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By George Hart for the Museum of Mathematics


Here is a set of laser-cut Truchet tiles with circular arcs, designed to be rearranged in a frame. The top layer parts with the quarter-circle arcs are glued to the squares of the bottom layer. The rule when assembling the tiles is to match high to high and low to low.

With just these two types of pieces, you can make a variety of patterns ranging from only circular islands to only circular lakes, with many possible landscapes in-between. Because the surface is raised, you can make rubbings with a pencil or crayon to save your favorites to paper.

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.

  • Balloondoggle

    A set of tiles with these patterns printed on them would make an interesting kitchen floor.

  • Dorothy

    This is an old quilt pattern called “Snowball”, “Boson Puzzle”, or “Baseball”.

    • Dorothy

      Oops! I meant “Boston Puzzle”. No physics here.

  • M. Kelsey

    Very interesting! The board game Carcassonne ( uses a more complex version of Truchet tiling, with multiple tile patterns.

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