A paperfolding paradise
The website of writer and paperfolding designer David Mitchell
|Fold and Cut Designs and Effects|
page attempts to set out what is known about the history
of Fold and Cut Effects. Please contact me if you know
that the information on this page is incorrect or if you
know of important omissions. Thank you.
In Fold and Cut Designs paper, or sometimes card, is first folded into a smaller shape, cut, either once, or repeatedly, across the folded edge or edges, to either create slits or remove sections of the paper, then opened out to reveal the finished shape, pattern or form.
There is a subset of this category of design, which may more specifically be known as Fold and One Cut Designs, in which the paper is folded in such away that it is possible to obtain a given shape with just a single cut. Such designs are frequently presented as puzzles.
The earliest known example of a Fold and Cut Design (in fact a Fold and One Cut Design presented as a puzzle) occurs in the book 'Wakoku Chiyekurabe' (Mathematical Contests) by Kan Chu Sen which was published in Japan in 1721.
The target shape bears a distinct resemblance to the kamon (family badge) of the Ogasawara family shown below (see https://www.samurai-archives.com/crest5.html).
The effect of cutting a Latin Cross from a rectangle first appears in 'The Girl's Own Book' by Lydia Marie Child, which was published by Clark Austin and Co in New York in 1833.
A paper read by William J. Canby to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania in March 1870 entitled 'The History of the Flag of the United States' mentions the Fold and One Cut Pentagram, also sometimes known as the Betsy Ross Star.
The well known method of cutting / tearing a Paper Doily from a folded square which is still in regular use as a craft activity in British primary schools occurs in 'Hanky Panky' by W H Cremer, Jun, which was published by John Camden Hotten in London in 1872, under the title 'How to Make an Anti-Macassar'.