Sara McCormick - Senior, Fiber major

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Materials and Process

• pencil
• graph paper
• compass
• computer (graphics program)
1. The first thing I did before I designed my pattern was to create a triangular grid using a compass as explained in the instructions.
2. Then I drew out by hand a symmetrical pattern that pleased me, playing with trying to make unusual shapes, rather than just triangles and hexagons.
3. I then reconstructed the triangular grid on the computer so that I would have a more precise image with which to create my repeat.
4. While reconstructing my pattern on the computer I noticed that the unit I had created had 12-fold reflective symmetry, but it also had 6-fold rotational symmetry.

Artist's Narrative

I noticed that the shapes I had created arbitrarily in my original design could also be constructed by simply overlaying six hexagons in a rotational pattern. Finally, I laid out my repeat pattern, and isolated the units I would use for silk screening the pattern onto fabric. This would be done by exploiting the hexagonal overlay inherent in the design to create different levels of shading or color in the fabric while at the same time bringing out the more complex shapes in the pattern.

As a fibers artist I use pattern a great deal in my work. I am fascinated by mathematical patterns, especially those found in nature. My recent work with fractals has lead me to have a greater appreciation of basic patterns of all kinds. I am intrigued by the idea that in everything there is always, ultimately, a great simplicity underlying complexity. Indeed, it has almost become my new motto! This fascination is also what inspired me to take this class in the first place, and I enjoy the almost Zen-like process of creating patterns.

Teacher's Comment

This practicum explores the mathematical principles and inherent limitations that underly the possibilities when you play with regular hexagons. Conceptually, a hexagon is composed of six equilateral triangles. It is a "natural" shape that can be constructed using a compass, with only a simple three-step limiting algorithm: 1. Select any point and draw a circle; 2. Select any point on the circumference of that circle and draw another circle of the same diameter; 3. Thereafter, select any point of intersections of these circles to create more circles. Each circle (circumference) will naturally be divided into six equal arcs. By connecting the points thus established, you can play with regular hexagons, even without an underlying square grid provided by graph paper.