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Paper Folding for the Practical Person

A photo essay illustrating a particular paper folding technique.

WHERNTO: erudite  notions  techniq 

image of Paper Folding for the Practical Person

The process of folding paper is a rewarding one since it provides an opportunity to exercise one's creativity within strict outcomes. Furthermore, the finished product of this activity has various utilitarian applications as will be illustrated in the second part of this article. Though many types of folding exist, we will restrict ourselves in this document to the class of bifolds. Future articles may be published which deal with folding of greater complexities.

Precision paper folding demonstrated

The first step for the serious and conscientious folder to undertake is to acquire an assortment of folding tools and become familiar with them. One may of course be tempted to purchase power folding equipment, but such mechanization invariably diminishes much of the joy from this activity, the 'hands-on' aspect having been removed. One doesn't require much for manual folding as will be seen below.

A most pragmatic tool to have is a flat table (though a grand piano will likely do in a pinch).

A typical flat table.

Do not try to fold paper with a non-flat table as these are not as effective nor are they particularly easy to come by. Flat tables are often found in your neighbor's living quarters such as a kitchen or dining room. Usually with minimal coercion, this item can be relocated to your work area.

Neighbor somewhat incredulous about table transport.

One specific advantage of effecting this course of action is that it may be difficult for your neighbor to take the table back out in which case you can emphasize that given the circumstances, you will not trouble him/her a second time for the same item.

Neighbor exhibiting possessively irate tendencies.

Having gained access to a flat table, the next required item is a standard physics book. If you were sufficiently negligent enough to separate yourself from your physics book in the past, you can always turn to your helpful neighbor rather than going out to buy one, but be sure to do so before explaining the difficulties he/she may encounter in trying to return the flat table to its previous location.

A final essential of course is to have material for these tools to work on. In other words, you require paper to fold. Once again, your neighbor may be able to supply you. Taking paper from your neighbor provides more than the benefit of house-cleaning to him/her, because you never know what documents will be gratefully handed over, such as various identifications, credit card statements, compromising correspondence etc. Not only can paper folding be a relaxing pastime, this mere hobby may eventually lead to entirely new career opportunities for you!

Now you are set to proceed.

First place the physics book on the flat table in the normal way a physics book ought to be placed for you will need to do some preliminary reading.

physics book
Physics book on table in normal position.

Open the physics book and find the table of contents which is usually near the front of the book. Start reading through it till you come to the Appendix listing which is usually inserted towards the end of the table of contents. Do not go to the actual Appendix which will likely be at the other end of the book. Instead, turn the book 90 degrees (or π/2 radians, if you prefer) clockwise. Note that the book's right edge should be parallel to the edge of the table.

open physics book
Physics book placed at π/2 radian orientation and opened.

Positioning yourself directly in front of the book, take your paper and place it so that the leading edge is against the middle of the book.

paper in physics book
Paper placed correctly in physics book.

Then take the edge that is closest to you and line it up in the same fashion.

folded paper
Folded paper in physics book.

Notice how conveniently the two edges line up with each other thanks to the effect of a physics book!

Carefully follow the paper back with your hands and crease the developing fold with your thumb, unless you prefer to use an alternate finger or some other part of your body.

crease paper
Creasing paper using digital appendage.

Creasing can become increasingly fatiguing upon the body part employed and so various mechanisms can be utilized to alleivate this dilemma. One of the most effective is to take your neighbor's math book and while holding the paper down firmly in its semi-folded position, press the former against the paper towards you thus forming the crease. Such a system is poetically appropos since physics often utilizes mathematical concepts.

Utilization of math book to crease paper.

However, if by unhappy chance you are unable to acquire a math book, as a last resort you may use an unabridged dictionary, which is arguably suitable since physics is required in the building of bridges.

Unabridged dictionary creasing technique demonstrated.

You can repeat this process a second time if you want a second fold and continue the action several times. Do not however try to exceed folding a paper in half more than x times where x has been empirically shown to be around 7 for all practical efforts regardless of the size of the paper (but up to 12 in special cases as demonstrated by Britney Gallivan in 2001).

After each paper has been folded according to the specifications required, you can take a break by reading a chapter in either the physics or math book and doing the odd-numbered problems. However, be sure to return to the end of the table of contents of the former when starting on your next page.

Various applications for folded paper

Below we list the many things you can do with folded paper. Each illustration is shown with a photograph captioned for clarity.

Brochure - very effective for advertising.
Fan - an honored, centuries old device.
Portable notepad which is easy to carry and write in.
Versatile office organizer for stationery.
Effective manual massage unit.
Holder for cd/dvd - remove items with care.
Make shift hat - don't wear in rain or wind.
Fake moustache - use only for halloween events.
Temporary chew toy (do not try to substitute for dental floss).
Horn covers to be used when needed.
Martial arts weapon - demonstration by G'ar Thso, Master of Kungfold Clan.
Makeshift torch - handy for providing light or for the budding arsonist.