Monday, December 27, 2010

How does this stuff work?

One of the comments I get most often online about my math jewelry is that, even if they like the piece, people "don't understand what [I] do with the numbers." This is an unfortunate reality of the nature of being primarily a digitally-based operation; when I explain the work to people in real life, it's very easy to tactilely and visually explain the math. It's much more difficult to do in text! So I whipped up a quick visual guide to my math jewelry.

The example piece is Feigenbaum's Alpha Constant, sometimes called Feigenbaum's Second Constant. It's a constant based on the relationship between tines in a bifurcation diagram. But you don't need to know that! What you need to know is the number itself: 2.502907875095892... (Note the ellipsis: both Feigenbaum constants are irrational numbers, so they never terminate or repeat but continue on into infinity.)

Because irrational numbers are a source of (literally) endless randomization, I can use as many or as few digits as I want in a piece. I truncated this bracelet early on; it only has six digits in it (which I bolded below).

math jewelry explanation
α = 2.50290787509...

And what words obfuscate, images make clear! Hopefully. If you still don't see it, think on it some more and consider these factors:

  1. I omitted the decimal point for aesthetic purposes.

  2. The beads that are crossed out with red X's are the spacer beads that separate the digits. Don't count them!

  3. You start counting at the "male" end of the toggle, with 2 in the front, and loop around until the 0 in the back.

  4. In the case of 0, I simply put two spacer beads next to each other, using a lack of beads as a placeholder the same way that 0 acts as a placeholder in the number.

Applying This to My Other Math Jewelry
(Or, How To Do This Without a Picture)

I could generate an explanatory picture (like the one above) for each piece of jewelry I make, but each item is truly one of a kind. I would be making one for each item I sold on Etsy! Hopefully this catch-all blanket explanation will suffice instead.

I always incorporate the name of a number in the title of a piece. I'm also revamping my descriptions on Etsy and elsewhere to include the actual numbers. Either way, that's the first step: knowing what number it is.

The second step is to figure out which beads you count and which you don't. I try to make the spacer beads as obvious and unique as possible (here, for example, they're a copper-colored tubular glass bead instead of a round gemstone bead). Usually I accomplish this with a drastic difference in:

  • size
  • shape
  • material
  • color
  • two or more of the above.

Sometimes the spacer bead is a pattern of three beads, too. If I ever think a design isn't entirely self-explanatory, I will make it clear in the description

After that, it's a simple matter of counting to make sure I "spelled" the number right!

And if that isn't abundantly clear, let me know and I'll try to explain again!

No comments:

Post a Comment