The Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef – A Must See!

This weekend I got a chance to visit the Smithsonian Community Reef exhibit at the Putnam Museum in Davenport, Iowa. This is a satellite of the Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef Project. And of course I brought my camera!

hyperbolic crochet coral reef project free patterns smithsonian

Started by sisters Margaret and Christine Wertheim of the Institute of Figuring, the Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef project has been bringing attention both the beauty and the destruction of the Great Barrier Reef. Since it’s conception in 2005, it’s grown from one family’s living room project to communities around the world. There are now several traveling exhibits of these reefs, and more reefs are being created still today.

hyperbolic crochet coral reef project free crochet patterns smithsonianhyperbolic crochet coral reef project free crochet patterns smithsonianAll of the reefs are created with crocheted pieces and found objects. More than 800 participants from around the world have created over 4,000 pieces of coral. They are made using crochet techniques and hyperbolic geometry to create complex, natural-looking forms that mimic live coral.

hyperbolic crochet coral reef project free crochet patterns smithsonianhyperbolic crochet coral reef project free crochet patterns smithsonianWhat does Hyperbolic mean? I’ll let the Smithsonian explain:

In 1997, Dr Daina Taimina, a mathematician, discovered how to make physical models of the geometry known as “hyperbolic space” using the art of crochet. Until that time many mathematicians believed it was impossible to construct such forms; yet nature had been doing just that for hundreds of millions of years. Many marine organisms embody hyperbolic geometry in their anatomies, including corals. This geometry maximizes surface area in a limited volume, thereby providing greater opportunity for filter feeding by stationary corals.

hyperbolic crochet coral reef project free crochet patterns smithsonianSeeing it in person was absolutely amazing. I could’ve looked at it for hours, there was so much to see, so many corners and stitches and surprises around every corner. The kids didn’t let me linger too long, but I got these photos and came away from the exhibit both awed and inspired. I highly recommend going to see one of these Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reefs if you get the chance!

hyperbolic crochet coral reef project free crochet patterns smithsonianhyperbolic crochet coral reef project free crochet patterns smithsonianAnd if you are interested in trying your hand at hyperbolic crochet, here are some free patterns to choose from!

  1. The Institute for Figuring and WFC In the Loop Instructions for Coral Shapes Patterns (these would make great scrubbies or embellishments!): free crochet patterns hyperbolic crochet coral reef
  2. Hyperbolic Scrunchie on Cayenne’s Yarncraft: 
  3. Double Hyperbolic Scarf by Sophie Gelfi (Ravelry free download):free crochet pattern hyperbolic crochet coral reef hyperbolic scarf
  4. Baby Developmental Ball on The Sunroom: (be sure to read the comments for explanations of some of the stitches)baby toy developmental toy black and white hyperbolic crochet ball hyperbolic crochet coral reef

Have you gotten a chance to visit one of the reefs? Have you contributed a piece to one of the projects? Have you made any hyperbolic crochet projects before? Tell us all about it in the comments!

hyperbolic crochet coral reef project free crochet patterns smithsonianBe sure to check out and like the moogly Facebook page to get the latest updates, links, sneak peeks, and more! Moogly is also on Pinterest, Twitter, and Tumblr – come join the fun! You can contact me at [email protected]

Print Friendly

Comments

  1. 2

    says

    These are fantastic! I would love to see them in person some day…

    My friend has requested a “brain hat”. I have seen some knitted patterns but the only crochet one I have found seems to be no longer available. It would seem that the hyperbolic shapes used for some of these corals would make a good brain look…

    What do you think? Are you up to creating a crochet brain hat pattern?? :)

  2. 7

    Liz Hasler says

    Beautiful pictures! I’m so jealous that you got to go there. I can only imagine what it looks like in person. Thank you for sharing your pics

  3. 9

    H Smith says

    A friend showed me a photo of a crochete hyperbolic plan & asked if I could make something like this. To me, it looked like a ruffle scarf (I had made a bunch of these last year for Christmas presents). I googled & found tons of patterns & have been playing around with different values of N. These pictures of coral reefs are fantastic (and way above my abilities as a crocheter).

  4. 10

    Marrie says

    Oh my GOD!…Oh my GOD!…Oh my GOD!…Oh my GOD!…Oh my GOD!…Oh my GOD!…Oh my GOD!…Oh my GOD!…Oh my GOD!…Oh my GOD!…Oh my GOD!…Oh my GOD!…Oh my GOD!…Oh my GOD!…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>