Crochet your own coral reef

Well, I promised you a post about an amazing project, and here it is. I stumbled on this fabulous display of creativity at the Stringybark festival on the weekend. It’s called The Melbourne Reef and is a coral reef made entirely from crochet in a labour of love by crafty contributors such as these ladies who you can see here making bits of reef out of recycled plastic bags and wool.

There were two main bits of reef on display… this large one with a clown fish swimming around in it …

…and this other colourful creation.

There is of course a lot more to see at the main exhibition, which is at the Burrinja gallery at Upwey at the moment and is apparently all dark to resemble an underwater world (more info here although once the exhibition finishes on January 9, 2011, this link will probably be irrelevant)… I can’t wait to get to the gallery to check it out!

The project is actually a worldwide one but it’s the first time it’s been shown in Melbourne. It blends mathematics and craft because the patterns used to create the frilly-looking coral are based on hyperbolics… which basically means some formula that makes things 3D instead of 2D, like more recent animations (think Shrek as opposed to The Simpsons). The formula also maximises surface area in minimal space, if I understood the explanation by Melbourne coordinator Tracy Hayllar correctly (despite getting As for maths and science through most of high school, my grip on that sort of intelligent stuff is shaky at best).
I asked Tracy whether this project contributes proceeds to marine conservation but there are no proceeds unfortunately!! However, it does raise awareness of how special and beautiful our marine creatures are.
Here you can see a close up of the frilly coral – the ladies are crocheting it out of recycled cassette and video tapes!

If you want to know more about the project, you can read the Melbourne group’s blog, or for more information on hyperbolics and even links to the crochet patterns so you can make your own bit of marine magic (and contribute it to upcoming exhibitions), check out the site from The Institute for Figuring – it’s a fascinating site but there’s a lot to take in, so jump on when you are feeling a bit brainy. Tracy pointed out that you could also use the hyperbolic crochet patterns to make things like scarves, Elizabethan-era neck ruffs, etc, if coral reefs are not your thing. But I really wish I had a few spare weeks now so I could create my own underwater kingdom… I hope you’re as amazed and inspired as I am!