For my Dad's birthday, I decided to make him a puzzle based on a tessellation by M.C. Escher. I got the idea from a trip to the Yakima Maker Space. Someone used a 3D printer to make tessellating lizards as a puzzle. I bought the version at Yakima Maker Space. It was a very satisfying puzzle, as it can be rearranged in multiple ways and the feel of the 3D printed plastic is pleasant when the pieces are fit together.
|Dad's puzzle, completed|
I was curious whether I could make a similar puzzle from clay. I figured the lizards would be too difficult, to cut, so I found a simpler form in these birds. At first I printed an image of just one bird, but as I traced the paper image, the edges I traced no longer lined up correctly, due to inaccuracies in my tracing techniques, I suppose. (I've never been comfortable working with slabs because I tend to measure or cut badly.)
|the tessellation pattern during the tracing process|
|the outlines from the paper pattern, with some partially cut out|
My traced markings and cuts were still not perfect, but they were close enough that most of the finished pieces fit together reasonably well.
|completed birds, ready to dry|
|fired birds after unloading the kiln|
I dried and fired the pieces together, laid out in a grid, just in case there might be some strange heating in the kiln that made them warp during firing. After firing, I added different colored underglazes into the linear designs on the birds surfaces so they would be more interesting to look at and added glaze to their surfaces.
|glazed and fired birds, including the reversed bird and one broken bird|
Since they are really just a copy of an existing artwork, I don't plan to make more Escher puzzles (except maybe for my nephew), but if I were to make more, I think an accurate M. C. Escher cookie cutter would speed up the process considerably. I couldn't find Escher cookie cutters for sale, but I did find that you could make your own with aluminum foil or a 3D printer. I wasn't up for the challenge of the foil and don't actually own a 3D printer. Sadly, it appears cookies warp too much to tessellate well after baking anyway.