By George Hart for the Museum of Mathematics


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.

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.

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

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.

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.

See all of George Hart’s Math Monday columns

Gareth Branwyn

Gareth Branwyn

Gareth Branwyn is a freelancer writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor for Boing Boing and WINK Books. And he has a new best-of writing collection and “lazy man’s memoir,” called Borg Like Me.