Hot Math Craft Posts

How To: Make the Platonic Solids Out of Playing Cards

Computer Science Professor Francesco De Comité has a fantastic gallery of mathematical images on Flickr. As part of this collection, he has a few hundred images of real or rendered polyhedra made out of paper or playing cards which he calls "slide togethers." These are constructed by making cuts and then sliding one component into the other, creating a shape without using any glue. He constructed the entire set of the platonic solids—the cards form their edges—which can be seen in the image b...

How To: Make 6-Sided Kirigami Snowflakes

We've all made them. I remember making hundreds of paper snowflakes when I was in elementary school. You take a piece of paper and fold it in half, then fold it in half again. You now have a piece that is one fourth the size of the original. Now you fold it in half diagonally. You then cut slices out of the edges of the paper, and unfold to find that you have created a snowflake. The resulting snowflake has four lines of symmetry and looks something like this: If you fold it in half diagonall...

News: Math Craft Inspiration of the Week: The Kinetic Wave Sculptures of Reuben Margolin

Reuben Margolin builds large scale kinetic sculptures based off of mechanical waves. Some of his sculptures contain hundreds of pulleys all working in harmony with each other to create sinusoidal waves and their resulting interference patterns. He designs them all on paper and does all of the complicated trigonometric calculations by hand. Everything is mechanical; there are no electronic controllers.

How To: Make Yin-Yang Modular Polyhedra

Last Thursday's post demonstrated how to Make Yin-Yang Pillow boxes, which were based on equilateral triangles and squares. The units for making these boxes were created by Phillip Chapman-Bell, who runs an amazing origami blog and has a spectacular flickr photostream. Using these units, you can make also make 4 of the 5 platonic solids. I made an additional template based on the regular pentagon so that the dodecahedron can be built completing the set.

How To: Make Torus Knots from Soft Metals

Torus knots are beautiful knots formed by wrapping a line around a torus and tying the ends together to form a loop. The resulting knot has a star-like appearance when viewed from above. The 36 examples with the least number of crossings can be seen at the Knot Atlas's page on torus knots.

News: Math Craft Inspiration of the Week: Electrically Generated Fractal Branching Patterns

Natural processes often create objects that have a fractal quality. Fractal branching patterns occur in plants, blood vessel networks, rivers, fault lines, and in several electrical phenomena. Many of these processes take lifetimes, or even occur on geological timescales. But this is not the case for electrical phenomena. They often occur near instantaneously. One example would be the branching patterns that sometimes occur in lightning.

News: 180 Unit Sonobe Buckyball

I wondered how silly you could get with sonobe, and had a bash at a buckyball, which is a fullerene (technically a truncated isocahedron; you can see a simple model here). It's twelve pentagons—each surrounded by 5 hexagons (20 in total)—making a football shape in England or a soccer ball shape in the USA.

Modular Origami: How to Make a Cube, Octahedron & Icosahedron from Sonobe Units

Modular origami is a technique that can be used to build some pretty interesting and impressive models of mathematical objects. In modular origami, you combine multiple units folded from single pieces of paper into more complicated forms. The Sonobe unit is a simple example unit from modular origami that is both easy to fold and compatible for constructing a large variety of models. Below are a few models that are easy to make using this unit.

News: Origami Sierpinski Tetrahedron Constructed with 250+ Modules

I've already posted a brief roundup of interesting models folded by Michal Kosmulski, expert orgami-ist and IT director at NetSprint. However, I didn't include my favorite model, because I felt it deserved its own post. Kosmulski folded an elaborate and large Sierpinski tetrahedron, which he deems "level 3" in difficulty. (Translation: hard). It is constructed with 128 modules and 126 links, based on Nick Robinson's trimodule.

How To: Make a Hyperbolic Paraboloid Using Skewers

In Monday's post, we created a sliceform model of a hyperbolic paraboloid. In today's post, we will create a similar model using skewers. The hyperbolic paraboloid is a ruled surface, which means that you can create it using only straight lines even though it is curved. In fact, the hyperbolic paraboloid is doubly ruled and is one of only three curved surfaces than can be created using two distinct lines passing through each point. The others are the hyperboloid and the flat plane.

Modular Origami: How to Make a Truncated Icosahedron, Pentakis Dodecahedron & More

Last post, the Sonobe unit was introduced as a way to use multiple copies of a simply folded piece of paper to make geometric objects. In this post, we are going to explore that concept further by making two more geometric models. The first is the truncated icosahedron, which is a common stitching pattern for a soccer ball. The second was supposed to be the pentakis dodecahedron, but through systematic errors last night, I actually built a different model based off of the rhombic triacontahed...

News: More String Art

I was browsing Reddit.com yesterday and noticed this post. User guyanonymous (yes I am really crediting him regardless of his name!) had posted up this string-art picture which has parabolic curves created from straight lines and gave me permission to post it up here on the corkboard. I love the repeating "flower" pattern.

News: Making Art with the Golden Ratio

You can do some pretty cool stuff with the golden ratio. The image above is made from taking each quarter-circle in the golden spiral and expanding it into a full circle. In the second image, the spiral and the golden rectangles are overlaid on the the first image, showing how it works.

News: Nice Range of Modular Models

A source of inspiration... Models folded and photographed by Michal Kosmulski. There are only two sets of instructions on the site, but they are very well done. I wish he had covered more of the models. Here are a few I would like to tackle (I'll admit my eyes are bigger than my plate):

How To: Make a Two Circle Wobbler from CDs

One of my favorite simple projects is building two circle wobblers. I love how such a simple object amazes with its motion. The two circle wobbler is an object made out of two circles connected to each other in such a way that the center of mass of the object doesn't move up or down as it rolls. This means that it will roll very easily down a slight incline. It will also roll for a significant distance on a level surface if you start it by giving it a small push or even by blowing on it!

How To: Make a 'Flex Mex'—A Mathematically Delicious Hexaflexagon Burrito

Here's a great excuse to play with your food—and learn some math while you're at it. We've all seen a hexaflexagon folded out of paper, but how about a burrito? Vi Hart, a "mathmusician" over at the Khan Academy, came up with the Flex Mex, a burrito folded into a hexaflexagon with all the toppings inside. The spreadable ingredients (guacamole, sour cream and salsa) go inside the folds, then it's topped with beans and cheese.

News: Mathematical Quilting

I got hooked on origami sometime after Math Craft admin Cory Poole posted instructions for creating modular origami, but I had to take a break to finish a quilt I've been working on for a while now. It's my first quilt, and very simple in its construction (straight up squares, that's about it), but it got me thinking about the simple geometry and how far you could take the design to reflect complex geometries. Below are a few cool examples I found online.

News: Parabolic Art in EL-Wire by Ben Yates

This is a new line of work I've started - inspired by string art of Archimedean Lines, these are 3-dimensional sculptures made using Electro-Luminescent Wire weaved around a clear acrylic frame. They hang on the wall, but each has a sense of depth so their look alters from different angles. The EL-Wire is a copper wire coated with a phosphor so it glows its entire length, and then coated with a plastic sleeve so that it can be handled and bend around any shape.

News: DIY Origami Christmas Tree

This is how my version of an origami Christmas tree turned out based on the instructions I posted awhile back. Cory also made a version from white glossy paper, which looks great. I opted for the green and brown look, but it wasn't easy.

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