Wednesday, 8 May 2013


Although I didn't want to continue this blog, I picked up on an idea I rejected for some years now. It happened quite often to me that visitors to my market stall suggested making lamps out of my structures. Besides the problem of electrical safety, I didn't like the idea of the 'skin' part for a lamp.

Now I'm sitting in a friend's house, with many bare light bulbs hanging from the ceiling. I asked whether the house mates here want some cover for their lamps, and made a colourful icosahedron as test run. While they liked the structure, it doesn't do much as lamp shade - it just surrounds the bulb, and certainly looks best while its switched off.

The energy saving bulbs won't get too hot, so I wasn't worried about the plastic strings melting away. I remembered from the childhood a kind of craft paper which we used to make lanterns. Translucent paper, or vellum paper, is still available and should do exactly what is desired - blocking the harsh light, and giving it a warmer glow.

The icosahedron with 15cm struts looks small enough to probably fit two A4 sheets of paper in it - which would add another geometric configuration to it, yet could work. But while looking where I could get vellum paper locally, I revised my plans how to put 'shades' on, which might even save money for material (well, at least one...).

Option one would need a printer, or at least a printed template for some folding fun. The network outline of an icosahedron on A4 potentially fits nicely into the centre of a tensegrity sphere. It shouldn't really be needed to have a complete paper icosahedron inside, at least one triangle needs to be left out to allow the light bulb in.

While the basic shape of a tensegrity structure corresponds to the Platonic Solids, the crossings (corners) inflate to another opening (face), ie instead of having 20 openings and 12 crossings the tensegrity icosahedron has 32 openings (and more crossings I'm willing to count now). From a construction point of view, the 12 openings typical for a dodecahedron, the dual to the icosahedron, are more apparent than 20 openings describing the actual icosahedron.

Now I wish I still had the abundance of models and a printer around - even without suitable paper at hand, I could figure out how well folded A4 sheets, either as dodecahedron or icosahedron, would fit into my spheres with different strut lengths.... which is why I took some time to write down the ideas about finally giving a use to my structures.

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