Saturday, July 31, 2010

Torus bracelet

A new torus structure--this one with a small minor diameter (width of the tube), but a major diameter big enough to be used as a bracelet. In order to figure this one out I had to switch from building the inner circumference of the torus and working outward, as they do in the blog. Instead, I built a short section of the tube, and then kept extending it till I had the overall length, then closed off the circle. One problem is that it's not very easily adjustable for different wrist sizes. You could vary the length (the size you need to get the bracelet over your wrist) by adding another section, but that would add more than an inch. You could, I think, make one section shorter, or longer than the others, if you weren't hung up on symmetry, as I tend to be way too much.


A quick post about my comments problem. I find it's linked to my security settings, since I can comment from my son's computer. My husband tends to get a bit carried away on security settings, so I may have to list the blogs I follow as trusted sited to solve the problem. Anyway, it should be fixed soon.

Monday, July 26, 2010


A quick note--I think I've mentioned that I have trouble commenting on other people's blogs. Now I find that there are some I can comment on and others I can't. One of the ones where I can't is my own. If someone comments on an entry of mine, especially something nice, I like to respond, but I can't. I hope you'll understand.
Actually maybe someone can help me, since the people who follow my blog also follow others that I use. On some blogs (the beaded molecules and wild wicked beads are 2) when I go to the comment section the blog already knows who I am (assuming I've already signed into blogger). On others, (my own and beadorigami are 2) the site asks for a profile and when I say google account it just asks again and I'm in a loop. Anyone know what the difference is?

My background

I thought I'd say a bit about how I got to where I am in my work. I've been a weaver for more than 25 years, and for the last 15 or so, I've done exclusively rugs. With those my emphasis is on color. I dye my own wool yarn, and put alot of effort into creating interesting color combinations. The work is very geometric because a) weaving lends itself to geometrics, and b) I have no skill whatsoever at representation. Can't draw to save my soul (although practicing drawing to reach at least a minimal competency is on my to-do list). Around 5 years ago we moved the rug loom out of the house and into a studio. I seem to suffer from "restless finger syndrome" so I was ready for a new outlet at the house. I ran across an article about David Chatt in Ornament Magazine, and knew that if I were to do beadwork, the kind of geometric right-angle-weave that he did was where I wanted to be. Valerie Hector's book had a good section on RAW, so I picked it up. The RAW section and Laura Shea's section on Plato and Archimedes beads are the genisis of just about eveything I do.
I've found that beadwork and rugweaving mesh well for me. With the rugs I have, of course, been limited to 2 dimensions, so I immediately went very 3 dimensional with the beadwork, and found that to be quite exciting. On the other hand, I no longer had control over my colors, and that was very frustrating. Not only can I not create my colors, as I do with my handdyed wool, I can't quite tell what I'm getting when I order, because the actual beads often aren't the same color as the colors on my computer monitor. I use #8 beads, and, of course, there isn't the range of colors I'd have if I used smaller beads. But, maybe because I came to beading relatively late, I find I don't have the patience for the teeny beads. And ultimately, I think the color limitations have been good for me, because they've forced me to rely less on color and more on form. Anyway, I go back and forth between media, and am having a great time doing it.
One of the dangers of blogging is the tendency to be way too self-indulgent, and assume the world is way more interested in you than they have any real reason to be, so I'll stop now.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Simplicity versus complexity

I've been playing with the idea of how much is enough. My work tends to be relatively minimalist. So I'm always dealing with the notion of when simple and clean-lined edges toward boring. I made a piece recently where I thought the geometric structure was kind of neat, but the resulting necklace was relatively boring. I'm not showing that piece here, but it led me to think about the possibility of using some of my clean geometric structures as a scaffolding to build on. One of my first realizations of this idea was in my "links" series. It's a series of necklaces and bracelets that are made of individual beaded links. In my initial ones the links were all the same shape (except for one long link in the back), just different colors. I really like those necklaces, but now I've also created several links that have some sort of interesting shape added to the standard link. The nice thing is that the wearer/customer can decide how much to move away from the original simplicity by adding the more elaborate links. Also you can experiment with putting a "special" link in the center for a relatively symmetrical look, or off-center to create asymmetry. I'm enjoying this, and I like rearranging the necklaces and trying new looks.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Platonic pingpong balls

This was a fun piece. I really enjoy working with the pingpong balls, although my husband thinks I've really gone over the edge. But scale matters, and sometimes I just want to make something bigger. Also I like the combination of the white balls and my many colors of rug wool.
Here's the idea on this one. The 5 structures are the 5 Platonic solids--tetrahedron, cube, octahedron, dodecahedron and icosahedron. The 1st 3, since they are smaller, were made with 2 balls for each edge. The last 2 were done with single balls on each edge. It's interesting to notice that when you use round balls the placement of the balls appears just the same in the icosahedron and the dodecahedron, each using 30 balls arranged in triangles and pentagons. The difference is that the axis of each ball, and hence the placement of the tufts of yarn, is different (by 90 degrees). If I had used single balls instead of double, the same thing would have been true of the cube and octahedron, each of which would use 12 balls. I've found I've sometimes made mistakes in analysing other people's beaded shapes for that reason. There's a mathematical term, I think, for the relatonship between the shapes that are like that, but I've forgotten it. Unfortunately my mathematics comes either from high school 40+ years ago, or from Wikipedia.
Back to the piece in the picture. Plato is said to have associated the Platonic solids with the Platonic elements, so I used that in choosing the colors for the structures. The cube, since it is a stable, building blockish sort of shape, is associated with earth, so I used neutrals and gray greens. The tetrahedron, because it's the pointiest shape, is linked with fire, so I used red/orange/yellow. The icosahedron, because its round shape allows it to flow, is matched with water. Hence watery colors. And the octahedron (and all of a sudden I've forgotten the reason) is associated with air, so I used white, for relative invisibility next to the white balls. There's a mismatch, of course. 5 Platonic solids and only 4 Platonic elements. He speculated that the 5th solid, the dodecahedron, might be related to the shape of the universe. So I used all colors in it.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Torus necklace

This is the first actual piece of jewelry I've made from my torus structures. I like it because it's the first time I've varied from the actual structures I found in the beaded molecules blog. The 6-sided torus is basically taken from the blog. It's the one that uses octagons in the middle and squares on the outside, and it wants to be a hexagon type torus,i.e. the structure creates a 60 degree angle between the sides. However I found I could force it into a 90 degree bend, to create the square torus. As a general matter, I find I like forcing my beaded structures into shapes that aren't exactly what they want to do, because the forcing creates a stiffer structure. An example would be a tetrahedron created using right angle weave. It makes a somewhat rounded, but stiffer, tetrahedron.
When I tried to force the structure even farther, into a 120 degree bend to make the triangular torus in the middle, it just wouldn't go. I simply didn't have enough beads in the outer part of the torus to accomodate the greater diameter. So I changed the squares (4-bead circles) to rectangles (6-bead ovals) and then I could make it work.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Sierpinski spheres

This is a bit more on my Sierpinski-ish structures. The blue ball I showed before isn't a Sierpinski one because the small units are dodecahedrons and the overall ball is a buckyball. You could, of course make each of the small ball units buckyballs, but that would take more work than I wanted to do. I did try to go the other way and use small dodecahedron balls as units to make a large dodecahedron. I couldn't do it. The small goldish hemisphere was my attempt. The problem is that 5 dodecahedrons don't really want to make a circle. I don't know enough trig (or, for that matter any trig) to know what the angles are, but when you make it you have to pull it together some to get a circle out of 5 spheres. It wants to be 5 and some fraction spheres. You can do it fine for the first (bottom) circle, and the 5 circles that adjoin it, but after that it's too far off. The only way I could create that sort of structure was to link the adjoining balls with a small 5-sided "tube" of beads to give me a little wiggle room. That's the red and black structure, red dodecahedrons joined together by black tubes. Some of the tubes, as needed, have 2-bead edges on the inside and 3-bead ones on the outside. On the blue buckyball from the earlier post, the 5-ball circles are separated by 6-ball circles, and that gives you the same sort of wiggle room.
When I had done the red and black structure, I found that I actually liked the look of separating the small balls, so I did the same with a buckyball, the multicolored one. I really like the fact that it's a more open structure, and you can see what's happening better. Also it's larger (around 4" diameter.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

60 ball sphere

The blue ball shown here is, I think, my most geometrically interesting piece. It's not exactly a Sierpinski structure, but heading in that direction. The individual spheres are dodecahedrons, and the overall structure is a buckyball. It differs from the one in the beaded molecule blog, though, in that the small spheres are not strung together to form the large sphere. Instead, the adjoining small spheres share a face, just as cubes do in right angle weave. In order to make this work I had to change the buckeyball. Where the beads in a beaded buckyball usually represent the edges of the ball (so there are 90) in this structure they represent the vertices, so there are 60. In terms of the carbon-60 structure, I suppose that would mean they represent the carbon atoms, instead of the links between the atoms. Again, I'm not a chemist, so I'm more or less guessing, but that seems logical to me.
The other 2 pictures are earlier attempts to make the sphere. In each case I got sidetracked when I got partway through. I found that I didn't want to close up the sphere, but I wanted the inside to show. For the first one I just added long fringe to the open edge. For the 2nd one I added another row of 6-ball circles to give it more height, and then added some balls on the outer edge to make a lip. I think they're prettier that the sphere, but I did want to make one actual sphere, so the 3rd time around I completed it.

Monday, July 5, 2010

triangle structures

This foray into torus structures is a new focus for me. Before this I've been doing lots of work with long beads. You can't really do structures based on pentagons, hexagons, or really even squares with those because they immediately get wobbly. I've stuck pretty much to structures based on triangles, like tetrahedrons (tets), octahedrons (octs) and, to a lesser extent, icosahedrons. What I really love is the structure known as the octet truss, which is made of alternating octs and tets. They will extend out into a plane of any size. It's a structure engineers use. In fact the first time I googled it I got a picture of the overhead structure at a new terminal at Heathrow airport. If you do it in all directions you can create larger octs and tets. I've attached some of my jewelry piece that use it, mostly to create triangles.

Friday, July 2, 2010

I'm trying to upload some images of some of the donut (technically torus) structures I've built based on the incredible carbon nanotube stuff in The larger picture used seed beads, and to create more open structure I used 2 beads for each edge. It's around 3" in diameter. Looking through all the structures in the blog, I've been trying various versions. For jewelry I'm trying to keep the minor diameter (ie the diameter of the curved tube, not of the whole torus) relatively small so the piece isn't too terribly thick. Also I want the very outermost part of be a row of shapes,not a border between rows of shapes. That way, when I get beyond single toruses (tori?) I can build a structure to link together a series of them. The other picis of various structures using 4 mm stone beads. I sort of like the blue one on the left best, as it's quite firm and not too thick, but it doesn't have a bead circle on the outer rim. If I connect to a bead circle it will slightly on the back of the torus. So I'm still playing.