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!
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.
All 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.
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.
Seeing 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!
- The Institute for Figuring and WFC In the Loop Instructions for Coral Shapes Patterns (these would make great scrubbies or embellishments!):
- Hyperbolic Scrunchie on Cayenne’s Yarncraft:
- Double Hyperbolic Scarf by Sophie Gelfi (Ravelry free download):
- Baby Developmental Ball on The Sunroom: (be sure to read the comments for explanations of some of the stitches)
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!
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