Ellie Baker

Artist and Computer Scientist
Lexington, Massachusetts, USA

For me, creating visual art reflects a quest for deeper understanding--of science, mathematics, society, or self--and a wish to share the quest.

This artwork is an outgrowth of an extended research project with Susan Goldstine on applications of mathematics to bead crochet. In our book, “Crafting Conundrums: Puzzles and Patterns for the Bead Crochet Artist” (AK Peters/CRC Press 2014), we outline a new methodology for designing bead crochet patterns. Bead crochet's spiral structure (due to crocheting in the round) makes designing in this medium surprisingly tricky. The book presents a series of mathematically inspired design challenges, including chapters on torus knots, Escher-style designs, wallpaper groups, map coloring, and more.

Fish Transformation Necklace and Scarf
Fish Transformation Necklace and Scarf
40 x 40 cm
Bead crochet (glass and sterling beads, thread) and printed fabric.

The design printed on the fabric of this scarf is the infinitely repeating planar pattern that a tiny explorer could map out by charting the surface of the necklace in all directions (the universal cover of the beaded rope). Designing directly in this “bead plane” (rather than on traditional bead crochet layouts) enables easier creation of more complex patterns. We refer to a design composed of a single interlocking tile in multiple colors as an Escher-style design. This particular design transforms between three Escher-style patterns with the same lattice. It progresses through two geometric patterns, a pattern of interlocking fish, and back again.
Special thanks to Spoonflower.com, and to Gwen Fisher and Louise Gould for help and ideas.