Maths Craft at the NZ Craft & Design Show
by Phil Wilson
Maths Craft NZ is all about the beautiful and surprising connections between mathematics and craft, and we provided a taster at the NZ Craft & Design Show at Addington Raceway recently. We teamed up with University of Canterbury Masters student Sarah Mark who brought her modular origami models of mathematical objects to the show.
The origami proved very popular with adults and children alike, so make sure you come to the Maths Craft Festival and learn how to make it! Some of the 1800 people who passed the maths stall had a go at folding their own modular dodecahedron out of PostIt notes. If you make one of these models with us you will see that they are not only interesting to build and beautiful to look at, but can be used to explore concepts of symmetry and geometry.
We also gave lessons and instructions on how to crochet a hyperbolic plane, which you can also do at Maths Craft NZ. A simple stitch and the simplest of patterns creates this mathematical object, seen widely in nature and which may even relate to the shape of our universe. The crocheted hyperbolic planes were so tactile that they were picked up and admired hundreds of times. Jeanette’s beautifully complex hyperbolic plane in particular elicited surprise that over half a kilometre of yarn fitted into such a compact space.
A frequent response was not just pleasure at the beauty of the craft objects, but delight and surprise at the hidden maths behind these crafts, along with the knitting, fractal sculpting, and colouring in which were also on display. The stall was a great success, and generated momentum and publicity for the main event: the free Maths Craft Festival!