Fundamentals of folds
To carve any realistic object, an understanding of its construction is essential. In fact, the more you see when studying a subject, the more you will be able to reproduce it. When the subject is folds (whether folds in clothing, folds in a draped cloth, or folds in a bent leaf), the best starting point is to thoroughly examine and analyze the object to be duplicated. I realize that an ‘Anatomy of Folds’ is a book length topic, so instead, this article introduces some fundamental principles along with a little ‘how-to’ exercise for practice.
Ripples compress on inside of bend
Ripples flatten on outside of bend
Direction of fold is perpendicular to both sides
Top surface is tapered smoothly
The taper connects the peaks of ripples
V-gouge starts gap between first tight folds
Gap widens toward the outside edge
Carve convex surface using gouge face down
Bottom half of ripple is a concave surface
Use drill to open gap in bottom of folds
Carve bottom to create a deep shadow
First of all, let’s consider the nature of the material being folded. Very few materials stretch unless they are being pulled. If they are pulled, they are flattened, thus eliminating the folds. This is logical. However, the dimensions of a material, even when folded, must stay reasonably constant. As a result, if the material is raised in one spot, the width must decrease. For the practice exercise, I have kept the ends the same length. Due to the bend in the material, the ripples must be adjusted for the sides to remain equal lengths. As a fold is flattened, it becomes shorter in height. The direction of a fold remains perpendicular to both sides.
With these basic points in mind, let’s carve a surface (like a piece of cloth) with a series of folds and a 90º bend.
For this exercise, I used a 5″ by 8″ piece of basswood that was approximately 1″ thick and cut out the curved shape with my bandsaw.
The basic ideas presented in this article are widely applicable whenever folds are involved.
The next article in this series will present a project where folds are a major and significant element.