Colorful. Community. Crochet? Coral? Say what?
You can be part of one of the coolest projects I’ve ever heard of: the Hyperbolic Crocheted Coral Reef.
Roanoke College is a satellite for the worldwide effort that weaves science, mathematics and art / handicraft — and in a fun, community way.
So on a recent Sunday afternoon Coordinator / RC Math Professor Jan Minton and colleagues hosted an open house to explain the project. Crocheted “corals” and how-to brochures graced tables at Monterey mansion — with the grandest display in the late Katherine Burke’s old dining room.
Over elegant cookies and tea, fascinated folks also enjoyed a brief video of a talk by L.A. science writer Margaret Wertheim, who crafted the original coral reef with twin sister and artist Christine.
The video noted that corals are dying as oceans warm. (Some attendees mentioned other threats too: people walking on reefs, souvenir-seekers and sunscreen chemicals.)
Margaret revealed “The Beautiful Math of Coral” — breaking down that daunting math-thing so that even I had a chance to understand it (and exhale).
“[Crocheting] is like kindergarten for grown-ups,” she said. An engaging “play-tank” vs. a think-tank, teaching an abstraction by letting people play with material.
“Why wool?” you might ask. It turns out that hyperbolic geometry is almost impossible to model except via crochet. Think “frilly” forms: lettuces and sea slugs.
A simple pattern, repeated over and over, grows fast and gets frilly, said Jan. She had seen the crocheted reef at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum.
Nature — and this yarn-art mimicking it — loves the forms, explained the brochure. And the “freeform”: craft your own bright “mounds of brain coral, towered spires of pillar coral, blooms of carnation coral, and forests of kelp” to add to the array. (Here’s a line to encourage my clumsy mitts: “Living forms result from deviation and imperfection.”)
Jan said that RC Olin Gallery Director Talia Logan plans to exhibit “the Roanoke Valley Reef” crafted by you folks in January 2013. The college is “very excited to foster this community project…
“We obviously need LOTS of crocheters,” said Jan. “No experience is needed. … The stitch is easy to learn and with that you are off and running.”
Now, wouldn’t it be cool to add your handiwork – even if you don’t think yourself “handy” — to a colossal creation?
For more info, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 375-2488. See photos, www.crochetcoralreef.org Among the ways to participate: donate yarn, crochet at home or with a group, take a workshop or even relax / mass-crochet at a weekend retreat (probably Jan. 2012, Claytor Lake). (And crafts aren’t just for girls; pretend you’re a rugged sailor carving scrimshaw, or a submariner keeping busy.)