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.