Hot Math Craft Posts

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.

News: Palm-Sized Pentakis Dodecahedron

I finally got around to making the pentakis dodecahedron from the instructions in Math Craft admin Cory Poole's blog post. It's not tightened/straightened up yet because I just noticed that I have two black and white and two blue and green compound modules next to each other (but no purple and pink modules next to each other—to the math experts, this is a parity thing, as you can only have even numbers of modules paired up next to each other).

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.

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...

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.

How To: Create Concentric Circles, Ellipses, Cardioids & More Using Straight Lines and a Circle

Using only a circle and straight lines, it's possible to create many different curves that are quite pleasing to look at and well known mathematically. Most of the curves that are going to be explored in this post are featured at this site, which has a program for generating them, and this site which explores some of the geometry used in creating these curves. I recommend exploring both of them if you are going to create any of the designs below.

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...

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: More String Art

I was browsing 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.

How To: Make Icosahedral Planet Ornaments

In honor of the new Astronomy World, I thought we should look at a few planetary icosahedrons. The icosahedron is the most round of the Platonic solids with twenty faces, thus has the smallest dihedral angles. This allows it to unfold into a flat map with a reasonably acceptable amount of distortion. In fact, Buckminster Fuller tried to popularize the polyhedral globe/map concept with his Dymaxion Map.

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!

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: Holy String Art, Batman! 6 of the Coolest Thread Art Projects Ever

You may remember string art from your elementary school days. If so, it probably makes you think of the 2D geometrical designs that took every ounce of patience you had as a kid. Or those laborious curve stitch drawings, which string art was actually birthed from. But thanks to some innovative modern artists, string art has gotten a lot more interesting. Here are some of the most creative applications so far.

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.

How To: Carve Fractals and Stars on Pumpkins

Fractals and stars are two of the most beautiful and complicated-looking classes of geometric objects out there. We're going to explore these objects and how to carve them on a pumpkin. Unlike the last one on carving polyhedral pumpkins, where we used the entire pumpkin to carve a 3 dimensional shape, the pumkin carving in this post will involve two-dimensional images on a small part of the pumpkin's surface.

News: DIY Papercraft Architecture with Lighting

This is probably the least "Mathy" thing I will ever post. In my opinion, it's impossible to have architecture that isn't mathematical in some sense, so I am posting it anyway. Two years ago, I made a papercraft version of a cathedral in Christchurch New Zealand (It was severely damaged in an earthquake earlier this year) and cut holes for all of the windows and lit it with LED lights. I gave it to my Mom as a Christmas gift. I thought it made for a pretty amazing "Christmas Village" piece.

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: The Curved Geometric Paper Sculptures of Richard Sweeney

Richard Sweeney is an incredible artist whose body of work consists mainly of sculptures made from paper. His art is often related to origami, and much of his work is related to geometrical forms. I personally really love his modular forms in paper. Many of them are based off of the platonic solids, which have been discussed in previous posts this week. Below are a small number of his sculptures, which are very geometric in nature.

News: Twisted Small Stellated Dodecahedron Tensegrity

This is a zigzag tensegrity based on a small stellated dodecahedron. There are string pentagons on the outside of the model where the vertices have opened. It is made of thirty units, consisting of a barbecue stick pair with a loop of elastic. The stick pairs are all "floating", and weave through the model without contacting any other stick pairs. It is quite tricky to assemble, but can be done entirely by hand.

News: Escher Tessellated Polyhedra

After Cory Poole posted some great Escher snowflakes, and Cerek Tunca had the great idea of using it as a base for a tetrahedron, well, I just had to give it a go. I will post a few more pictures and variants later (I think this was what Cerek was envisaging—if not let me know!)

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.

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