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Paper Grain

Magdalena Cano Plewinska asks how to detect the grain of paper.(14th, December)

One way to detect the grain of a piece of paper is merely to balance the sheet on one's finger at the centre point.The paper will then curve with the grain, which should be immediately observable. Square paper is ideal for this purpose and it should work too with circular paper and any other reasonably regular convex shape. Obviously it will not work with very large paper or paper of an irregular shape, where factors other than grain contribute to the way it curves.

Another way, which works best with square paper, is to bring two opposite corners of the paper together as though you were going to make a diagonal crease. Hold the two corners together between the tips of the finger and thumb of one hand and cradle the curved (but not creased) paper along the diagonal in the V between the thumb and forefinger of the other hand.

Then release the finger and thumb that hold the corners together.The corners of the paper will spring apart to the left and the right and the paper will try to conform itself so that it is curved along the grain. Continue the movement of the paper until it is in a book fold. The book fold will indicate the line of the grain. Paper is always more ready to curve along the grain than across it.

Yoshizawa habitually tests the grain of the paper before he folds it. He not only wants to know the line of the grain for the physical purposes of folding, but he seeks an intimacy with the paper which will show him its life, before he begins to transform it into a creature that has life.

David Lister

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