Monday, January 3, 2011


Announcing another breakthrough from the Non-Orientable Manifold Lab!

I said I was going to call it a "Bagel Box," but that's so 2010. It's a new year, and "Möbius Diatom Box"* has a better ring to it (so to speak).

I took advantage of Saturday's warm weather to throw some tori.

Then it rained for two days, so I moved the tori inside to dry; and then winter returned, so after I trimmed the tori outside in the subfreezing night air (brrr), I moved production into the dining room.

I carefully marked and cut the first torus, going for an angular look.

Silly me. Those 90o angles locked the two rings together with impressive efficiency. I had to smoosh the clay to get the torus open, and both rings ripped a bit.

Oh well, back to the drawing board.

I carefully marked and cut the second torus. No sharp angles this time.

Incidentally, in preparation for this experiment, this weekend I tried (and failed) to slice four bagels into interlocked halves; the near-lack of bagel holes left no room to maneuver the knife. I can now say it's significantly easier to cut a clay torus this way than a bagel, but the rough edges stand out more in the clay than on the bagel, mainly because a linked-sliced bagel is almost entirely rough edges, whereas a hollow clay torus has the potential to be lovely and smooth all over.

Despite some jagged lines, the slicing achieved the desired outcome.

It turns out that this kind of box is a two-person job. My beloved engineer patiently held each ring in succession while I tidied up the other ring's rough edges.

Of course, no clay math toy is complete without holes.

*George Hart calls the cut surfaces "two-twist Möbius strips." Although that second twist means the cut surface isn't really a Möbius strip, I'm sticking with the name "Möbius diatom box."

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