Math Craft Features

How To: Make Knot Sculptures from Soft Metals

In mathematics, a knot is a closed circle in a three-dimensional space that crosses itself multiple times. Since it is closed, it has no ends to tie, meaning you can't actually create such a knot. However, if you tie the ends together after you create a knot in the standard way, you will have something that is close to the mathematical description. In this post, we will explore the creation of mathematical knot sculputures using copper tubing and solid solder wire.

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: 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: DIY Fractal Gingerbreadmen

After I made a blog and sent it to my friends about how I made Gingerbreadman Map fractal holiday cookies, one of them linked me back to the Sierpinski Carpet cookies, which I loved! So, I thought I'd share my how-to with everyone as well!

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 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.

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):

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.

You Won't Believe They Roll: How to Build Half Circle and Elliptical Wobblers

If you thought the last post on Two Circle Wobblers was wild, then wait until you see what happens when you build wobblers out of two half circles or two ellipses. In both of these cases, the center of gravity still remains constant in the vertical direction, allowing them to roll down the slightest of inclines or even travel a significant distance on a level surface if given a push or even when blown on.

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 Curve-Crease Sculptures of Erik Demaine

Erik Demaine is a Professor of Electronic Engineering and Comp Sci at MI, but he is also an origami folder who has had work displayed at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC. He makes some beautiful models and intricate puzzles, but in my opinion the really inspirational work is the curved creased models. In Erik's own words describing the above models: "Each piece in this series connects together multiple circular pieces of paper (between two and three full circles) to make a large circular ramp ...

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: 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: Modular Origami

Cory has posted some great picture of Father Magnus' intersecting cubes (the great man is holding one in his right hand) - well the above is what happens when five tetrahedra intersect. It is modular origami and made from just ten sheets of origami paper. technically in a folding sense it is easy - but putting it together is mind-warping

How To: Carve Polyhedral Pumpkins

Halloween is coming up, so many of you may have a need or desire to carve a pumpkin and turn it into a Jack O' Lantern. This week we are going to explore carving our pumpkins into interesting geometric shapes. In this post, we will carve the pumpkins into spherical versions of polyhedra, and in Thursday's post we will carve 2 dimensional stars and some simple fractal designs into the pumpkins.

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.

How To: Make a Sonobe Jasmine Dodecahedron

Math Craft admin Cory Poole posted instructions on How to Make a Cube, Octahedron & Icosahedron from Sonobe Units, plus some great complex models in his article, How to Make a Truncated Icosahedron, Pentakis Dodecahedron & More. These models use the standard sonobe unit and a coloured variant.

News: M.C. Escher Square Tessellation Ornaments

Imatfaal's awesome post on Escher's tessellations on Polyhedra reminded me of some ornaments I made this summer. I made some of Escher's square tessellations onto cubes and then reprojected them onto spheres. I actually used a 60 sided Deltoidal hexecontahedron since that net is fairly easy to fold and looks pretty round.

News: Mathematical Knitting

Looking into mathematical quilting, I came across a community of mathematical knitters. Check out Dr. Sarah-Marie Belcastro's (research associate at Smith college and lecturer at U Mass Amherst) mathematical knitting resource page.

News: Tom Friedman's Twisted Math Art

Tom Friedman is one of my favorite artists. He's got a great sense of humor, and his work is meticulous and beautiful. He forays into Math Art, and from a partisan perspective, he seems to be inspired by mathematics, but the end results are more of a whimsical twist than a mathematically "correct" execution. But I could be totally wrong. Comment below and fill me in.

News: Rotating Mirror Stellated Octahedron

The initial idea for this project was to use magnets in the tips of the stellated octahedron and the intersections of the metal rings for either suspension or even a sort of weightless rotation. This turned out to be a bit too ambitious considering I'm working with found mirror and hot glue. So instead, I scrapped the magnets and went with simply mounting it on a skateboard bearing so it can freely rotate and not be bound to the base.

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: More Kirigami Snowflakes

I spent a little bit more time making 6 sided Kirigami Snowflakes using the method of this post. I'm really happy with how all of these turned out. I'd love to see other people post up some snowflakes. They're easy and a lot of fun. And I could use some more inspiration!