Friday, September 25, 2020

Zoom on a not so solid Solid...

Last year I worked on 2 major projects. One was my "Fantasy" chess play for the  2020 Beadworker's Guild Challenge, and the other one was this fun bauble, the Triskele Bauble. And Oh! some of my work got selected to appear at the 2019 Math & Fashion show in Linz. Perhaps I should enter this bauble in the 2021 show? I might need to find its exact name though... what solid could it be, hmmm?

It took a year to find out how to create this tantalizing Triskele bauble

You can order the Bridges Linz 2019
Math +Fasion Look Book here

So yes, I entered the 2019 Bridges Art & Math show with a jewelry set and  a necklace. 8 years separate the two pieces. Surprise, both were accepted. Some time after that, a beautiful Look Book was published, and I can't express how pleased I am to be included, together with many wonderful bead artists whom I appreciate tremendously, notably the CGB team and Kris Empting-Obenland.

I didn't expect to be selected because, admittedly, mathematics are not my "thing", but when I bead, I count, and measure lengths. Of a wrist or neck, or whatever object I wish to cover... I make forms. Shapes. Geometrics. And there is a math formula for everything, be it already known, or not yet. There must be one for the Triskele bauble.

The necklace, "Connectedness" (2009) was entirely made with multiples of 11 beads. Loops (and bridges) of 11, 22, 33 and 44 beads were added to form a web similar to the skirt of the maiden veil mushroom. It chants the beautiful bridges we beaders build thanks to the Internet, eg. computer technology, hence the wink to binary code and the world wide web.

Connectedness is part technique, part art and part poetry.


The set was composed of tetrahedron-shaped items. My "Open Hearts" chain (as a bracelet), Open Heart earings, a necklace called Chirimania - sliding cords with an Open heart pendant and an Open Heart bail folded inside out, and Mermaid Tail cord ends. (2018)

I was asked to send a photo with the jewelry worn, to give a sense of proportion.
Had I known that it would be included in their look book, I would have
goodied myself up a bit - but I didn't expect to be selected.


These semi-rigid shapes are all made in the same manner - Rick Racks - with the same beads, but either folded differently while beading, or started either with an even or an odd number of beads at the beginning. They are closed in the case of the cord ends to hide the knots in the cord. It still stuns me that it is possible to obtain so many different shapes by folding beadwork. Learn more about it in this article.


Playing with shapes is fun. However, it is not easy to talk about things without a name. In fact, I generally don't care much until I have to find a name. I care about the zigzagging, folding and now even more the morphing properties of the beadwork. For example, when I made my first Paradox Pendulum, in my books it was a folded octogon with what I call soft and strong increases, part of my Toho Challenge piece

After seeing the many hyperbolic plane funnies made by my talented CGB friends, I wonder if my pendulum is one... but I think that in CGB language it is an 8-pointed "All-wing" with triangle & hexagon increases. Paradox Pendulum it will remain, because I like poetry, and the shape can make one think of so many things,.

The Pendulum shown in the video is "New Year's Eve".
The white one above ornates the Christmas tree of my dad's girlfriend.


To talk about things and how they are made, math can be a great tool, but it can get difficult.  

See the names of the beautiful Beaded Johnson Solids project started by Diane Fitzgerald. Had you ever heard of a gyrate bidiminished rhombicosidodecahedron? Not me! But I loved making it, using triangles, squares, hexagons and decagons as per Diane's pattern, and I learned a lot. Diane invited us to give our shapes another name. Mine makes me think of Spiderman. But the most interesting aspect of the whole projet, in my books, was that the shapes don't need stuffing (they are self-supporting); and that the triangles very stubbornly raised atop the other shapes. I wonder if it is thanks to the triangles that the beaded shapes are semi-rigid, for they provoke good tension on the beaded shape.

The names for the Johnsons's solids must be the result of an intense decortication of elements in common and their opposites.

This "naming" of geometric shapes and beading them brings me back to the Contemporary Geometric Beadwork publications. 

Last week, I had the wonderful surprise to see my Kaleidocycle as front piece of the chapter about cycles included in the beautiful Pattern Book, published by Kate McKinnon. What an incredible honor. And it is a beautiful introduction.

I love the way Kate puts words on things. In the first books we discovered Wings and Horns and Elegant Guide Rounds. We have discovered the Exploding Round and then the Explodig PodCast.

You can only love to discover explicit names like "Bat Cycle" or "Butterfly Net". And what about "Hot Corners"? Not (yet) academic, but spot on, poetic and mysterious all at once. It will make poets, artists and geeks happy. One day it might we adopted so broadly that it will become academic.

My Jalisco Bangle, for which I shared
the instructions in CGB vol. I later
got the beautiful family name "All-Wing"
which has perpetual movement properties.

 Geometric peyote really can have one leg in geometrics and the other leg in physics (for its kinetic properties). It is very difficult to put the right name on beaded items, because if  beads are rigid, the obtained result isn't necessarily so "solid". But this is why it is soooooooo satisfying to play with said items.

This brings me to my Triskele Bauble and upcoming Zoom workshop. The Kaleidocycle and the Johnson Solid project have been major influences (bad and good) in the making of this new project.

My bauble is inspired by the  beautiful Triskele paper globes by Hattifant. I saw it many years ago and exactly as for the Kaleidocycle, I immediately had to make it with beads, but back then, I knew that I didn't have the skills (and also not so much time - I was working on my book about Diamond Weave). Early in 2019, I felt confident that I would be able to make it.

I've been working on prototypes without success during months. Admittedly more off than on, because of other priorities, like my chess play for the 2020 Beadworker's Guild Challenge, but efforts have not been spared. It felt like chewing it during months.

When seeing the Johnson Solids,  I understood that I had to change my approach for this bauble, and that was to not think "like paper" as I did for my Kaleidocycle 10 years ago , but only geometric peyote beadwork. And eureka, suddenly, things came together as I hoped. After several attempts and prototypes from which I learned a lot, I finally succeeded to obtain a lovely result.

Learn more about this workshop on my website, and prepare to be surprised how beadwork can have magic.

Now the question what kind of solid it is remains, but whatever the correct scientific name it may have, I call it a Triskele Bauble, to honor Hattifant, to express my love for the "morphing" possibilities of beadwork thanks to its solid yet not so solid properties, and because a Triskele is an antique symbol of kinetics. 

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