Mountain Laurel

Mathematical art geometry raised 3D Penrose tiling by Debora Coombs & Duane Bailey at Williams College

Mountain Laurel (oblique view)

 

Mountain Laurel is one of three recently completed sculptures now on display in the Schow Science Library at Williams College. They show an area of three-dimensional Penrose tiling that continues to infinity in all directions. This ongoing series is a collaboration with my friend computer scientist Duane Bailey who has spent 30+ years investigating Penrose tiling. Our exhibition is called a.periodicity a mathematical term for this curious symmetry.

The sculptures are structurally identical -all precisely the same size and shape. But each is coloured differently according to some aspect of the mathematics. Mountain Laurel provides insight into the relationship between 2D and 3D versions of Penrose tiling.

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In two-dimensions Penrose tiling requires two different shapes to construct; a fat rhombus and a skinny rhombus. Although each tile in the sculpture is identical, Mountain Laurel codes them according to the shadow they would project onto a flat surface. Green tiles would project the shadow of a skinny rhombus in 2D. Pink tiles would create the shadow of a fat rhombus in 2D.

In all three sculptures, colour enables us to see unexpected shapes and patterns when the sculpture is viewed from different angles. Mountain Laurel is built from identical rhombi -the tiles are all the same shape – but the composition yields marvelously irregular patterns. Shapes and rhythms appear and disintegrate as you move around the sculpture.

 

The back of the sculpture provided its title Mountain Laurel. Here’s work in progress with binder clips and reverse-engineered clothes pins.

Aperiodic tilings are mathematical models for quasicrystals, physical solids that were discovered in 1982 by Dan Shechtman who subsequently won the Nobel prize for his work in 2011. I’ve also built them in stained glass, with mathematical rules encoded into the surface pattern.

 

 

 

 

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Artist residency, tiling projects

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Work in progress on mathematical tiling done during my Artist Residency at MASS MoCA this month. Also models made with computer scientist Duane Bailey this past July. Scroll down this post for construction pics.

 

38 lanterns for NYCity gala

 

photo 1This time last week I was in NY City at MASS MoCA’s 15th anniversary fundraising gala with artist Darren Waterston showing off our latest collaboration, a sold-out edition of 35 lanterns. It was such a pleasure to work on Darren’s spectacular installation Filthy Lucre (the centerpiece of his show Uncertain Beauty at MASS MoCA). Watching him paint beautiful, mysterious landscapes onto panes of glass for the lanterns was equally splendid. A real treat.

Darren paintingDarren Waterston, painting landscapes onto glass

 

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gala w Darren

The Plank: Patinated and Polished to Perfection

Creative collaboration: 8.5ft of steel reinforced, painted, kiln-fired and copper-foiled stained glass for NY artist Jason Middlebrook; now finished and on exhibition in Chicago.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glazing the Middlebrook plank

Photos taken in the studio today, starting with tack-soldering the copper-foiled glass into the steel frame.

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and the flip side of the plank, with glass in place and ready to be soldered tomorrow morning.

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Plus one last photo of our fancy gloves…

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Read other posts about Jason Middlebrook‘s stained glass plank: the early drawings; welding and fabricating a steel armaturereinforcing the armature, cladding with copper foil, modeling the tree bark, taking templates and cutting glass.

Or come to Open Studio tomorrow, Friday Sept 5th, from 4-6pm

Open Studio Friday, Sept 5th 4-6pm

My latest artist collaboration: a stained glass plank for Jason Middlebrook. Come and visit my studio before it leaves for Chicago. All welcome (details below).

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photo 3 Above, still wrapping the armature with copper foil. Below, glasspainting.

Read other posts about Jason Middlebrook‘s stained glass plank: the early drawings; welding and fabricating a steel armaturereinforcing the armature, cladding with copper foil, modeling the tree bark, taking templates and cutting glass.

photo 4The glass on the left still has one layer of contact paper from the sandblasting. I’m painting enamel into the areas that were blasted.

photo 5Removing contact paper masks. After a little cleaning up, I kiln-fired each piece to fix the enamel permanently into the surface of the glass.

If you’re really interested, and live near enough, do come and visit my studio on Friday to see the plank before it leaves for Chicago.     Time: 4-6pm, Friday Sept 5th. Where: 359 Rue Madeline, Readsboro VT 05350. Email: dcoombs@myfairpoint.net or call me, area code 802, 423~5640.

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Steel & stained glass for Jason Middlebrook

photo 2Welding and grinding continues…

photo 4Richard has added reinforcing brackets at intervals around the perimeter of the armature according to the drawing to strengthen the whole armature and create a structure to support the bark of the plank.

Armature for stained glass plank; Jason Middlebrook and Debora CoombsNext, the bars, or “ferramenta” in stained glass lingo, which separate the painted glass panes. All have been cut and welded precisely according to Jason’s drawing.
photo 3The armature is complete.

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Next, I began wrapping every inch of steel with copper foil. See the ribbon-like perimeter with it’s reinforcing brackets.

photo 5I used 1/.4″ thick glass cut with an irregular chamfered edge to represent the outer cambium layer of the plank (between bark and wood). I wanted this to be flush with the surface of the glass panes. Concertina-like strips of bronze fill cavities in the armature to support the bark.

photo 5This was the first experimental section of the perimeter, copper-clad and sculpted with solder to resemble tree bark.

And here’s the glasscutting almost complete. I was engrossed and didn’t take photos…

photo 1-2..but Richard took a shot of me making the very last template.

photo 5-1Each pane was cut very precisely from a rubbing made from the armature.

Jason was excited to see the glass laid out over his drawing when he arrived on Thursday to start cutting masks for the sandblasting. Each pane was then sandblasted to create an incised area that was painted and kiln-fired with black glass stainers enamel.

photo 2-1Here’s the glass, laid over the cartoon. Today I’ve been glasspainting…. more photos to follow!