Curve-stitch Designs

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Curve-stitch parabolaI discovered curve stitching in junior high school. This technique, invented by Englishwoman Mary Everest Boole (1832–1916) in 1904, produces apparent curves by means of perfectly straight lines. Mary Boole worked with thread and cardstock, though I personally have only worked with pen or pencil on paper and, more recently, with a computer. Curve stitching relies on the fact that a curve can be approximated by a finite number of closely spaced tangents, and the archetypal curve-stitch figure is that of the parabola, shown at the right.

Over the years, I have been less interested in devising new curve-stitch designs than I have been of executing designs really well. When I was in high school, however, I did develop one design, which I call a curve-stitch isometric cube, and which I executed with great success (and much tedium) by hand.

Now that I have my own computer and some arcane programming skills, executing designs (and even exploring new designs) has become much easier. I still use pencil and paper, of course, but I have also found it convenient to create designs through programming. This can be almost as tedious as working with pen and ink, but it has the advantage that mistakes generally don’t make me start over from the beginning. Moreover, once I get a program right, I can reproduce a design effortlessly and at will.

Below are links to a discussion of my curve-stitch isometric cube, as well as to other new designs.

In response to a number of requests for advice about producing designs using a computer, i have added a page on the topic. This is technical and not forCover of Contemporary Art of Science and Technology everyone, but it will, I hope, be useful to some visitors.

I am happy to report that some of my designs have appeared in a book by Chinese teacher and new media artist Zhang Yanxiang. The book is Contemporary Art of Science and Technology (Science Press, ISBN 978-7-03-020415-8). The rather nice cover is reproduced at the right. (Click on this and following pictures to view a larger version.) Four of my designs related to those in “Some Circular Designs” and “More Generalizations” (links below) appear in Yanxiang’s book. Here are reproductions of the pages containing them (my designs are the top two on each page:


Page from Contemporary Art of Science and Technology

Page from Contemporary Art of Science and Technology

In 2014, my curve-stitch isometric cube (see link below) appeared on the cover of an issue of Vinculum, a journal of the Mathematical Association of Victoria. In 2015, another of my designs appeared on the cover of Vinculum.

Cover of Vinculum, 04/14

Cover of Vinculum, 02/15

— LED, 1/8/2008, rev. 4/21/2023

Curve-stitch Isometric Cube—a design of mine from my high school days

A Family of New Designs—beginning with a square and some parabolas, a little generalization goes a long way

Some Circular Designs—another study in generalizations, inspired by visitor Bob Beckers

More Generalizations—new design and their generalizations

Isometric Cube Revisited—generalizing an old design

Make Your Own Designs—guidance on the use of PostScript to produce curve-stitch designs

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