March 19, 2017
Just realized I spelled “Kaleidocycle” wrong on this model for a project I’m putting together for Fifth Graders! Well, good, we’ll talk about mistakes.
Now, in case you missed my post about kaleidocycles, they are this fun paper structure whose sides rotate to reveal a surprising number of new surfaces. This style of kaleidocycle here has four completely different faces, each of which has 3 distinct areas to fill with text or designs. Sort of like a fortune teller, but more 3D.
I’m not person who is skilled in doing hand lettering to create fancy looking phrases. Nor do I think that I can teach 5th graders to be hand lettering artists in a few class periods. But I love this art form, and am happy to be able to talk to kids about hand lettering.
We’ll be doing a project that references the first 10 amendments to the American Constitution. darn. Spelled Amendments wrong too. Ok, will make a new model with corrections. But will show both to students.
Anyone who does calligraphy or hand lettering will tell you that making spelling mistakes happens frequently when so much effort is being put into forming the letters. People with dyslexia will agree.
Here’s the project. I will talk to students about creating something like a movie title which references each of the first ten amendments, aka The Bill of Rights (know them or lose them!!). Students will then be given some alphabets and will trace out the letters.
They can also add flourishes around their words.
My version for the model that I will be showing off, featuring later amendments, looked like this when the computer work was done:I will print the student images on 28 lb, 8 1/2″ x 11″ copy paper. My plan is that each student will design just one of the 12 surfaces on this kaleidocycle (there happen to be just 12 students in this class). I will print up enough copies for everyone and we’ll spend the last of the three sessions I have with them doing cutting, gluing and decorating.
When this project is done I will take photos and post on my blog, recommending either that you try this out with your students or telling you that have to be crazy to think that this can be done as three-meeting classroom project for fifth grade students.
All will be told be the end of the first week in April. Yikes. Starting this project tomorrow, early.
March 14, 2017
When Miriam Schaer was assembling her teaching collection to send to Telavi University in the Republic of Georgia, I very much wanted to contribute, but nothing I had on hand seemed right. In the nick of time, some thoughts came colliding together.
This structure started out with an exploration of a shape which I wrote about a few weeks ago after watching family math video made by the Lawlers.
The colorful pages rotate open to create these double layered corners. The polygon fractals on the pages here are harvested from Dan Anderson’s openprocessing page then toyed with in Photoshop.
To see the fractals in their full radiant radial symmetry one must rotate the book. There are six completely different images to be seen. But it gets more interesting, because there is a whole other side to see.
The folds of those double layered corners completely reverse to form a cube!
You can’t imagine how excited I was when I saw this cube emerge from the folds!
This folded structure totally suggested that, whatever I use on it, that it be about the dual nature of….something….a suitcase (no, too obvious), a politician’s statements (ugh, too boring)…actually wanted to use images that didn’t imply any hierarchy, hiding, agendas, or judgement about contrasting inner and outer manifestations.
It was this thinking, about duality but equality of visuals, which led me to using Dan’s code along with the polygon fractals that it creates. So perfect. Code and images are perfectly linked, simply completely different ways of seeing the same thing. You know, like Blonde Brunette Redhead
Now, I do have a lingering unresolved issue with this book. I’m not thrilled with the paper that I’ve used. It’s 32lb Finch Fine Color Copy paper. It takes color beautifully, folds well, but I’m thinking that the folds might be more prone to tearing than is comfortable. Not sure what else to use…am open for suggestions. Miriam’s copy has been shipped, but I’m still happy to check out different papers to use.
I can’t help but wonder if people will be able to figure the transformation of these pages without seeing this post or reading the brief explanation I’ve provided on the back page of the book? Dunno.
Hanging a tea light from a pencil so I can see the inside and outside at the same time.
March 9, 2017
Miriam Schaer has flown of to the Republic of Georgia, taking with her something even more precious than the good wishes of her book arts community: she has taken their books!
Just over a year ago I sat with Miriam at the Grolier Club in NYC as we waited for our friend Mindell Dubansky to take the stage to talk about the exhibition she curated of blooks (objects that look like books). At the time, Miriam was pondering over making some changes in her life, though she did not yet have a handle on what that would look like. Today she’s in Eastern Europe/ Western Asia, having been awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to teach artist books at Telavi State University.
Before leaving, Miriam invited the book arts community to send her their books with the idea of building what she called a “teaching collection,” recognizing that the act of holding a handmade book in one’s own hands has a way imparting inspiration.
The book arts community reacted quickly and generously.
As the books rolled in, Miriam posted photos of the book on a Facebook page. All of the book images that I am posting here have been culled from her FB wall, which I will include, along with her other in links, in the bottom of this post.
It been an adventure just to check in to see how her collection has been growing over the past couple of months.
I suspect these books by Susan Joy Share have seen the most air miles: they started with Susan in Alaska, were flown to Miriam in Brooklyn, then were packed up to meet Miriam in a country flanked by Turkey, Russian and the Black Sea.
Miriam will be writing about her book arts teaching at the University. She already begun her writing. Looks like she is starting with making felted books.
I absolutely wanted to contribute to Miriam’s collection. It took me way too long to come up with something to send. I started on something, had trouble working it out, then missed Miriam’s deadline. A friend encouraged me to just keep at it and send the book when it was done. This gave me the space to realize that, hey, if need be, I could just send it to Republic of Georgia directly.
But, phew! was able to get a book to Miriam just three days before she left town. She received one from an edition of books, which are housed in these green boxes, and which I will write about in my next post. Until then, to see what’s within, you’ll have to visit Miriam FB page. Here are links to that page, as well as her blog, and her teaching blog.
February 19, 2017
I looked up the definition of a tetrahedron today, I figured out how to spell kaleidocycle a few hours ago. Just saying.
Sometimes an exploration pursues me. It’s always a gift to be preyed upon by ideas, but if my desk is already full and messy, and I think I can’t bear adding one more layer I pretend to kind of ignore the newcomer. No, this strategy doesn’t work.
I didn’t know that tetrahedrons were following me around. Like I said, just this morning I finally looked up the definition (a solid having four plane triangular faces; a triangular pyramid).
The image above is where this all started. This is not such a startling set of pictures until you know that the image shows the same, unchanged structure viewed from front and back. It’s on the facebook page of someone whose name is written in an alphabet I don’t understand. This is the link to the page on facebook https://www.facebook.com/artsmathematics/videos/718044448365422/ . Take a look if you can. It’s such an amazing bit of transformation, which I have yet to figure out how to do. What’s going on here is that this structure to made up of connected 3D shapes that rotate together to reveal different surfaces. It’s very tricky and fun to see the shapes turn, revealing new surfaces.
The next piece of this story is that a teacher just a bit south of me in Upstate NY posted some directions on how to build a certain geometric shape, and he asked, via twitter, if anyone would be able to test drive his tutorial. It looked simple enough to me, so I thought I’d try it out the following Saturday morning. I thought it would take about 2o minutes. Ha ha.
Looking back, I think if this teacher, Mr.Kaercher, had done a tutorial on a simple tetrahedron it might have gone more quickly and I might have finished up knowing what a tetrahedron was. But, no, Mr. K provided directions for a tensegrity tetrahedron, and since I didn’t have much of a clue about the definition of either term, I didn’t really have much of an idea of what I was doing.
Even so, after a megillah of failures, I got it done and was quite pleased with myself.
In the meantime I was still thinking about those images from that facebook page.
I showed the FB clip to book artist Ed Hutchins. He told me that what I was looking at was a type of kaleidocycle.
Oh, and Ed just happened to have a hot-off-the-presses copy of what is probably the world’s most amazing example of a hexagonal kaleidocycle, designed by Simon Arizpe. (This is a fully funded Kickstarter Project, which you can view to see the book in motion.)
This structure tells a story as it rotates. Since these rotating sides can turn forwards or backwards, the sequence of the story is determined by the direction the viewer rotates the kaleidocycle. The way that I choose to turn it, it begins with a bear peeking out at a stream…
…the bear opens his mouth, a salmon jumps out…
… and then the salmon jumps into the river. There’s one more frame, but I’m not going to be a spoiler and show it to you.
So what does this have to do with tetrahedrons? I’m getting there.
As it turns out, the last couple of times I’ve gone lurking at the Lawler family math page, they’ve been looking at, yes, tetrahedrons.
This shape that the Lawler’s were considering was beginning to look familiar to me. Part of the reason for this was that, ever since Ed had given me the gift of the term kaleidocycle I had been Googling around then assembling kaleidocycles.
Here’s one of my first attempts. Notice that I forgot to attach the ends together before I closed things up. This turned out to be a good thing, because, wait! these shapes appear to be repeated echoes of the shape that the Lawler family was exploring.
Just to pile it on, it certainly helped that just yesterday a package came in the mail, all the way from France, from Simon Gregg. In the package was, can you guess?… a tetrahedron.
That Saturday a few week ago that I tried, time after time, to create my tensegrity tetrahedron, I had been posting my failures publicly on twitter. I imagine that Simon thought that it might be merciful to send me some bamboo, as the straws that I was using would sometimes collapse. Included with the bamboo rods, Simon also gave me a collapsible tetrahedron, held together by stretchy cord.
With all of these pieces floating around me it, I finally made the connection that units of kaleidocycles are series of tetrahedrons.
Now to reward you for making it all the way to the end of this post, here is a pattern for a kaleidocycle that you can make yourself.
Just cut it out, use it alone or attach it to the one near the top of this post, but, in either case, do make sure you attach ends to make it circular. Here’s a pleasant little video to show you how it’s put together.
I still intend to figure out how to make the kaleidocycle that I saw on FB. When I do sit down and try it out, at least, now, I feel like I’m starting with some helpful understandings.
I have no big attachment to figuring it out for myself, so if you are inspired to decipher it, please let me in on its secrets!
That’s it for now. Thanks for staying with me through these meanderings.
Used bamboo sticks with bobby pins in the ends to make another one of the Mark Kaercher project. The bamboo worked out great! If I was to make this again with straws, I think I’d try to first put stirrers, like what Starbucks provides to stir coffee, inside the straws. But love the bamboo!