Friday, 2 October 2015

Complete Pleats, by Paul Jackson. Review.

Pleating Techniques for Fashion Architecture and Design

By Paul Jackson

Laurence King, September 2015

Hardback, £27.95 (includes DVD with 23 videos of pleating techniques)

ISBN 978-1-78067-601-2

Star rating: *****

Makers know that pleating is a method of controlling fullness in a functional – and simultaneously decorative –  way. Perhaps you have seen one of those very trendy intricately-pleated lampshades and wondered how it was done.  Master of paper manipulation, Paul Jackson’s new title, Complete Pleats, reveals all.

Two years in the making, Complete Pleats is the go-to resource if you are interested in learning how to make pleats and pleated forms. Here, you have 30+ years of Paul Jackson’s folding expertise distilled into a single volume. Just as Jackson’s Structural Packaging de-mystified box-making and broke it down into a foolproof system, Complete Pleats teaches how to make pleats in a methodical way, building skill upon skill. You will learn how to make dimensional shapes out of a flat piece of paper, in most cases without cutting.

As skills are added, the design possibilities multiply. Each new chapter ramps things up a notch. As you acquire new pleating skills, there is more and more to explore. For example, adding an angled fold is literally a new twist – it is the key to creating spiralling forms. (Yay! Twisted rosettes. What’s not to love?) To add to the wonder, many of the shapes collapse flat – which I suppose is why space engineers are interested in pleating. 

If you know a little about origami, then you will be comfortably familiar with Paul Jackson’s pleating method. He breaks the pleating process down into mountain folds, valley folds, and  also universal folds (which bend both ways). 

What will you learn? How to divide a plain sheet of paper into pleated 64ths – and not a ruler in sight! Things get even more interesting with rotational pleats – pleats that fan out from a central point. You will get acquainted with the basic pleats – Accordion, Knife, Box, Curved, and Cut, then move on to Twisted Pleats, V-Pleats, and Pleats across Pleats. It is astonishing how curved forms can be shaped using straight folds.

The pleating techniques are shown very clearly with line illustrations in two – or more – colours, and directional arrows,  as required, and are accompanied by photos of the finished result. There are illustrations of side-views of the pleats where necessary, and helpful explanations of what is being folded – and why. The text is written in a friendly and informative conversational style (which makes me wish that I had been lucky enough to attend one of Paul Jackson’s courses or lectures).

There is also a chapter on how to pleat fabric. Here, Paul Jackson describes an achievable home method of the plissé technique, used in couture fashion, in which a piece of fabric is sandwiched between two identical folded paper moulds and then baked. He also provides how-tos for Chris K. Palmer’s Shadowfolds technique, a deceptively simple method of thread-marking fabric to produce rotating fabric folds. 

If you are a papercrafter, don’t be put off by the “Pleating Techniques for Fashion and Architecture” strap line. All of the instructional pleating examples in the book –  and on the video   are done with paper. (Inspirational photos show how pleating can be used in the wider world of design, cue impressive pics of set designs, buildings and interiors, and furniture.) The DVD, effective in black and white, is of Paul Jackson demonstrating the pleating techniques featured in the book (voice over + hobby hands). The 23 videos are clear and concise, and will leave you wanting to have a go yourself. All the techniques are accessible to the papercraft hobbyist, as well as to the student of design. 

There is some overlap of material with Paul Jackson’s previous title, Folding Techniques for Designers – but the two books complement each other rather than cancel each other out. For a comprehensive exploration of folding techniques, Complete Pleats is the mother lode.

If you are into papercraft design, Complete Pleats is an indispensable and user-friendly reference. Time to start hinting now.

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