Quite a while ago, I wrote about some pretty cool geometric bead work by chemists inspired by fullerenes - really lovely 3-D molecular structures.  One reader, Phyllis Kaplan, left me a comment and tipped me off about her friend Laura Shea's website, A Dancing Rainbow.

Her mathematically themed bead work is a treat for anyone who loves bead work.  She creates complex polyhedral structures with just beads and thread. Laura's work makes me wish I had paid greater attention to geometry while at school for there is great beauty in these structures.

Blossoms in the Square (truncated octahedra)
She explains her technique, "I specialize in "angle stitching". The three regular tilings (square, triangle, and hexagon) can be interpreted in specific styles of bead netting known as right angle weave, triangle stitch, hexagonal stitch and semi-regular tilings. I construct and combine regular and semi-regular polyhedra as bead frame structures often transforming the basic polyhedral patterns by adjusting the size and placement of the beads." 

Many of her designs are based on what she calls an Eureka bead which is a truncated icosahedron. The top picture shows her deft manipulation of color to individualize the beads.  I also love her Fluffies made with 3 mm bicones. These are truncated icosahedrons with 12 partial dodecahedra for embellishment.


The Great Rhombicosidodecahedron with cubes focal below is made from 3 mm bicones.  The "cubes" refer to the clusters of beads which are clearly seen in the spokes of this lovely structure.  Laura says there are "20 cubes projecting from 20 square faces and 10 cube chains extending from 10 square faces."

Here is another great rhombicosidodecahedron variation with cubes called Opal Blossom. This one has 30 cubes projecting from 30 square faces.

Yet another variation is her Floral creation - the bicones create a star in the middle!

Laura started formal bead lessons way back in 1993 and continue to take many more classes sponsored by the Bead Society in Greater Chicago.  At one of their retreats in 1997, Laura said, "I had my big aha moment at that retreat which  pointed me in the direction of geometric  patterns and structures.  I stopped at a book store before I got home (the retreat was a couple of hours away in Wisconsin) to shop in the Math section, a first for me. I worked out how to make self-supporting bead polyhedra from the diagrams in one of the math books."

She has not looked back ever since. She teaches her specialized craft and has a limited number of kits on her site.  Laura's designs have been published  in numerous magazines and she is working on a book. All of which confirms what she says, "I like pondering patterns and symbols and connections and finding ways to incorporate them in my beadwork."  She sure does and it shows.

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