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By George Hart for the Museum of Mathematics

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Stained glass can be used to make many mathematical forms. One very beautiful shape is the polar zonohedron. Hans Schepker made this three-foot diameter example from hundreds of pieces of stained glass.

hansschepker 1 Math Monday: Stained Glass Polar Zonohedron

Below, you can see Hans soldering it together while supporting the partially assembled lamp in a hammock. His construction approach is based on 5-by-5 modules which fit into a brass framework.

hansschepker 2 Math Monday: Stained Glass Polar Zonohedron

A view along the axis is quite spectacular. You can see it consists of twenty spirals in each direction. Every spiral strip is geometrically identical, with a slightly different quadrilateral shape required at each position along the spiral. Many construction photos can be seen on Hans’s website, here. Be sure to observe how the modules divide it structurally with four-way rotational symmetry, but the color pattern has five-way symmetry, so the colors had to be planned differently on each module.

hansschepker 3 Math Monday: Stained Glass Polar Zonohedron

More:
See all of George Hart’s Math Monday columns

Gareth Branwyn

Gareth Branwyn is a freelancer writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture, including the first book about the web (Mosaic Quick Tour) and the Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Building Robots. He is currently working on a best-of collection of his writing, called Borg Like Me.


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