I was in Washington DC for work, and my buddy lured me away for a couple of hours to see the Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef at the Smithsonian. It is the brainchild of the folks at the Institute for Figuring. Whatever figuring is – I read the description and I’m still not sure. The Crochet Reef is a fusion of art, science, mathematics, handicraft and community practice that “may well be the largest community art project in the world.” The inspiration was the technique of “hyperbolic crochet” discovered in 1997 by Cornell University mathematician Dr. Daina Taimina. The Wertheim sisters used the techniques to develop a whole taxonomy of reef-life forms. I wish I had been able to take better photos. For most of the reefs, I had to use a flash and press up against the glass. However, there is a whole flickr group dedicated to the reef project, so I imagine there are lots of great photos.
At last a use for the fun fur and eyelash yarn that would otherwise end up in landfills:
For Gale, there was even a granny square physical manifestation of hyperbolic space:
There were beaded coral bits and man o’war (men o’war?) mixed in, and yes, that white coral is all crocheted with very fine crochet cotton.
I think my favorite part of the visit, though, was the group of preschoolers who raced up to check it out. One little girl, her face pressed against the glass, yelled “Look, it’s made out of sweaters!”