Carolyn Yackel

“Plato's Hoedown”

Thread, Pearl Cotton, Styrofoam, Copper, 16" x 20", 2005.

The Japanese craft of Temari offers an excellent showcase for the duality of the Platonic solids. These decorative emboridered balls typically exhibit an extremely high degree of symmetry obtained by dividing the sphere into congruent regions. The most common designs arise from projections of the Platonic solids onto the sphere. Stitchers typically put one copy of a single motif on the face of each projected region and one copy of a different motif on each projected vertex. This naturally places dual Platonic solid pairs on single Temaris. Therefore, the three balls in the mobile exhibit all five Platonic solids.

“Plato's Hoedown (View 2)”

Carolyn Yackel, Associate Professor of Mathematics, Mercer University

"As I practice my crafts, the mathematician in me quietly watches, occasionally interrupting the activity to excitedly point out that a mathematical principle has just been demonstrated in an interesting way, that mathematics would be very helpful to sort out some confusion, or that I could actually use the technique in the service of mathematics. Happily the two sides of myself have learned to collaborate patiently. The result has been a number of physical objects prompting complex mathematical conversations among a variety of well educated people who would usually not dare to engage in a discussion of mathematics. These exchanges further open the door to introduce and discuss conceptual mathematics in an atmosphere that allows individuals to experience amazement, beauty, puzzlement, and understanding."