Illuminating Geometry

Platonic solids lit from within

Platonic solids lit from within

Platonic solids made from paper and lit from within so they glow gently in low light. When many of these lanterns, of different sizes and colours, are put together they create a magical landscape.     

 

 

 

 

 

Here is a video of the lanterns and a little bit about how I make them:

 

Geometric lanterns in the dark

Geometric lanterns in the dark

These lanterns are made from all sorts of paper including: recycled envelopes, tissue paper, tracing paper, washi paper, old wrapping paper and copier paper. Once the lanterns are lit, a wonderful effect is achieved by the light passing through the different thicknesses and colours of the  papers. The paper is thicker where the paper circles are stuck together and light leaks out from the vertices,  creating a pattern of light and dark within each lantern.

 

 

 

 

imageSo far the lanterns I have made range in size from 10 cm to 60 cm in diameter. The largest lantern is lit with a series of RGB LEDs that can be controlled remotely, allowing the colour of the lantern to be changed to suit the mood of the exhibition. I am currently making a much larger centre piece for the collection. It will be about a metre across. The paper circles will be made with a laser cutter and laced together to form the solid shape.

How to draw a regular pentagon

How to draw a regular pentagon

Making these geometric lanterns is an exciting workshop. To make your own lantern, first of all you must make a template the right size for the circles you want to use to make up your lantern. You can make your own templates by learning some old school geometry using only a compass and a ruler to create a the regular polygon of your choice. If that is not for you, I will supply ready made templates. Use the template to fold the paper circles and then glue them together to make a tetrahedron, cube, octahedron, dodecahedron or icosahedron. Illuminate your creation with an LED, hang it up and enjoy! The beauty of this workshop is that it can be adjusted to suit all levels of ability. Some people might enjoy simply making the shapes and learning  in an experiential way. For others more interested in geometry, maths or engineering, it can be used as a way to explore the principles of geometry in detail.  If you would like to host this workshop, please leave me a message.

An icosahedron

An icosahedron

If you have forgotten your geometry lessons (or are yet to have them) let me explain a few geometry terms. Platonic solids are 3D shapes where each face is the same regular polygon and the same number of polygons meet at each vertex (or corner). There are five Platonic solids. A tetrahedron has four sides that are equilateral triangles. A cube has six square sides. An octahedron has eight sides which are equilateral triangles. A dodecahedron has twelve sides that are pentagons and an icosahedron has twenty sides that are equilateral triangles. A regular poylgon is a 2D shape where all the internal angles are equal and all the sides are of equal length, for example a square, an equilateral triangle, a pentagon or a hexagon.

Platonic solids in a tree

Platonic solids in a tree

These solid shapes have been known since ancient times and were described in some detail by Pythagorus, Theatetus, and Euclid. Plato assigned each shape to one of the four classical elements. The cube represented Earth, the octahedron air, the icosahedron water and the tetrahedron fire. But what of the dodecahedron? Plato said it “was used by the god for arranging the constellations in the whole heaven”.

For more photos check out my Flickr page: http://www.flickr.com/photos/111854540@N03/sets/72157638792748925/

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