Notes on Pleating Techniques and Applications

Lately, amongst other things, I’ve been playing with pleated structures.  This post is to help, me more than anything else, think about the differences, similarities, and pros/cons of different types of pleating techniques.

Paul Jackson is one of the earlier artists to work with pleating.  His pleated pieces are pleated (I believe) all in one direction than the other.  He then uses the additional paper pleats to pull them apart creating a curve.  The curve is not inherent in the pleating as in Goran Konjevod’s technique.  Paul Jackson’s website is which has galleries and a lot of great pages to find out about him and his work.  Also different is that Jackson doesn’t constrain the edges.  The pulling apart of the pleats is the essence of the form and the direction they are pulled in decides the finished pieces form.  One of the most beautiful aspects (to me) of his work is his coloring of his pieces.  I highly recommend that you look at his coloring, because the depth that it adds to the forms is amazing.  The bowl in the center is probably my favorite as the center shows the most delicious shading.  The third piece wouldn’t surprise you if you stumbled upon it in a thicket.  His work is varied and doesn’t stop with pleated structures so going through his site you’ll see commercial work, paper engineering, crumpling and more. 

Goran is known for his fantasitical explorations of pleated structures.  His designs and curves come from the interacting of the pleat layers.  The way the layers interact are forcing curvature.  Different pleat orders create different curves.  His dense pleated structures are mathematical jems as well as artistic expressions.  There are an infinite number of pleating combinations and consequently an infinitely huge pleated playground.  Another difference between a lot of his works is the constraint of the edges, although this isn’t present in all it is present in most.

So in the prior post one of the main differences is the constraining of the edges.  The goal is not to have the whole form curve around itself. but imagine the curves are more akin to the modification of the pleats of Eric Gjerde’s Arabesque, especially for the silver piece.  “Mother and Child” is most similar  to Jackson’s work in the method of curvature.  Constraining edges has drawbacks in nature the solid constrained edge wouldn’t be seen, but most problematic is the tension on the edges.  Short of elephant hide you are likely to rip paper with the tension.

His webite is and is a great place to look at his wonderful explorations.  


Exception to the rule of forced curvature25hierarchical.jpg01edge-expansion-largeA.jpg


The thing I first did once I played with a bowl he taught was to pull it apart from the bottom, which to be honest is what I pretty much do to everything.

Twin Mushroom Container with lids by you.

It can be done for space, as above, or aesthetic as below.

Organic Curry Bowl by you. Green Container by you.

One of the cons of pleated structures is lost volume.  Deconstructing allows you to reclaim a certain amount of space that is traditionally lost in pleated structures/containers.  Of course like many things you are trading one pro for a con.  When not deconstructing structures they tend to be very strong and dense.  When you deconstruct the inside you end up with only one layer of paper and it is noticably less dense than the rest of the structure.

Another modification that I started playing with (and I’m glad Goran is playing with) is edge expansion.  This is where all the pleats along an edge are pulled apart, you can also think of inner creases as an edge and expand them.

These two pieces combines some deconstruction and edge expansion.

Green OrganicGreen Organic by you.

One of the pros to this action is the very organic nature that it imparts to a piece, but like before when pulling apart edges it affects other nearby pleats and does weaken the overall structure.  If rigidity is desired this technique is not ideal.

Later Version by you.Overhead View of Bowl by you.

Probably one of my favorite modifications is the addition to traditional pleating identifiable centers that are done with initial flattened box pleating that is then shaped as desired.  It gives you more opportunities to create combined pieced.  A limitation is the creasing of the pleats and thickness becomes an issue the more complex the internal structure.

Green Bowl angled side by you.Petal Bottom bowl by you.Petal Bottom Bowl bottom side detail by you.Spider Web Turin by you.

Future explorations involve pleating structures that arn’t 90 degree based like.  In other words types of radial pleating.  Another variant is only pleating certain quadrants of a piece of paper like outer corners and not doing the centers:  Con:  Doesn’t follow traditional pleat lines and is a pain in the bum.

Hex pleating test

Saffron in Curves

I hope this helps anyone who likes to play with pleated structures and if not oh well.  It is a fascinating part of paper art that can give structures that are organic and beautiful and I am happy that people like Paul Jackson and Goran Konjevod are doing/have done such nifty things.

2 comments so far

  1. EnWhySee on

    Fantastic and thorough explanation. A great teacher in person, and by proxy!

  2. Henry on

    This post may be the best overview of origami pleating techniques on the internet.

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 )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google 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

%d bloggers like this: