Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Tessellating Puzzle

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

 I ended up printing a larger copy of more birds and This I laid over the clay slab and traced in its entirety before I began to cut.

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
After I cut the pieces, I cleaned up the edges with a sponge and other shaping tools, then drew lines on the top edge of the birds. (I somehow put the lines on the wrong side of one single bird. I thought about sending this one along with my Dad's other birds as a joke to see how long it would take him to realize it was a misfit, but decided to try that trick on my kid instead.)

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.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Tell me what you think about my work or this post