Laurie Toby Edison


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The Crochet Reef: Hyperbolic Crochet Art

Laurie says:

I was staying with Vonda McIntyre when I was in Seattle last week. Vonda makes amazing undersea creatures based on the hyperbolic crochet technique. She told me about an exhibit, The Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef, that was recently at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in DC. I wish I had known about it sooner. I’m always fascinated by the conjunction of science and art. One of these days I’m going to play with a microscope and photography.

It included included some of her creatures, including the one below. I’ve admired Vonda’s work for years and posted here about an installation I did for her on another visit here.



The idea of The Crochet Reef was originated as a homage to the Great Barrier Reef which is threatened by pollutants and global warming.  It was created by a world wide community of artists using classically feminine techniques.



Margaret and Christine Wertheim of the Institute For Figuring instigated a project to crochet a woolen reef. The sisters, who grew up in the state of Queensland, began the project in 2005 in their Los Angeles living room, and for the first four years of its life the Reef took over their house, gradually expanding to become the dominant life-form in their home.

At the same time the project began to expand into other cities and countries  until it has now become a worldwide movement that engages communities across the globe from Chicago, New York and London, to Melbourne, Dublin and Capetown. The Crochet Reef is a unique fusion of art, science, mathematics, handicraft and community practice that may well be the largest community art project in the world.

The Smithsonian explains about hyperbolic space:

In 1997, Dr Daina Taimina, a mathematician, discovered how to make physical models of the geometry known as “hyperbolic space” using the art of crochet. Until that time many mathematicians believed it was impossible to construct such forms; yet nature had been doing just that for hundreds of millions of years. Many marine organisms embody hyperbolic geometry in their anatomies, including corals. This geometry maximizes surface area in a limited volume, thereby providing greater opportunity for filter feeding by stationary corals.

Two of Vonda’s creatures are in this photo, the red jelly fish in the center left and the sea anemone in the lower center right.


The elegiac Bleached Bone Reef, featuring red-and-white coral tree by Quoin. Rubble coral piles by Margaret and Christine Wertheim and unknown Chinese factory workers. Miniature beaded corals by Nadia Severns, Jill Schreier and Pamela Stiles. Beaded jellyfish by Vonda N. McIntyre, white floaters by Evelyn Hardin, vintage doilies by makers unknown. In the background is the Branched Anemone Garden.


3 Responses to “The Crochet Reef: Hyperbolic Crochet Art”

  1. lilacsigil says:

    I was about to ask: *the* Vonda McIntyre? Thank you for the link! She’s an amazing author and I’m thrilled to see her amazing crochet work as well!

  2. Laurie Toby Edison says:

    She is amazing.

  3. Lynne Murray says:

    I appreciate the Vonda McIntyre link too, as it reminded me to revisit her work and once again be spellbound! As a reader who only knows names and not the person behind the work of a great many writers I admire, it was cool to hear more about her three-dimensional creative side!

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