Cut & Fold Techniques for Promotional Materials : Paul Jackson

128 pages, Softback published by Laurence King ISBN 178067094X 22cm square(!)

Following on from his previous titles in this series (“Folding Techniques for Designers: From Sheet to Form” and “Structural Packaging: Design Your Own Boxes and 3D Forms”), Paul continue to share the fruits of many years of experience and expertise in the field of cut/folded card/paper. Unlike books aimed at the craft market, this is not just a series of models, it is a collection of ideas for the reader to take and adapt and apply to suit their own ends.

It’s also an interesting reflection on where Paul sees himself at this stage in his life, since he is, in effect, giving away many of the secrets that made him such a successful professional in this field! Needless to say, simply owning these books won’t replicate the years of experience he has, but it will certainly offer a handy primer for many beginners.

Inside, you get chapters on “before you start”, flexagons, modular solids, envelopes, puzzles/illusions, folded booklets and novelties. Whilst there are plenty of things to fold in the book, it’s not aimed at folders. The chapter on modular solids is largely based on cut/folded shapes, although it’s fascinating to see extensions of Jackson’s own cube (an “inside out” version of the classic playing card cube) which use 2 or 3 pieces instead of 6 to create cubes. The envelopes are mostly pure origami, not that it’s important! The “chain of cubes” in the novelty section is most intriguing.

The design of the book is clean and uncluttered, reflecting the contents. I can’t help feeling that it looks slightly dated in today’s modern world of graphic flair, but this shouldn’t adversely influence buyers from an academic background. Colour is used fleetingly throughout – I would have gone the extra mile and included colour images for the final photo of each design – monochrome doesn’t really do them justice and they look a bit “70s” to my eyes.

The diagrams themselves are clear and should make following the projects easy, even for beginners. Somewhat unusually, Paul created the final artwork on computer using Freehand, (something I never thought I’d see 😉  so we miss out on the lively feel of his usual hand-drawn artwork.

As you would expect, Paul has been scrupulous in his accreditation for ideas, a whole page at the end lists his sources and points out that it is getting harder to indicate provenance with complete reliability.

Should you buy this book? As a newcomer to folding/cutting, I think it’s about as essential a volume as you’re likely to find. If, like me, you’ve worked in the field yourself for a long time and have a large collection of Jackson books, I’d still recommend buying it. It’s a fabulous collection and will give you lots of ideas to develop yourself. I’m certain that these books will form “required reading” for anyone studying and working in packaging and design.

It can be bought online for £10.20 with free postage, but do try to support your local bookshop, even if it costs a pound or two more. Final note to the publishers – if you’re going to put stickers on the cover promoting other books, please ensure they peel off easily – this one didn’t ;(

There is a website set up to promote Pauls books, with several instructional videos – check it out!