Sunday, July 27, 2014

Complexity v simplicity

I'm never sure when simple is too simple, or when adding a bit of complexity is an improvement.  Sometimes I throw something in in the middle of a repetitive sequence, just because I'm bored with the process, and that's usually a mistake.  This time I did something different.  I had finished my red and black tets necklace, which, I showed in an earlier post, and I liked it a lot.  Still, I thought it read as a very simple structure, and I thought I might add something so that it would show more complexity.  I added 5 extra tets to give the necklace a bit of "spikiness" instead of being a simple ring of tets. I think it was an improvement, but I'd love to know what others think, looking at the 2 together.. 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

red tube necklace

Once I had my building blocks figured out, I couldn't stop beading till I had a necklace.  I think the color adds a lot in terms of defining the structure.  More to come, as I'm on a roll now.

Friday, July 18, 2014

colored tubes

   I just got my first shipment of colored (anodized aluminum) tubes, and I'm loving them.  I've been wanting to make some pieces that are quite open, as all my tube pieces are, but still have a bit more presence.  The aluminum tubes accomplish this in 2 ways.  First, obviously, they're red.  But also, they're fatter than the oxidized copper tubes.  The copper ones are 1.5 mm in diameter, and the aluminum ones are 1/16" which is almost 2mm.  Because the tubes are relatively big, I found I needed seed beads at the ends, as having 3 big raw tube ends at each point of 
a tetrahedron was unattractive.  I had used #11 beads at the ends of copper tubes in the past, but I thought that the fatter tubes might "want" a bigger bead.  So I tried it with #8s.  But I didn't quite like it so I tried #11 beads (this is all in the 1st picture) and I liked that better.  A #11 bead fits quite nicely into the hole in the red tube.
   Then I had to figure out how to combine the red tubes with the blackened copper ones.  When I cut up the 1st 1' tube, I got 14 beads, but they were just a hair shorter than the long copper ones.  So I thought I might put seed beads only on the ends of the red tubes, and not the black ones, and that would even things out.  I did that in the 1st tet in the 2nd picture, and it pretty much worked, in terms of making the sides even.  But I wasn't sure I liked it. so I did a second tet in which all the tubes had beads at the ends.  I liked that better, even though the lengths weren't quite right.  On my next 1' tube I lengthened the individual tubes just a bit and got just 13 tubes out of a foot, but the length was better. 
  Actually, I need to work on getting tubes of a consistent length.  The red ones were better than the gold filled ones I did a few weeks ago, and the last red tube I did was better than the first,  But they're still not as consistent as I'd like.  Rio Grande sells a tube cutter that you can set to a length, and that should improve both consistency and speed.  I want to play around with the lengths of the tubes, but it will be trial and error as to how a given length affects the geometry of a piece, and I can't do much trial and error without wasting beads, so that's a problem.  I imagine there are CAD type programs where you could  play with  polyhedra that have sides of various lengths, but I don't know what they would be.  The only other thing I can think of is to buy unanodized aluminum, which is really cheap ( something like $.35/ft) and play with those.  That, of course, is expensive in time.  Anyway, for now I'm having great fun with my new red tubes.

Saturday, July 5, 2014


   I haven't posted in  while, but I've been playing with a spiraling structure of tetrahedrons that I mentioned a few months ago. In the interim, the beaded molecule folks talked about the same structure in their blog, so now I know it's called a tetrahelix, i.e. a helix made of tetrahedra.  I borrowed their idea of accenting the spiral-ness by using different color beads for the 3 outside edges of the helix. 
   I've been thinking for a while about using different tubes to contrast with the oxidized copper.  To do that I have to cut my own tube beads, but that opens up lots of possibilities too, because I can vary the length to alter the structures.  I suspect that soon I'm going to wish I knew some trigonometry.  My only memory of trig is looking up 4 digit decimal numbers in tables in the back of the math book.  This was, of course, in the bygone days before calculators.  But now I find myself wanting to know things like what angle I'm creating between 2 faces, or  2 beads, and I think that's the realm of trig.  One of the nice things about doing this stuff with beads is that if the angle is close to what you need, you can make it work.
   In this piece I didn't play with angles and lengths.  Learning to saw the tubing was a first step and that was enough for starters. I bought gold filled tubing and cut tubes the same length as the long copper ones I've been using.  I like the effect.  Another possibility is stainless steel tubes ( which are actually hypodermic syringe tubes), or anodized and colored aluminum.  The stainless would, of course, be much harder to cut, and I like the idea of colored aluminum, but the tubes I've found so far are much fatter than the copper ones, so I'm not sure they'll look right if used in the same piece.  So much to learn (and such fun doing it!).