 weeks in the evenings starting in the beginning of May.

Alas, these classes are called Flat Foldable Pleats, and Edge Release Explorations. I don’t think anyone will even know what that means. I’m hoping that the picture will sell the class,

I’ve been taking this deep dive into pleating and edge-release folds, which is a whole different thing than symmetrical pop-ups, which I also love. After playing with unusual foldings, like miura folds, and examining Paul Jackson’s books for years, I started playing around with the idea of teaching these lesser known structures.

My last couple of submissions to the Bridges Organizations Math Art shows, like the piece above, have reflected my interest these pleated folds.

They are fun, challenging, and always surprising. Some of the folds, like the hexagon bellows there with the compass leaning against it, are a bear to fold.

Duck and Fold

Other folds, like simple one above, in which an edges of the paper are released by cuts from the folds they might have been bound to, create gorgeous architectural effects, which become even more delightful with some thoughtful photography.

In fact, many mornings this past winter I would get up to do early morning folding just so that I could photograph the constructions in the early morning sunlight. It was a satisfying way to start the day, especially during those stressful days from early November until mid January.

Another thing I’d like to mention is that it appears that I’m getting the hang of teaching on zoom. I feel like I’m figuring out how to create the feeling of connection that I like so much about in person teaching. One big discovery for me is that it’s great to ask people to unmute themselves for our whole class. Don’t know why more people don’t do this. This leaves the way open for people to interject comments, ask questions at critical moments, and lets me know if my pace needs to be adjusted.

I’m finding, too, that some people who take workshops have figured out how to adjust their cameras so that I can see them AND their workspace. Seeing people’s work and as well as their expressions as they work is such a pleasure.

A year ago I had no idea that I’d be able to do this kind of teaching from a little production studio in my home that I could not have even imagined being there. The twists and turns of life never cease to surprise me.


Three Foldings: Artful, Modern, and Retro

Folding #1

Hard to say why some folds seem so intriguing. This one, a v-pleat with multiple gutters, keeps me coming back. I like the way I can, with the help of one piece of tape, get it to go all curvy like the one above.

When I like a fold this much I want to teach it. To teach it I have to examine, dozens of iterations, trying out different papers, working out angles of folds, spacing of vertical folds, ways to think about how to see the folding. Then I have to find someone(s) who actually wants to be taught. Which -yay!- actually happened.

Worked with some friends on zoom for about 25 minutes. Then made this 10 minute video. I go a bit fast in parts, but I didn’t want the video to seem too long, and I know you know how to hit pause.

Here it is, how to make that fold at the top of the page.

Folding #2

You know how sometimes you walk away from a video on Youtube, and when you come back another video is playing? That happened to me recently. When my attention turned back to the computer this most adorable fold was being made.

My first thought was, how did I live my whole life thus far without knowing this fold, which is how to close up a bag of chips? I, obviously, did not make this video, but it is so worth sharing. Feast your eyes!

I may never use this fold simply because every bag of chips I open becomes empty before I set it down. If I ever find a bag of chips that I can’t eat in one sitting (doubtful) I will be ready.

Folding #3

After discussing the first two folds in this post with Jim Stovall, he lamented that he’d like to know how to fold a sandwich in wax paper in such a way that it won’t escape.

In grade school I was lucky enough to have a Home Economics class. I can’t say that I liked our no-nonsense home ec teacher Mrs. Phelan, but a great deal of what I learned from her I carried forward with me. Probably more than any other teacher, I think of her as I go about living my life.

There are some things she did that she didn’t explicitly teach. One of these things was how to fold a sandwich securely within wax paper. I watched her do this many times (also with brownies and cookies). She would do it so fast that I was never quite sure what she did. I captured bits of what she was doing, but never mastered it.

After speaking to Jim I was determined to figure it out. Being someone who makes books, I have lots of wax paper around. Not sure if it’s a regular item with regular people.

I couldn’t do it then, and I couldn’t figure it out now. Youtube to the rescue.

This guy has gotten 153,415 views of this video in the past 32 months. He deserves it. I love that this lifelong mystery has been solved. Here it is, how to wrap a sandwich in wax paper so that it doesn’t escape.

There you have it, three wonderful folds.

If it so happens that you were hoping for more festive foldings, I highly recommend you head over to Cathryn Miller’s fabulous blog where she is doing a festive fold a day throughout the month of December.

It’s now time for me to go back to admiring (?) the 36+ inches of fresh snow that has just recently surrounded my home here in Upstate New York.