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By George Hart for the Museum of Mathematics


Nick Sayers enjoys making geometric constructions from unusual materials. Here’s an organic-looking sculpture he made from 630 coffee stirrers, with “blobs” protruding in the twelve directions of a dodecahedron‘s faces.

coffee stirrers nick sayers Math Monday: Coffee Stirrers

This close-up view shows the geometric form and the method of assembly. Each stick is drilled with four equally-spaced holes, making a total of 2,520 holes that are pinned together in pairs with 1,260 tooth picks. Note the consistent handedness to the cycles and the overs and unders, so the sticks spring together to hold the shape. The tooth picks just keep the joints from sliding.

coffee stirrers nick sayers closeup Math Monday: Coffee Stirrers

Each “blob” form is based on half an icosidodecahedron, with small triangles surrounded by three large pentagons.

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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