Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Easy float

Winter has gone, and I got more curious whether my idea to float a tensegrity holds water. The disassembled structure, some 2 litre bags and the bits and pieces needed to put it all together fitted into a backpack, with the struts sticking out a little bit. So I took my trusty unicycle and made my way to Coburg Lake.

Tetrahedron ready to float

Like most of the time, it took a while to untangle the mess of strings. The attachment of the floatation bags needs improvement, but despite the slightly dissatisfying looks worked just like planned. As I didn't want to leave the structure behind, l tethered it to some string to get it back out.

Floating :)

I don't know whether the lake has much of a current, it seemed like the wind did most to move the tetrahedron around, the panel acting like a tiny sail. At this time, a kid approached me and asked "Why does this thing have the Illuminati on it?". Wow. A first-grader identifying the Eye of Horus as Illuminati symbol. He learned about it on youtube, as I later found out. I had probably less than 30 minutes of TV time a day when I was his age....

I enjoyed watching my piece slowly drifting along, adjusting the tether to prevent it from snagging on branches and finding different viewpoints. Taking footage didn't work as well as I wanted to, I guess a camera mounted on a tripod will do a much job in capturing more spectacular images.

Friday, 1 September 2017

Ideal dreams

Lasting outdoor installations don't come easy. My first garden decoration survived about two years, yet it became nearly invisible much earlier. A pea grew over it, which most likely made the strings indistinguishable from them, and they got pruned.

Mottled Heart needed some fixing while the tomatoes were growing through, but currently still opens a bit of space next to a rosemary bush. The steampunk tensegrity has been relocated, but I missed an opportunity to take a shot of it in its appreciated location.

My last release of an outdoor structure survived for about nine month, long enough in the same spot to bleach parts of the conduit. I noticed that someone didn't like it on the bare patch, but moved it closer to the fence. I doubt the intention involved increased visibility from the bike path.

Two beehives and some compost heaps appeared in the same space, and maybe the new custodians didn't consider my art appropriate. When I couldn't see it anymore, I went onto the common area to find traces of what happened. I found the collapsed heap of strut near to where it used to lounge next to the fence, and reclaimed them.

All strings still connected, none of them cut, meant someone forcefully collapsed to it through the centre. While the string I used seems flimsy compared to a rope, it loses only little tension over time. I used holes instead of grooves in the rim as attachment points, so upgrading the sculpture with a panel turned out a bit fiddly.

Corflute provides an ideal material, weather proof, relatively stiff and tear resistant. I used cable ties as attachment point, I'm eager to try simple small holes to secure the string. This version has gotten some severe beating by the wind lately, helping me to improve the durability of the attachment.

I build the first version of this idea in much sturdier ways, but I still couldn't do without cable ties.

Even the wooden structure weighs only little, I'm looking forward to float these structures on a body of water. 

Friday, 3 February 2017


I deviated a little bit from building tensegrities with hexastix, yet my knowledge of geometry helped a lot. I don't really know whether George Hart came up first with the idea to weave sticks (pencils) together in a double tetrahedral way, his sculpture 72 pencils usually pops up soon when researching them.

I found an instructable how to build hexastix, but I didn't like the idea to build a jig first. Luckily, I managed to dig up a cached copy of a different way to put it together, requiring just some rubber bands and patience.

As I still have an ample supply of sticks in various diameters and length, rubber bands aplenty and still some patience, I gave it my first shot.

First Hexastix

While I was happy with the result, I didn't like the idea to douse the entire structure in glue to make it solid. The rubber bands keep each of the eight hexagonal opening together, but only two of corner of each hexagon aren't held in place by the weaving pattern. A bit of wood glue fixed the most critical ones, and while most sticks can slide around, the object can be handled with disintegrating.

Encouraged by the first success, I decided to bring more colour into it.

Four colour hexastix
The colours emphasise the four intersecting axis of the object, but don't really make the double tetrahedral structure obvious. I haven't bothered yet to fix it with glue, so you see the rubber bands holding everything in place.

Level 4 hexastix
I realised that the pattern could be easily extended, the level 4 hexastix has 102 instead of 78 sticks. By placing the longer sticks in a way they they only stick out on one side, the tetrahedral base structure becomes more obvious.

Skewer hexastix
I did the bamboo skewer hexastix mainly to find out whether I still needed instructions, and realised that I finally understood the construction well enough to do it without any photographic help. Now I focussed more on having a pleasing relation of the core of the object to the extending hexagonal columns.

Level 5 hexastix
The sticks in the Level 5 hexastix have only 2mm diameter, so to change the aforementioned relation I either had to use much shorter sticks, or expand it with more sticks. This object has 126 sticks, and after glueing the corner sticks into place I gave it a bit of a paint job for more aesthetic appeal.

10 cm hexastix
The last variant explores shorter sticks, going back to 78 sticks. It is still held in place by rubber bands, fixing only the sticks which need to be glued in place. I'm convinced that I build it exactly the same way as all prior version, but for some unknown reason I need only fix three of the four hexagonal columns. Five out of the six hexastix I build display the same pattern when looking towards the core, the last one has two different ones.

The geometry of the hexastix offered some surprises to me. It's basically a merkaba shape, two intersecting tetrahedra.