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By George Hart for the Museum of Mathematics

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Bradford Hansen-Smith has been experimenting with structures made from a great many 10-inch bamboo skewers held together with short pieces of rubber tubing. He calls the technique stickweaving and presents a gallery of interesting examples. Modular units connect to neighboring units with tubing and the entire structure is flexible enough to be collapsed or morphed into various surfaces.

stickweaving 2 Math Monday: Flexible Stick Structures

This example can be opened up and spread into a large square array of modules or curved around into a cylinder or into the bowl shape below.

stickweaving 4 Math Monday: Flexible Stick Structures

More artistic forms are also possible, so this is something of a sculptural medium.

stickweaving 31 Math Monday: Flexible Stick Structures

The basic module above is a 3-dimensional cross of twelve sticks arranged with three sticks along each of the long diagonals of a cube. The sticks are joined with tubing at the corners of the cube, so the joint in the center where all the sticks cross is flexible.

stickweaving 0 Math Monday: Flexible Stick Structures

Below is another example made with the same materials but a different construction. The stick length gradually changes in this long flexible chain, resulting in an organic effect.

stickweaving 5 Math Monday: Flexible Stick Structures

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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