Saturday, 28 April 2012


As you can see in the latest entries, I have been quite busy lately. Many of the new models will be on display tomorrow, Sunday April 29th, on the Rose Street Artist's Market in Fitzroy. If you're in Melbourne, and have never been there, come and enjoy a variety of goods you can't find easily anywhere else. See you there.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Wrap up

I hope my thirst for novelty got quenched for a while - I still feel the itching to build something fantastic, yet I'm more than happy that I mastered some structures which posed lots of challenges. What started off with revisiting the x-module, and having some tetrahedral galore, ended with a four tensul (3 strut prism)  multi-coloured tetra with non-elastic string which balances in 20 constellation (four corners, four faces, six edges in two constellations).

Vier gewinnt (12 struts, outlining an tetrahedron)
Although I like the visual effect by using different colours, when I tried to make a digital 3d model out of the structure, the optical continuity of same coloured struts overwhelmed the software, and led to very blurry results. However, when shot against a suitable background the colours create many interesting perspectives, and even without being collapsible, the structure is very playable.

Vier gewinnt

I drafted the model with elastic string, using nylon for the 'base' of each tensul. It was tricky to balance, and untuned itself easily. Once I replaced all tendons, the model had movement as well as balance. I dread scaling the concept up, as the build was quite challenging with plenty of hick-ups on the way.

Clover (6 strut tetrahedron)
Clover isn't really a new structure for me - it's tetrahedron where the struts meet in close proximity at its center, instead creating more clearance and 'central space'. However, in this configuration more symmetry than usual can be seen, especially with the use of different colours. Nylon provides plenty of sturdiness, and with my corner configuration it looked a bit like a 4-leaved clover.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

More rip-offs

The success with rebuilding the tetrahedron based on Marcelo Pars' idea motivated me to do more as yet unexplored structures. There's still some challenges I want to take on, watch this space.

Caged rainbow (18 strut tensegrity cube)
The simplest of my new structures just adds 6 struts to a cube with changing chirality along its corners. Similar to a dice, where opposite sides add up to seven, colours oppose each other of each side. Snelson managed to build an x-module in a way that outlined a tetrahedron, I was surprised how well my guestimation for the different tendon lengths worked out.

Tetra ala Snelson
It might look better when slotted into a base, so that only one strut connects to the ground, similar to Earthlon, which shows the 'ascension skylon' out of Burkhardt's collection of structures, and turns it around.

I drafted Earthlon with elastic strings. but it gained much stability with less elastic tendons. It has only little movement, nevertheless looks quite surprising.

Polarised canary
Polarised canary took quite some time to get together, and probably the tendons holding the upright strut could be a bit shorter. The same concept should work with three struts on either end, and looks a bit like a beam capable of absorbing shock along its length.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Homage to Pars

When I came across the website of Marcelo Pars, a Dutch tensegrity artist, I knew that my explorations wouldn't find an end soon. The site looked a bit different at the time, but had already some fantastically inspiring pieces on display. I had the impression that he builds models on a larger scale than I do, and much more with 'redundant' struts that I explored so far.

Besides exploring basic geometry, he managed to give his objects a solidity in appearance (and potentially in mechanical behaviour) that eluded me. I totally enjoy the ethereal appearance of some of my own structures, and managed to resist the call for more solid struts.
Parsed Rastafarian (12 strut tetrahedron)
While I consider the tetrahedron (in some educated believe in Fuller that the tetrahedron comprises the smallest unit in universe) a very appealing shape, most people exposed to my work prefer the icosahedron when it comes to 6 strut structures.

Parsed Rastafarian (sitting on a tetrahedral face)
While playing with the Java tensegrity viewer by Bob Burkhardt, a pioneer of constructing tensegrity structures, I realised have easy it should be to build a 12 strut tetrahedron like Pars did. I had a small colourful tetrahedron lying around, and decided to transform it. 

Parsed Rastafarian
The tetrahedron 'proves' that one and one add up to four, and it hides 3 pairs of orthogonal edges in it. Three colours suffice to show this twisted pair of edges. While I love many visual aspects of the small version, it's tricky to balance it on all corners, and the relative large diameter in relation to the length of the struts brings the struts nearly into contact.

Homage to Marcelo Pars (12 strut tetrahedron)

The proximity of the struts could easily be changed by upsizing. The corners are held together in a single spot, I'm tempted to connect the corners to the center. Well, as the first emanation with 60 cm struts already has quite a large prestress, I might delay this idea until the next build. 

Homage to Marcelo Pars
The larger build unveiled the space in between the intricate weaving patterns in the center of the sculpture. I'm still hesitant to play it hard, I had some accidents during the build and it feels so taut that I fear to break some of the flimsy struts used.

Genesis revisited (4 strut x-modul)
My attempts to scale the classic 4 strut x-module up didn't succeed. The 30 cm strut version, very taut with only nylon string, can easily be held in balance by slotting into a relatively heavy base. I hope my lungs didn't take damage from drilling the fibreglass base...

Double plus good

Using two colours for the tendons allows to show the 'centre' and 'periphery' of the x-module. Using two colours for the four struts will enhance the polarity of the struts, could be fun be find out how a chain of x-modules behaves. I did this before, very early in my tensegrity exploration, certainly worth doing again.

Pented up
The small 30 strut dodecahedron I had lying around didn't really invite for playing, so I thought in combination with a basis its wobbly qualities come into good use.

Thursday, 12 April 2012


After building a relatively large number of tried and tested icosahedra and octahedra, which so far exceeded the demand by far, I went back to the fun of exploring other shapes and build methods. Floating Spell is an adapted pentagonal prism, with the top struts connecting across the center.
Floating Spell (20 struts)
Five Elements creates different views from each angle, with two of the twelve pentagonal corners appearing copper from the outside, and black from the inside. Each strut looks basically identical, nevertheless a variety of pattern appear throughout the structure.
Five Elements (30 strut tensegrity icosahedron)

12 Meridians belongs to the recycling projects among my latest explorations. After deploying the centrally joined corner tendons, I rebuild a dodecahedron with black and white struts, which failed to impress me in its first incarnation.
12 meridians (30 strut tensegrity dodecahedron)
Balanced Infinity is a 12 strut cube with centrally joined corner tendon, and elastic string for the tendons along the edges. The model feels very floppy, yet when handled gently balances on each of its eight corners. It can go through quite some interesting before losing balance.
Balanced Infinity (12 strut tensegrity cube)
Star Icosa stems from the ambitious idea to build a 30-strut icosahedron entirely with non-elastic string. So far, my attempts usually lacked the precision in tendon length for satisfying stability in 30 strut models. The star connected corners looks especially interesting under UV light.
Star Icosa (30 strut tensegrity icosahedron)

Redfaced Revisited is another recycling project. The original Redfaced had transparent elastic tendons, It has a cuboctahedral shape (Vector Equilibrium), and handles nicely.
Redfaced Revisited (24 strut cuboctahedron)
Polar Symmetry belongs to the experiments with scaling up. Although the nylon string has only little elasticity, the model can collapse on itself and bounce back.
Polar Symmetry (6 strut tensegrity icosahedron)
The next three objects a variations of the same structure, utilising central corner joints. Green Bridge shows the pure concept: 4 20cm struts rising near vertical, two 30cm struts crossing in the center along a horizontal plane. 
Green bridge
Fiercely occupied uses different colours for the different tendons, and has a Pokemon as inhabitant.
Fiercely occupied
Gargoyled Tetra is also inhabited by a Pokemon, and also outlines a tetrahedron with the four orange tendons in its center. The tetrahedral pull towards the center contributes to the overall stability.
Gargoyled Tetra
After finding some many 'merging' structures in my latest tensegrity experiments, I revisited also the idea of the merkaba. The study has some flaws to it, yet it would like see a much larger build to dismiss this concept.
Merkaba study