For hundreds of years mathematicians tried to show that anything like hyperbolic space was impossible, until finally, in the nineteenth century, they accepted the "existence" of this aberrant geometry. Still many believed it wasn't possible to model the structure materially. They were thus surprised to learn in 1997 that Dr. Daina Taimina had done just that using the traditional art of crochet.
NEWS FLASH APRIL 2009
Daina Taimina's long-awaited book is now available. Entitled Crocheting Adventures wth Hyperbolic Planes, the book is a feast of information about all aspects of the mathematics of hyperbolic space. Complete with over 200 photos and diagrams, plus a detailed account of her discovery of hyperbolic crochet, the book is an invaluabe resource to mathematical and crochet enthusiasts everywhere. The IFF highly recommeds this lushy produced volume!
Three different "wrappings" of a large variegated symmetric hyperbolic plane by Daina Taimina.
A mathematician at Cornell University, Daina grew up in Latvia where at an early age she learned to knit and crochet. She is a superb knitter and when she initially had the inspiration that led her to then invention of hyperbolic handicraft the first method she tried was knitting. You can indeed knit hyperbolic structures but it quickly becomes unmanageable with so many stitches on the needles; Daina realized that crochet would be the better method. She and her husband, Dr David Henderson, use these models as pedagogical tools in their classes on non-Euclidean geometry at Cornell, where the crocheted surfaces prove to be an invaluable educational resource in this often counter-intuitive field. Daina's models have also been included in the American Mathematical Model Collection at the Smithsonian Institution.
In her own artistic practice, Daina specializes in creating large, mathematically precise, symmetric hyperbolic planes. These are difficult to create as the crocheter must constantly change the rate of increase to keep the curvature of the surface constant. Daina has become so adept she can now do this by feel. For the rest of us, instructions for making these enimgatic forms are available in her newly published book.
Daina's elegant work has been shown in many art exhibitions and galleries around the world including Not The Knitting You Know at Eleven Eleven Gallery (Washington DC), Confini at the Musee d'Arte Nationale (Sardinia, Italy), and an exhibition curated by the Institute For Figuring at Machine Project gallery (Los Angeles).
More information about Daina's work can be seen on her Cornell website:
More photos of her work can be seen here on Flickr:
All images on this page are used with permission from Dr Taimina. If you wish to use her images please contact her directly through her website.