Here's a lovely sculpture called Sydney, made of
laser-cut wood joined with cable ties.. Or half of it,
anyway. The complete sculpture consists of two orbs: one
as shown plus its mirror-image.
It's impossible to capture in a 2D photograph its full 3D
impression. The above animation gives a better sense of
the richness of the design. Be sure to note that it
consists of just one shape of piece. There are sixty
copies of the identical flat component.
I designed Sydney to be built by students at the Presbyterian Ladies College
in Sydney, Australia while I was there in November, 2014.
This image shows us resting after the first step of the
construction. We have built twenty of these three-part
modules, which form the curved outer triangles of the sculpture.
Assembling the modules into a coherent
structure is a bit tricky. The long arms have to weave
through each other in just the right way, but the bevels at
the ends of the arms are a hint to how the parts meet.
We have several hours to work on it and it feels wonderful
when things just fit together perfectly.
I'm handing out cable ties, which fit
through the small rectangular holes wherever two parts
This orb is complete except that we
haven't snipped off the ends of the cable ties yet.
This rendering illustrates how inside
the outer triangle of any module there is a smaller
inner triangle made from one arm of each of three
neighboring modules. Seeing these inner triangles
in relation to the outer triangles is useful for
visualizing the structure.
With the cable ties now clipped,
the two orbs are now hanging together in the school
Here, compared to the previous image, you can see how
the arms extending from the inner triangle go the
opposite way for the mirror-image orb. The same
part shapes are used in both orbs, but they are flipped
over and beveled on the opposite side.
The name of the sculpture, Sydney, comes from
the Sydney Opera House. The curved outer triangles
of the sculpture are suggestive of the triangular forms
of the building.
It is not an easy design to
reproduce, but if you want to try, here is the part
template. Sixty copies are required for one orb.
For some general guidance about reproducing my
laser-cut wood and cable-tie sculpture, see this
paper from the Bridges 2015 conference.
Thank you to all the students and faculty at the Presbyterian Ladies College
who participated in this project, especially to Patricia Pollett
and Dianne Balkizas who invited me and organized
everything. And thank you Andrew Paxton for supervising
the laser-cutting of the parts in the PLC Art and Design Center.
Prototype Version of Sydney
If you're in the US instead of Australia, you can see this
reduced-scale version of one orb of Sydney at Alfred University in
Alfred, New York.
Working with students and faculty at a regional MAA conference
in October, 2014 allowed me to verify the design and test out
the assembly steps.
Thank you to everyone at Alfred University, especially Joseph
Petrillo, who invited me and organized the visit.
An Instance of Sydney in Hawaii
Later, I made one more instance of this sculpture. This
one is at the Iolani School
in Honolulu, Hawaii.
I stopped over in February, 2015 on a trip to Asia, and
visited the school, leading several workshops, including this
Here it is complete, with a view out the window of the Diamond
Head volcano crater.
Thank you to everyone at the Iolani School, especially David
Masunaga for inviting me.