Thursday, July 8, 2010

Cutting edge

I told myself "No More Holes." But then another voice in my head said "Aww, for old time's sake." Thus I find myself immersed in making a Double-Torus Klein Bottle with Total Hole Coverage.

Last time around, I made several Single Sized Hole/Total Coverage models (item number DT-SSH/TC in my as-yet-unwritten mail-order Klein Bottle catalog), and several Multiple Sized Hole/Partial Coverage models (DT-MSH/PC). This one's going to be the first--and I swear, the last (although really, who am I kidding?)--DT-MSH/TC model. It is going to be the 3D Klein Bottle model to end all Klein Bottle models.

Unless, of course, the weight of the in-progress bottle starts to weaken and then crush one of the toruses along its seam. In an ideal world, my clay toruses wouldn't have seams. As I make them on real-world pottery wheels, however, there's no way to avoid the join.

I know how to successfully repair cracks in leather hard clay, but I have zero experience repairing cracked and dented hole-filled toruses, particularly when I can't access the weak seam because it's on the inside surface. I did my best, levering out the dent with a wooden skewer, scoring and slipping and filling in the cracks, and re-piercing the holes, after which I turned to the internet for technical and moral support.

Cliff Stoll's company, ACME Klein Bottle, is the best online reference for anyone considering Klein Bottle manufactury, but it focuses almost exclusively on Pyrex and woolens, and the only references to repairs are for 50-year-old Friden calculators.

When it comes to repairing leather-hard clay Klein Bottles, Google's search engine failed me.

And that's when it hit me: what I'm doing isn't just a bizarre, pitiful waste of time, it's also cutting edge ceramic topological research. No one else on the planet is doing this sort of work--or if they are, they aren't blogging about it. So I shouldn't be surprised that I'm hitting the occasional bump in this never-before-traversed road (although how the road got there in the first place, if no one has ever traversed it, is an interesting question). I guess that makes my work pretty special.

It occurs to me that I haven't posted any photos from the wood firing back in June. Below are two shots of a DT-MSH/PC, a bottle now in a private collection in Wisconsin. It also occurs to me that maybe a bent paperclip is the right tool for accessing that inner seam of my wounded torus, so it's back to the grindstone for me.

4 comments:

Rae said...

This is what I find when I googled "Clay klein bottle repair": http://mightoughtashould.blogspot.com/2010/07/cutting-edge.html

Back where I started. I'm feeling ever so Klein right now.

Lisa B. said...

I tried saying 'Klein bottle model' three times really fast, and now feel as if my soft palate is full of holes.

Guy said...

You are such a geek. If there are days where the wheel is inaccessible, perhaps this will help you pass the time (if you haven't already done them):

http://www.woolworks.org/patterns/klein.txt

Bernadette said...

This one is beautiful and makes me want one of these things whose only function is filling us with wonder.