As mentioned in my previous post, I have decided to experiment with paper. I started with trying to fold paper, in what paper sculptor Paul Jackson describes as, a glide reflection. The process was fiddly at first, but very satisfying when all of a sudden the paper starts collapsing in on itself, and folding as you want it to. I tried the same method, but with a patterned paper I had created. I was hoping the pattern on the paper would emphasise the depth of the paper folds. Only a partial success, and incredibly tricky to fold as this time I didn’t have accurate grid lines on the reverse to follow. The pattern just seemed busy, but perhaps if I had replicated the translating symmmetry of the folds more closely, it might have looked better.
Exhausting of intricate, time consuming paper folding, I decided to change tack slightly, and to pursue the notion of paper as a type of fabric. Smocking looks a bit like the equivalent of origami in the fabric world, and having never tried it before I thought I’d give it a go, but by using paper instead of fabric. I used a heavy weight paper to try and reduce the likliehood of the paper tearing. Results were ok, but slow and it was impossible to get the wool taut. Stapling was quicker, but not so aesthetically pleasing!
After further experimentation, this time with tearing and folding to recreate smocking, I eventually decided to return to the glide reflection folded paper I had created, and to think how I could incorporate it into my final design. I brainstormed various ideas including using the folds to represent the scales of some kind of reptile, or as an embellishment to a garment in some way.
The paper when folded has a lovely curve to it and I was very conscious that I wanted to work with that aspect in particular. I felt if the piece I had created, was a small addition to something much bigger, then it’s charm would be lost. To avoid this I toyed with the idea of recreating it on a much larger scale using fabric, but in the end I decided to stick with the small paper version. All along I had been trying to blur the boundary between fabric and paper, so I decided it made sense to turn the folded paper into something one would traditionally create out of fabric, like a garment of some kind.
In one of my earlier blog entries, I looked into the work of Francine Desbiens, renowned for expertise in paper cut-out animation. The association with paper again and the image I had used in my blog, inspired the idea to turn the folded paper into a dress. I thought the curve in the paper would lend itself well to the curve and folds of a full skirt.
I needed to create a delicate paper bodice, that i could attach to the skirt. An extremely kind young lady loaned me her Barbie doll and I used it as a guide in terms of working out the proportions.
Experimenting with paper dressmaking for Barbie
As above I did a quick trial with a scrap of tissue paper, the paper held it’s shape really well. So I went with a small piece of white tissue paper, and very carefully sewed side seams, to keep the folds in place. I also did a tiny bit of ruching to give the top of the bodice definition, and made straps from the thread I had used in the sewing.
I’m pleased with the final result, but I think given more time I would have liked to have tried different papers, and made the skirt and bodice from one continuous and wider piece, so that it would really emphasise the curvature and fullness of the skirt.
Finished paper dress