This project made possible by funding from The West Oxford Agricultural Society ~ presenter of The Fryeburg Fair

Monday, May 30, 2011

Maine Crochet Reef Progress Report

  • The Maine Department of Education has a website designed for Art Educators. They recently posted an entry about The Maine Reef Project.
  • Harrisville Designs in Harrisville, NH donated some of their wonderful 100% Wool yarns which will be used to crochet elements needed to create the Reef. Visit them by clicking on our link to their website.
  • University of New England is excited about participating in our project as a way to help merge their science and art programs.We will be meeting with them in the coming weeks as they formulate plan that suits their interests and needs.
  • Our first outings to promote the project by sharing information about the Maine Reef and crochet demonstrations are upcoming:
    - Thursday 3-6pm, at the Biddeford Farmer's Market held at 100 main St., In the former Pepperell     Mill Parking Lot.
    -  Saturday night 5 - 9pm in the art area of  theMaine mall called The Creative Common, at Center Court. We will share information about the Maine Reef project and demonstrate hyperbolic crochet. 

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Hyperbolic Crochet Reef Project - An article provided by the IFF

The Ladies Silurian Atoll (detail).
Photo © The Institute For Figuring (by Alyssa Gorelick) 

One of the acknowledged wonders of the natural world, the Great Barrier Reef stretches along the coast of Queensland, Australia, in riotous profusion of color and form unparalleled on our planet. But global warming and pollutants so threaten this fragile marvel it now faces devastation, along with reefs around the world. In homage to these disappearing treasures, Christine and Margaret Wertheim of the Institute For Figuring instigated a project to crochet a handmade reef, a woolly testimony that also celebrates a strange geometry realized throughout the oceanic realm.

In coral reefs we witness an endless whimsical diversity--loopy kelps, fringed anemones, crenellated corals, curlicued sponges. All these forms are variations of a mathematical structure known as hyperbolic space. Though mathematicians had long believed this space was impossible, nature has been playing with its permutations for hundreds of millions of years. In 1997, Dr Daina Taimina of Cornell University realized how to make models of this geometry using the art of crochet. Building on Dr Taimina’s techniques through elaborations of her original code, the Wertheim sisters have spent the past five years developing an ever-evolving taxonomy of reef-life forms. Just as the diversity of living species results from variations in an underlying DNA code, so too a huge range of hyperbolic crochet ‘species’ may be brought into being through modifications in the underlying crochet code. There is an ever-evolving crochet ‘tree of life.’
The Crochet Reef is quintessentially a communal project and the community of Reef Contributors now spans the globe with participants coming from across the USA, as well as Australia, England, Ireland, Latvia, South Africa and Japan. Taken as a totality, the project has become an unexpected evolutionary experiment that engages thousands of people around the world.

Texts and diagrams © Institute For Figuring

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Maine Crochet Reef Demonstration at The Maine Mall

The Maine Reef's official public appearance has been scheduled!

Saturday evening June 4th from 5-9pm join Gale Bellew and Ann Thompson at the Maine Craft Association’s new retail shop, THE CREATIVE COMMON in the newly designated “creative center” at the Maine Mall in South Portland as they share information about this exciting Maine Fiber Art project. Anyone wishing to learn more about the project, see samples of hyperbolic crochet reef elements or try their hand at crochet is invited to come by.

Donations of yarn for this project will be accepted during the crochet demonstration hours of 5pm – 9pm on June 4th.

Ms. Bellew is the superintendent of the Fiber Center at Fryeburg Fair and Maine Reef project organizer. She will be managing the installation of The Maine Reef to be debuted at the Fiber Center during Fryeburg Fair week 2012. Ann Thompson is the Southern Maine Regional Coordinator for the Maine Craft Association and assisting with the reef project.
Everyone is invited to participate in helping create the Maine Crochet Reef.  Come to the Mall demonstration and see what it's all about!

Friday, May 20, 2011

And so you ask - What does Maine have to do with coral reefs?

Oceans around the world are being affected by our increase in CO2 emissions. These emissions increase the acidity of our ocean waters. Among many things, an important piece of the crochet reef project is to help raise awareness of the affects these increases are having and will continue to have on our ocean waters and it's many creatures.

But we don't have coral or coral reefs anywhere near Maine you say..... 
Ahhhh... but we do little grasshopper! But that's not all..... Read on.

Apparently, only one cold water coral species can form reefs, but there are other corals that inhabit our nearby cold waters. In fact, Canada, has established the Northeast Channel Coral Conservation Area where they have been studying maritime corals since the late 1990's off of the coast of Nova Scotia. I have always thought the cold waters off of the Maine coast to be dark, dreary and colorless. Not so! I was amazed to see the photos of colorful pink corals in photos in above mentioned links!

Maine's coastal heritage and economic bounty from our oceans via the seafood industry will not be left behind in the affects of our oceans acidity. In addition to coral, shellfish of all kinds are affected by increased acidity in our oceans in the same way. The economic impact in future generations will be significant according to Maine ocean scientists.

Robert Steneck, a professor at the School of Marine Sciences at the University of Maine says, "The problem is in our backyard."......and, "The acidity caused when carbon dioxide and water combine to make carbonic acid reduces the availability of calcium carbonate, or limestone, in the sea. Coral reefs are made of limestone, and lobsters, sea urchins, clams and scallops need it to calcify the hard parts of their bodies. Pteropods, a small, swimming organism with shells inside their bodies, are a major food source for Atlantic salmon. Yet, Steneck says, there is evidence that their shells, which the organisms can’t live without, are already eroding."

Proving this claim is professor of Marine Sciences at St. Joseph's College, Dr. Mark Green,  who has been globally recognized for his research on the affects of acidification on juvenile clams. He has scientifically proven that the increased acidification indeed causes a reduction of calcium carbonate without which, juvenile clams can not grow healthy shells and ultimately die off. You can read more about his findings by going to the link on our home page.

Maine’s participation in the Crochet Coral Reef project goes beyond the creation of a Satellite reef. This project not only offers an opportunity for the Maine community to crochet and create an amazing artistic fiber art display, but doing so, will also help raise awareness of the fragility and importance of the human affect on our oceans and potentially Maine’s economy as it relates to the shellfish industry and our food supply.

Whether you are a fiber artist, craftsman, crocheter, mathematician, scientist, conservationist, or anyone else that this projects might inspire, I hope you will join us in supporting this fabulous project in a way that speaks to your heart......

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Maine to Create a Coral Reef with the help of Fryeburg Fair

The West Oxford Agricultural Society, presenter of the Fryeburg Fair, has recently partnered with the Institute For Figuring to participate in their internationally known Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef project.

Gale Bellew, Fryeburg’s Fiber Center superintendent will be organizing a statewide effort to create a Satellite of this worldwide Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef project created by Margaret & Christine Wertheim of The Institute For Figuring, Los Angeles which will be shown at The Fiber Center during the 2012 Fryeburg Fair. Everyone is invited to participate.

With thanks to the West Oxford Agricultural Society and their support to the Fiber Arts, Maine will be joining Africa, Australia, The UK, Ireland, and Latvia. In the US, Arizona, Chicago, Gainesville, Indiana, New York and most recently, the Smithsonian whose six month exhibition just ended on April 24th of this year. 

Learn how you can join the efforts for creating this fabulous project on this site!

We hope that the Maine Reef will inspire you all in some way.....