Sunday, April 17, 2011

Exploring Tensegrity

Normally after we've completed a dome, we have a few ideas about what we may want to do next, but we generally take a few days to mull it over.  The amount of work that goes into creating a dome seems to necessitate a period of post-dome making enjoyment (just appreciating and admiring the dome) but also a period of relaxation and just letting our hands rest from the hole punching or cutting or drilling.  After posting about our newest dome yesterday, we felt strangely inspired and immediately started discussing the type of dome we'd like to create next.  One thing we both agreed on was that we wanted to explore tensegrity.  Now to be entirely honest, Morgan is a bit more interested in tensegrity than I am.  I personally find it interesting but I don't find it as beautiful as other structures. Today while Aias and I spent some time with friends, Morgan experimented a bit with some tensegrity structures.   We have plans to create something much larger and more impressive, but I wanted to share some images of his experiments.

This first structure is made of straws and yarn.  A hole punch was used to punch holes in the straws.  It's not the most beautiful looking little thing, but it definitely helped me conceptualize how you can have tensegrity without the use of an elastic or stretchy rope:

The second structure he made is a lot more "cool" looking.  It's made out of popsicle sticks and elastic bands.  The grooves in the end of the popsicle sticks were made using a Dremel cutting attachment.  This one actually took the two of us to construct because the elastic bands kept shooting in all directions:

Finally, this is just a tiny example of building unit you could use to construct a larger tensegrity structure, as inspired by George Hart's Soda Straw Tensegrity Structures.  This little triangle was made using straws, elastic bands, and paper clips:

One last thing... an interesting connection between babies and tensegrity.  Maybe some of you recognize this toy?

It's the Manhattan Toy Skwish Classic, the first commercially available children's toy that was a pure tensegrity.  A lovely example of tensegrity, for babies!  The story of this toy and its creator can be found here.

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