Math Craft Features

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.

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: 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 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: Cyriak Harris' Fractal Freakiness

I'm sure many of you have already seen this, but being Halloween and mathematically inspired, I thought I'd dig up an old favorite for those who may have missed it. Original post with quote from Cyriak here. More fractal hands: Tim Hawkinson's "Fruit" Series

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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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

News: Orderly Tangle Earrings

I decided I would make those earrings I alluded to in Monday's Post on orderly tangles. I had to shrink the templates down so that the triangles are about 2 cm on a side. I used 110 lb cardstock and and painted them using metallic leafing paint in gold, silver, copper, and brass. I would put up a tutorial, except I think that this project would be too frustrating for most people. All I can suggest is that you make the orderly tangle of 4 triangles multiple times and just keep shrinking the si...

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: A 3-in-1 Model

These drawings were made with Google SketchUp. There is a dodecahedral model, icosahedral model, and a third I don't know the name of, made of rhombic faces obtained by connecting vertices of the other two. The final image is all three models together. I'll use a ShopBot CNC router to cut out the pieces this week.

Silver & Gold: DIY Modular Origami Christmas Ornaments

After becoming addicted to basic sonobe modular origami, I decided to make ornaments for relatives as Christmas gifts. I tried using fancy paper from stores like Paper Source, and cutting it to proper origami size, but I could never get the tight folds I wanted with non-traditional, non-origami paper. I ended up using this metallic origami paper that folds beautifully, and I'm pretty happy with the tiny models I ended up with. Forgive these pictures (iPhone/Instagram), I don't have my regular...

How To: Make Fractal Cupcakes

Last post, we looked at fractal cookies based off of the recipe by Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories. In this post, we'll follow their recipe for fractal cupcakes based off of the Koch Snowflake, which we used previously to decorate pumpkins for Halloween.

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.

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!

Mathematical Holiday Ornaments: Escher "Snow Flakes"

This week's post on creating 6-sided Kirigami Snowflakes got me interested in seeing whether I could use the process to create tessellation snowflakes using the method. I still haven't succeeded, but I did decide to make some ornaments based off a few of the tessellations by M.C. Escher that have a 6 sided symmetry.