Mathematical Beadwork

Or how a project for class was actually really fun and fascinating.

I’m taking this Mathematics of Art class for my Math 1 credit because I am a liberal arts student through and through, and I wanted to share a project I did for the class because I think it’s really neat.

We had two projects due, actually. For the first one we’d been talking a lot about the mathematics in patterns so I took a previous project and analysed it.


I will never stop loving these bracelets.

Anyway, for my second project I wanted to build on the ideas we’d explored with patterns, but I also really wanted to do a project in 3-D. So I started thinking about applicable ways to use beadwork to create something in 3 dimensions.

I have found a new muse in Gwen Fisher. Her work is beautiful, and her gallery at the bridges math/art site is stunning. I was especially impressed by her expression of Borromean Rings.

It was the one in the lower right that really caught my eye. Where have I seen shapes like that before? (Once again, Diane Fitzgerald is still totally my hero) It’s worth noting that it’s mathematically impossible to manifest Borromean Rings as perfect circles in the real world, so using ellipses or ovals is kinda unavoidable.


This is the set of rings I came up with. The idea behind Borromean Rings is that any two of the rings are not linked together in any way, but all three together are impossible to separate. In order to accomplish this, I created two separate rings first, and then had to work the third around the first two to link them together.


The piece was still a little loose for my taste as a pendant after I’d finished with it, so I stabilized it by adding a single silver decorative bead to the center. It also, isn’t actually attached to any of the rings.



I mentioned earlier that I wanted to keep working with a pattern. This time, I had to find a pattern that would tessellate not only laterally, but also around a 5 (or in this case, a 7) count tube. I managed to find a really fascinating article  which contained a bunch of different patterns for bead crochet bracelets.

Example Bracelet

That’s not a problem, I’m good at adapting patterns, and the way the beads lay when finished is so similar to peyote, it wasn’t hard to adapt. That bracelet up there is theirs, they show that the pattern does in fact tessellate.

Pattern 1


Of course, my adaption is on a much smaller scale, but here you can see how I expressed this pattern.



It does tessellate circularly, though the ends of the oval disrupt the pattern.


Each of the rings has a base color and a contrast color which changes based on the ring.


It’s not exactly something I tend to wear, but I really like it, and as a conceptual project it works well. Let me know what you think in the comments!




4 responses to “Mathematical Beadwork

  1. Pingback: Lily Earrings Triumph | WhipStitchDesigns

  2. Pingback: Copy-cat Earrings | WhipStitchDesigns

  3. Pingback: A Year End Review | WhipStitchDesigns

  4. Pingback: Christmas Ornament! | WhipStitchDesigns

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s