The Foehr Reef
August 10, 2014 8:34 AM   Subscribe

The Foehr Reef is part of the worldwide Crochet Coral Reef Project. It was made by over 700 women and combines more than 4000 individual pieces of marine wonder. A short video shows its beauty [alternating English and German audio]. PDFs with pictures. "The Crochet Coral Reef is a woolly celebration of the intersection of higher geometry and feminine handicraft, and a testimony to the disappearing wonders of the marine world." It originated out of a desire to increase awareness of environmental threats to the world's reefs and is a conjunction of art, environmentalism, and geometry.

Woolly reefs arise around the world, currently seeking crocheters for a project in Australia. An upcoming exhibit in Abu Dhabi will showcase the reefs of the Persian Gulf. The Foehr Reef is currently on display in Krefeld.

Instructions on hyperbolic crochet basics for reef corals [PDF]. More patterns here and on ravelry [2, 3].
Pinterest board [2, 3].
posted by travelwithcats (7 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

There also was a TED talk and a kickstarter. Idea by twin sisters Margaret Wertheim and Christine Wertheim from the Institute For Figuring, a nonprofit organization.
posted by travelwithcats at 9:02 AM on August 10, 2014

Love it. I really hope I can visit the Great Barrier Reef while it's still Great...
posted by Strass at 9:34 AM on August 10, 2014

There are lots of other interesting things at the Institute For Figuring, if you like mathy art and arty math.
posted by benito.strauss at 10:06 AM on August 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

That is magnificent. I love the beaded pseudosphere.
posted by langtonsant at 2:06 PM on August 10, 2014 [4 favorites]

Fiber arts have exploded as a serious thing in math academia in the last ten or fifteen years, and it's so very pleasing. Major conferences now routinely have heavily-attended sessions for all kinds of fiber arts projects, young mathematicians can put it on their CV as an interest, etc. It's exactly this kind of project that allows it to happen - showing mathematicians why fiber arts are a really useful math tool, and showing the public in a really accessible and magnetic way why these sort of obscure-at-first math ideas are not so obscure. (As I understand it there is some weirdness with the crochet coral reef project specifically, IIRC that the originators have insisted on retaining control over which institutions can host "official" instances of it, rather than just releasing the idea and encouraging everybody to go nuts with it. But either way, the effect this kind of project has had is extremely positive.)

My household mathematician learned to crochet in order to make these little yarn corals to show his students, and so he could teach the students, and it's been a lot of fun and something he shares with a bunch of his younger colleagues. (Also these things are easy to make - beginning crocheters can do it while watching tv etc. So if you're interested at all, give it a shot.)
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:36 PM on August 10, 2014 [2 favorites]

I love how much maths is involved in crafts. And I kind of love that most people don't know. The stereotype of sweet old grandma knitting by the fire is so wrong - knitting patterns (and crochet, and sewing) can be an intellectual challenge as much as as a creative outlet. Thanks for posting this.
posted by superfish at 2:25 AM on August 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

superfish, if you ever need to support your argument you can point out that the early computers took the idea of a punched card from textile looms.
posted by benito.strauss at 10:33 AM on August 11, 2014

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