How I used maths in my Jacobean crewelwork design

I thought it would be fun to take a closer look at my Jacobean crewelwork piece for the Royal School of Needlework certificate. Specifically, I want to share with you how I incorporated maths into the design.

I’ve always been a maths and science geek as well as enjoying art and craft. So any opportunity to combine them all is good for me!

First, I thought about the overall shape and flow of my design. I played around with a few ideas and I most liked the idea of using the infinity symbol as a base. This felt especially apt when I discovered that the symbol we associate with the concept of infinity was first used in the 17th Century. Which is also the century of the Jacobean era!

In order to incorporate my different design elements in a balanced way, I needed to make the infinity symbol a bit lopsided. But the basic foundation is still there!

Image showing how I used the infinity symbol as the foundation for my Jacobean crewelwork design

The next nod to maths was the interweaving vine. Normally I’d have drawn this a little differently, in more of a spiral fashion. However I went with this more stylistic approach so that I could use the shape of a sine wave.

The sine wave crops up a lot in maths and physics, so I used it a lot in my studies.

Image showing how I used the sine wave shape for the interweaving vine.

Nature’s code

Another concept I used was the Fibonacci sequence as this is also referred to as “nature’s code”. Generating the sequence is easy, you simply add the last two numbers in the sequence together to get the next number. So the sequence starts 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13 etc.

This sequence is thought of as “nature’s code” because you’ll often find that the number of leaves, seeds, petals or branches a plant has is a number on the Fibonacci sequence. Perhaps why a four leaf clover is so rare??

So whenever I was creating groups in my design, I made sure that the number in the group was part of the sequence. In practice, this meant I made sure to avoid groups of four or six.

Image showing where and how I used the Fibonacci sequence in my design.

The final consideration when tweaking the position of all the design elements was the overall shape. I realised that a few tweaks would give me a shape that was similar to the outlines of the fox and owl’s heads. That kind of symmetry feels like a perfect blend of maths and design!

Image showing how the overall design of my Jacobean crewelwork mirrors the shapes of the fox and owl heads.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this peak behind the scenes of my design process! Had you recognised any of the maths elements in my design? You can read more about my work for the RSN certificate here.

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