Wednesday, 2 September 2015

And on and on...

It's now nine month since I last busked out my tensegrities. While I accidentally sold a few pieces this year, I'd love the business to pick up again. Still, I took part of Polymer Dreams Lab installation in Coburg, and build a bit bigger.

I still haven't organised better camera gear, the mobile phone camera has many limitations, as well as my ageing IT gear. This made me a bit lazy in maintaining this site, as it has become a bit tedious to add decent photos in an acceptable time frame.

Goodbrew Vector Equilibrium
One of the first bigger pieces is based on the 24 strut cuboctahedron aka vector equilibrium. The struts are brush painted, an area where I can still improve my skills. The structure has survived some drops of a few metres and still hangs out in a large warehouse.

Garden decoration
I came across some nice looking broom handles, with a hole on one side, which I could quickly convert into a 4-strut tetra. I used the pre-existing holes for a continuos inner tendon, and guestimated the length for the outer tendons on the first shot. Unlike larger tetras with slightly flexible struts, the result behaves very sturdy and without the tendency to collapse through its centre. It's now an eye catcher in our front yard, surrounded with two brugmansias.

Eclectic tetra
I rediscovered some dowels I prepared for my very first tensegrity builds, when I still deployed hooks to secure the strings. The dowels probably had the larger diameter I used for small-size models, while the additional 12 sticks through the centre have about the smallest diameter I used. Unless I get another dremel, I can't prepare similar small diameter struts anymore, but combination of materials with different girths in larger scale are well worth contemplating.

Another lucky find were nicely carved bamboo chopsticks. Finding the right length for this one took much longer than building the larger version garden decoration, I nevertheless like the small version a lot.

I sourced some old trampoline springs, and a friend cut some old pipes to lengths for me. I totally underestimated the strengths of the springs, and had to settle down with a slightly asymmetric version of an icosahedron shape. I haven't dared to try to collapse the structure, as I realised how easily working with heavy struts and high tension can lead to serious injury. The springs and the weight allow any impulse to reverberate through the structure for a long time, hitting struts and springs produces quite some interesting sounds. 

Steampunk tensegrity
As the metal started rusting slightly, I decided to give the dull grey with bits of rust a colourful makeover. Different perspectives show now different colours dominating, yet I'm not too sure yet how long it'll survive outdoors.


  1. I've tried and tried and tried to build this structure right but it always collapses in on itself. Some help would be great. I don't know where I'm going wrong.

  2. Which structure did you try to build? The Vector Equilibrium will collapse due to lack of tension. The 4 strut tetrahedron has the tendency to collapse when flexible struts are used, or string with much elasticity. It takes some experience and a bit of experimentation to get it right, and in small scale models it will probably still collapse if someone pushes it from the top.

    If you want some help, I need a few questions answered.
    1) Which structure you try to build?
    2) Strut material and length
    3) Material used for the tendons