Playing with Paper Rolls

It is amazing how many ways a paper roll can be transformed.

Have you ever tried? I really had much fun, just using a so simple, waste material…

First of all, observe and handle a roll from different points of view, without thinking of any precise goal. What does it “suggest” you to do? The starting point can be whatever very simple action, like a cut. Then, see where it will take you and enjoy the process.


The simple action of cutting opens an endless range of possibilities, by varying the number, the direction, the width or the lenght of cuts, and then combining these variations.

What happens if the cut parts are folded in many different ways? Again, the possible transformations multiply.


You could try both a geometrical, mathematical approach (as shown in the image below on the left) and a completely random one, making new discoveries by chance.

For example, I found a shape just randomly cutting in different directions and that shape (image below on the right) inspired me to roll the cut stripes like waves. Then I explored this specific action (that was new for me) through several variations with other rolls, in a more systematic way.


It is also very interesting to investigate all the movements and sounds that are made possible by the transformations. This kind of process is led by hands and by the characteristics of the material.

As you can see in the video below, hands “are thinking”.


What about an encounter between the paper roll and another material?

How can they dialogue?


Several paper rolls or parts of them can be combined together for creating more complex structures.


We can also divide the paper roll into small parts and use them for create patterns.


What is the difference between using paper rolls for kids crafts vs exploring the grammar of the same material?

A kids craft is a a goal itself, a ready product that encloses the final outcome and the way to get it from the very beginning – so that the creative process is often a repetitive execution of instructions.


By exploring the grammar of paper rolls, on the other hand, unexpected paths will unfold through both limits and potential of the material. And you will probably come to some unexpected outcomes: the beauty of action is not lost!

Enjoy your playful explorations!


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