Complete Pleats: Paul Jackson

Complete Pleats: Pleating Techniques for Fashion, Architecture and Design
By Paul Jackson

Published by Laurence King 660 illustrations, 304 pages, 255 x 190 mm ISBN 9781780676012

don’t normally take a lot of notice of the blurb from publishers promoting their own books, but in this case, they sum the book up very neatly.

“Paul Jackson‘s major new title Complete Pleats is the most comprehensive book about pleating on the market. It explains how pleating systems can be stretched, compressed, flared, skewed, multiplied and mirrored, showing how from simple ideas, a huge number of original pleat forms can be created. Each technique is explained with a series of step-by-step photographs and line illustrations, enabling the designer to work through the basic principles of pleating and then adapt them to their specific needs. Complete Pleats also features more than 60 examples of pleats from the worlds of architecture, fashion and product design.”

It is the latest in a series of books from Jackson aimed at students or professionals who want to learn about the inherent design possibilities of a sheet of paper. Whilst the previous volumes have been fascinating to anyone with an interest in folding techniques, it’s fair to say they would have been of passing interest to your average recreational folder (and indeed, this was not their target market). This book will appeal to the previous markets, but I suspect will also be picked up by anyone interested in the use of pleating within origami, which is currently very popular.

Jackson has worked for 30 years within universities, delivering design courses in the UK, Germany, Belgium, the US, Canada and Israel. This has given him an in-depth knowledge of the subject. To this he has allied his instinctive approach to art, allowing him to present a well rounded perspective on the subject. As he works through the many different forms of a pleat, he present beautiful (colour) photos showing how a given technique is used in a real-life design solution, be it a chair, a dress or lighting installations. the techniques on offer seem as comprehensive as it’s possible to be and beautiful forms just pour from the pages.

Taking two years to write, chapters include Introduction: What is a Pleat?, Dividing Paper, Basic Pleats, Twisted Pleats, V-Pleats, Working with Grids, Pleats Laid Across Pleats, How to Pleat Fabric. Spread across over 300 pages, the possibilities of each idea are explored in depth. There is a useful section called “Steaming and Baking” which shows methods for making your fabric pleats stay in place – I suspect that is not Paul’s hand holding the iron – Yorkshiremen are not noted for this skill!

The illustrations are clean and clear, using the red/blue notation to differentiate valley/mountain. Individual folding sequences are not given, but there is an opening section showing exactly how to fold pleats and radial creases, so it’s clear what you need to do, if you work sequentially through the book. Each page is laid out with plenty of white space. I’ve often felt many books favour model count over clarity of layout, but this is not the case here.

The (hardback) book cover is very attractive, featuring a “debossed” pleat. The book also comes with a DVD containing 23 videos, presented by Paul, talking you through the finer details of some techniques. The range from 2 to 5 minutes in length and are very absorbing material, although it would have been nice for a simple menu option for the DVD – you have to open each video as a file. Editions in German and Spanish have already been printed and there will probably be other languages available soon.

A full colour, 300+ page hardback book was never going to be cheap to produce and a UK retail of £27.50 may make some people baulk, but I feel it’s still good value for money – what price can a folder put on a near-complete summary of a folding genre, with so many inspirational ideas on offer? Then there’s the DVD, which adds considerable extra value.

As with the others in the series, they are not for those seeking to learn new models, but if you’re even half-way creative, you’ll simply love it. This is not just a “how to” book (although it is excellent in that respect) but more importantly, it’s an inspiration and exhortation in praise of beauty within folding. In my humble opinion, a must-have book.

More information and photos here