Curling Spiral

Curling Spiral is the fascinating work of mathematician and artist John Edmark’s  in kinetic sculptures, transformable objects, and the surprising structures hidden within the geometry of nature. The way the sculpture curls so naturally when you fold the sides open is so mesmerizing and lifelike.

Materials you need to fabricate this sculpture: 1/8″ plywood, Glue, Scissors and Non-stretchy fabric (for joining the wooden pieces together). The design has 2 symmetrical sides, each side made up of 18 wood pieces that are joined together to form a geometric spiral. Each of the 18 pieces are the same irregular quadrilateral shape but different sizes.

The pieces line up perfectly so that between any two consecutive pieces, the shorter side of the larger piece is the same length of the longer side of the shorter piece. Next step is laser cutting.

Since there’s so many pieces, and the order in which you glue them together is very important, you can stack them together in order of size so that you can keep track of the pieces easily.

With fabric scissors, cut the fabric into strips that are 1/2 inch thick. You’re going to need strips that are just long enough to fit between each pair of pieces. Each piece will have a fabric joint on three of its sides, except for the four pieces that will be at the very ends of the spiral.

Now comes the tricky part: joining the two spirals together along the outer spine. Cut more 1/2 inch thick fabric strips. Take one spiral and glue the fabric strips along the outer spine, so that half of the strip is connected to the spiral, and the other half is hanging off. Take the other spiral and place it on top of the first spiral, with fabric joints facing each other inside, so that they both line up nicely and form the two sides of the sculpture.

Then fold in half of the fabric strip that you glued along the outer spine, add some glue on top of the flap of fabric, and press the other spiral on top so that they are hinged together. Repeat this for each of the 18 pairs of wooden pieces, until the whole spiral is joined.

To curl and uncurl the spiral, simply one hand on each side of the spiral at the base (the largest piece at the end of the spiral) and move your hands toward and away from each other (like opening and closing a book). When your hands move closer together to close the gap between the two sides of the spiral, the spiral will uncurl. Moving your hands farther apart will make the spiral curl up into a ball.