22: Stretched Paper

22: Stretched Paper

There are some fabulous old black and white books with amazing diagrams for folding, cutting, scoring and manipulating paper in simple ways that often lead to complex forms. My favorite book is Creating with Paper, by Pauline Johnson. This has proven to be a popular book for many years, with fourteen print runs in hard cover before it was released in paperback in 1975!

Creating With Paper, by Pauline Johnson

Paper Folding & Paper Sculpture, by Kenneth Ody is another gem, filled with diagrams and ideas for pleating, slitting and constructing with paper.

Paper Folding & Paper Sculpture, by Kenneth Ody

Creative Paper Design, by Ernst Röttger is another book in my library that I often refer to for inspiration.

Creative Paper Design, by Ernst Rottger

One of the techniques that is covered in these books is what I’ll call slit paper. Most of us has made one of these slit paper lanterns at some point in our life.

It never ceases to amaze me how a single flat sheet of paper, folded in half, slit multiple times through the fold, unfolded, wrapped into a cylinder shape and smushed a bit transforms into a three-dimensional form.
And leave it to some brilliant artists and designers to come up with some really complex and innovative twists on these forms.
Check out these air vases by Torafu Architects. I first saw these on the blog about everything paper: UponaFold (a warning, if you click on the link – and you should! – you will be sucked into a paper vortex).

Airvase by Torafu Architects

These delicate forms can be sculpted into a plate, vase, or bowl. Watch this video to see the vessel being sculpted.
One of the artists featured in the gallery section of Playing With Paper is Matthew Shlian. He’s engineered paper in multiple ways, but this Stretch Series relates most to what I’m typing about here.

Matthew Shlian, Stretch Studies

Matthew Shlian, Stretch Studies

Matt and his partner have just launched a new website showcasing their smaller art objects in paper and wood.
There is one last technique I want to mention, although I don’t have a good photograph. In Japan there is a technique called shifu, which is a way of spinning paper into thread (and then weaving it into cloth). The beginning of the process requires slitting the paper… here’s a set of images from the Japanese Paper Place (worth a visit if you’re in Toronto) that gives you the idea.
Do you have any old books about paper art or paper crafts? Have you seen other ideas for stretching paper? If so, please share it with me by emailing or leaving me a comment below.
About the 25 Days of Paper: I’m going to be a crazy blogger in December, featuring cool paper products, projects, blogs, books, or papers each day. Join in the fun by reading along! I’ll also post links on my FaceBook page. Enjoy the season!


  1. Claude Aimée says:

    My avorite paper craft books. I have a few of those you mentioned. Here are some of the ones I have that I love to browse through for inspiration:
    The new paperstyle, Mimi Christiensen
    Paper, an Inspiration portfolio by Gabrielle Falkiner
    The Art and craft of Papier mâché by Juliet Bwden
    Design with paper in art and graphic design by Raymond A Ballinger
    creative Correspondence by Michael and Judy Jacobs ( check Michael Jacob’s website if you don’t know it yet)
    The Art of Japanese Paper (Masks lanterns kites dools origami) by Dominic Busson, Finest/S.A. Editions Pierre Terrail, Paris, 1992 – beautiful big picture book
    Origami and papercraft by Paul Jackson and Vivien Frank . I have another book on ppo up books in French by Paul Jackson that i love entitled Pliate et découpages, theyndon’t specify the original title only that it was published in 1994 by Lorenz books. I never seem to get enough books about paper!!!

    • Thanks, Claude Aimée! I have a piece in the book by Gabrielle Falkiner and I’ve seen a few of the bookds yo mention, but don’t own any of them. I’ll be sure to pin them on my how-to books board!

  2. Linda K. Fendley says:

    Amazing—so many of these paper folds look simple and yet complicated!

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  4. […] Here are how-to instructions from Helen Hiebert Studio. […]

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