Sunday, November 12, 2023

Weekend Review: Shadowfolds


Shadowfolds / Jeffrey Rutzky & Chris K. Palmer
Kodansha America, c2011
128 p.

I came across this book recently, mentioned by someone else -- even though it's more than a decade old, I'd never heard of it. So I requested it via Interlibrary Loan, and I'm so glad I did! It is so inspiring -- and a bit overwhelming too! The amazing techniques shared here are beautiful and half the time I was astonished at how they were able to create the effects they did. 

It's a work between two men who are both origami artists, at different levels of experience. They've created a system of folding fabric which is essentially origami based, but with many new features due to the nature of fabric. They do recommend a lightweight, crisp fabric like muslin, linen, voile or even organza, with some experience first. The authors suggest different ways to use these designs, and there's a feature on a designer who used this technique in a runway show -- so it is possible to add some of these fabric manipulations to garments, if you can find the right match.

The series of folds are done according to a specific dot pattern, and the joins are stitched together (reminding me quite a bit of smocking) and then the folds and gathers are manipulated and pressed in order to get the paper-like results. Many of the pieces are made to be hung in a window, or as a screen, or lampshade, in order to show off the shadow patterns of the design -- some designs are shown in four views: front and back opaque, and front and back translucent, and it's astonishing how different they look with a light source behind them, it's like a hidden design appears. There are 15 projects shared, ranging from small beginner ones to large and complex. 

I'm not sure I will try many of these projects, simply because of time, but I have noted a few that I'd like to experiment with. There is a pattern for a book cover that appeals to me, and is small enough not to be too intimidating. I think I may give that a go, and see if I can get my head around this complex process. There is also a pattern for a pillbox hat with a star fold on the top. I think that would be really cool, too! 

This is a book I'd like to own, so that I could try the designs slowly and as I have interest. Might have to look further for my own copy :) 


  1. This book looks fascinating. Unfortunately, my library doesn't have it and I'm trying not to acquire more books. On the used book market they are selling this book for something over $30.

    1. This was an engaging read, but yes, I hear you on the accumulation of books... I was glad I could find this through the library.


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