A few weeks ago I watched a documentary about origami on Netflix called Between the Folds. The documentary covered a whole genre of origami called wet folding, that I had never heard of before. The premis is that you work with wet paper to produce fluid, soft form paper sculptures. The results were really beautiful, and the doc is well worth a watch.
Both my parents are artists and when I was young my dad taught me how to stretch paper when you want to paint to avoid it warping when it makes contact with water. I think this was probably the first time I’d encountered a way of working with the paper’s memory rather than trying to work against it.
I think about how I work now, which involves paper cutting and sculpture among other thing with paper as trying to work with a paper’s memory. Whatever you do to paper will change it, even after you erase a drawing there will still be a ghost mark of the drawing you first made. In my own work I make the paper or card silouette and then use objects to mould it around before applying more layers of paper and glue. What you get at the end of that is more like a hard shell than a fragile changeable bit of paper so it’s important to work out what the card will remember in terms of shape right at the beginning. Get this wrong and what you get is warping and movement in the wrong direction.
At the moment I’m still in the process of experimenting. What works best? Which is the best way to curl a bird wing? How think is the paper and how long can I fuss with it before it will fall apart? It’s learning in a very physical, tactile and mindful way that’s quite different to other aspects of my life. I’m enjoying the journey so far.