Scott’s Pentagonal Dragon Tiling on a Dodecahedron

Craft & Design
Scott’s Pentagonal Dragon Tiling on a Dodecahedron

Each face of DodecaHedron of Dragons II by California artist Scott Van Note is identically patterned, hand-carved on a pentagonal tiling designed by Scott himself. I had the pleasure of meeting Scott at BAMF 2011, where he was helping out at the Explorable Microscopy booth. We started talking, and he handed me this beautiful object. I caught up with him, after the Faire, and got him to answer a few questions about it.

1. I understand you designed the pentagonal face pattern yourself. Have you designed other tilings?

Yep. I have a couple other patterns. The dragons is the best. I’m currently carving a tile pattern that ends up with 4 loops and each loop crosses all 12 faces. I think it has further meaning but I haven’t cross-correlated any data to the pattern . . yet.

2. How is the dodecahedron constructed?

Cast bronze, Everdure and white (pretty much the same composition as a US nickel). I cast the blank hollow dodecahedron, grind down the sprue side, add five glass marbles, weld a plug in the hole and grind it down.

3. You can carve cast bronze? What tool did you use?

Yep. Not really as hard as it first sounds. 100,000 RPM Dotco turbo grinder, metal just disappears under that carbide bit. Still takes hours . . .

4. How did you come to be working at the Explorable Microscopy booth?

I’m a “friend of the family.” I was at Arizona State University with Gene Cooper. I am also an occasional asset. Though they have “real” scientists to ask the hard questions and they have developed it completely themselves I do occasionally get some of the tricky questions and I have a sculpture studio with lots-o-tools. Built one of their rejected lens mount designs on my lathe.

You can see more of Scott’s mathematically-inspired artwork here.


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I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c't – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.

View more articles by Sean Michael Ragan