Gabriele Meyer

Senior Lecturer
Department of Mathematics, University of Wisconsin, Madison
Madison, WI, USA

I like to crochet hyperbolic surfaces. This work is at the intersection of mathematics and art. The technique is an ancient female craft, but it borrows from basket making, since I crochet around shaped line. This gives the surface the tension, so that it curves in space. The undulating curves are hyperbolic, i.e. the neighborhood of any point is shaped like a saddle.
My surfaces are large and are hung from the ceiling. They show their structure particularly nicely, if they are illuminated. The illumination is by fairy lights, which are battery operated, so the surface can be hung anywhere.
The forms I make are inspired by sea life, algae and also blossoms.

Illuminated Blossom
Illuminated Blossom
50 x 80 cm

This surface started out as a long tube, which gradually gets larger at one end, until it widens ever more explosively and the tension in the surface makes it curve hyperbolically.
The fairy lights inside can show this structure very effectively.
This surface image reminds me of sea creatures illuminated mysteriously in the darkness.

Conic ovoid lamp with hyperbolic axes and tail
Conic ovoid lamp with hyperbolic axes and tail
88 x 60 cm

This piece started out as a cone shaped ovoid. I added three hyperbolic axes on the outside. Each time the crochet reached the long end of the cone, I added a little to the length of the tail, which is two hyperbolic planes attached to each other. The transition from three axes along the cone to two axes along the tail was a bit tricky, since the hyperbolic crochet was done in one go as a single spiral.
I imagine some sea algae, when I see this. There are algae with little enclosed air bubbles, which help the algae float.
The cone shaped ovoid appears pink, because the plastic wire inside is bright orange. Orange seems to be the industry standard for thick plastic wire.