Saturday, March 20, 2010

Tessellations..what's this?

M.C. Escher is the artist most people think of when they visualize tessellations.
This image can be viewed at Google Images
Add ImageDiscuss possible applications where a tessellation might be an appropriate design element for a commercial product.
To learn more about tessellations and give you ideas of how they can be used, you might visit Mark Harden's ArtChive online.
Questions that you might ask could be...
Who invented tessellations?
Is a tessellation an invention of humans?
Is a tessellation art or just math?

New Assignment: April 2010
You are going to create clay tiles that will tessellate. The final product will be a mosaic tessellation of 6 tiles or more depending on size.

California Art Standards addressed in this lesson:
1.4 Analyze and describe how the composition of a work of art is affected by the use of a particular principle of design. (pattern, repetition, color)
2.1 Solve a visual arts problem that involves the effective use of the elements of art and the principles of design. (create a tile mosaic tessellation)
4.5 Employ the conventions of art criticism in writing and speaking about works of art. (self-assessment and class critique)
  1. The first step is to create a tessellating tile shape. Go to and follow the instructions for creating a shape using tracing paper. Remember that we will be creating this tile in clay, so simple shapes will be easier
  2. When you have created you tessellation shape, trace it at least 6 times on a larger piece of tracing paper to see if it fits together with no gaps in a regular pattern. A true tessellation covers a 2D plane with "no gaps and no overlaps".
  3. Working with clay:
  • Roll out a slab of clay 1/2 inch thick
  • Trace your tessellating shape on the clay 6 times (You can use your test sheet to trace all 6 at one time)
  • Carefully transfer you design to each tile and let the clay rest overnight between 2 sheets of drywall (It is best not to pick up the clay at all while you are working on it. Keep it flat on the drywall and then the tiles will not warp)
  • Day two..incise lines, and use shallow bas-relief techniques to define image while clay is still semi-plastic
  • Day 3 - when clay has dried to leather hardness, carefully cut out each shape with a sharp knife
  • Separate the tiles slightly by sliding them apart. Then gently smooth edges and remove crumbs. Alow tiles to dry slowly between two sheets of drywall for at least 5 days
  • Bisque fire tiles to cone 03
  • Use cold finishes to add color (watercolors, colored pencils and clear acrylic gloss)
  • Glue tiles to backing board (mat board), sign board with permanent marker
  • Take a digital photograph of your finished mosaic, insert this image into your self-assessment sheet. Place both your mosaic and assessment sheet in the rack for completed work.

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