Category Archives: Art

Number Systems Plotter Art

Arjan van der Meij recently got an AxiDraw and has been exploring binary and ternary numbers as a plotting subject. It has been fascinating to watch his iterations on twitter and instagram. One of his earliest posts represented eight bit binary numbers as rotated squares.

He started a plot of twelve bit binary circles, but didn’t complete it due to lack of clarity. It is not too often that you get to see this type of artistic decision making in progress– many artists only post the “keepers.”

Speaking of keepers, this one involving six bit binary crossed lines was liked well enough to be replotted on notebook cover. In a further exploration of this style, he also made a 1024 grid of ten bit binary crossed lines.

This post of eight bit binary triangles explored order as well as form with a sequenced as well as a shuffled version. Nested binary shapes, like these triangles and six bit binary hexagons seem to have provoked a jump to a slightly different plotter format: laser cutter.

Some of the forms tried in wood were binary squares, eight bit binary triangles, and the seven bit binary hexagons shown above.

The jump to wood gives rise to a form that seems a bit like a jigsaw puzzle, especially when you see the individual pieces before they’ve been arranged for display.

He explores rounded shapes his series of binary flowers, including six bit binary flowers, ten bit binary flowers, and eight bit binary flowers made of ellipses.

Moving beyond binary, ternary digits have three possible values. I found the nested ternary rectangles/squares and ternary elipses (above) to be straightforward to decipher. Another method explored includes line segments, either straight or with indents or protrusions to express the values as in these ternary squares, ternary hexagon/star/circle, and ternary triangles. Other shapes are harder to describe, like folded ternary hexagons, or ternary squares with their segments folded inwards or outwards in triangles.

It is fun to compare how different number systems can be visualized using similar structures. The eight bit binary “stick figures” are not dissimilar from these six trit ternary arcs on a sticks: bits are displayed on both halves of the figure, whereas the trits are shown inline. Similarly, this set of ternary flowers bring to mind some of the the binary flowers mentioned before but have a different character for carrying more information.

One interesting diversion from the geometric forms he pursued was the text of binary numbers plotted in sequence, creating geometric patterns in the repetition of the letters. He has continued exploring various ways of visualizing and arranging numeric representations, and I’ll look forward to his continued works. If you’ve enjoyed these tastes of what he’s doing, he also posts timelapses and short videos of the process, and is making his plots available for sale on his website.


If you liked this post and have other plotter artists you’d like us to feature, please comment below or drop us a line!

Names Dress

The Names Dress is a compostable 3D printed conceptual art piece celebrating women in STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Art and Math) by Sylvia Heisel. It will be on display at Museo Salvatore Ferragamo’s Sustainable Thinking exhibition in Florence, Italy through March 8, 2020.

While there are increasing numbers of women embarking on careers in STEAM (including inventors, mathematicians, scientists, artists using technology and others), the achievements of women in these fields are not always widely known or celebrated. The Names Dress is a tribute to women, known and unknown, historic and contemporary, in these interconnected and evolving fields. The Dress is also an exploration of the use of sustainable materials and techniques in creating innovative textiles and garments.

The Names Dress website includes a list of the women named, along with biographic information and links to their work. As a starting place for learning about women in STEAM, it is a thought-provoking resource. I’m honored to have my name included on the dress.

Math foods for Pi Day

There are a great many ways to celebrate Pi Day, and food is one of our favorites. While pie is obviously appropriate for Pi Day, there are so many other fun ways to explore math and science through cooking. Here are some of our food projects that can be great ways to explore math concepts on Pi Day:

Happy Pi Day!

Stroboscopic Ornaments

Jiří Zemánek, whose EggBot work we have featured before, sent in this wonderful video of stroboscopically animated Christmas ornaments.

The stroboscopic patterns are designed in MATLAB and drawn by EggBot Pro on colored glass Christmas ornaments. Motion of the balls is controlled by custom mechanism built using components from two Prusa i3 MK3 3D printers, like six stepper motors and two Rambo boards. On top of designing the patterns, which is Jiri’s hobby (when he is not busy with research) and building the whole contraption in a very short time, the team had to deal with issues including non-spherical ornaments, or how to use Rambo board to precisely control the velocity profiles.

We love to see how people make things, and Jiri did not disappoint, sharing process photos of making the rotation mechanisms.

With great help from his colleagues Martin, Krištof, and Filip they took Christmas ornaments to the next level and taught them to dance!

The final setup shot captures how they created such a beautiful video.

Merry Christmas to Jiri and the Advanced Algorithms for Control and Communications group! Thank you for sharing your project!

PCB Etching with AxiDraw

Patricio Gonzalez Vivo has been using AxiDraw for circuit board etching experiments.

He draws on copper clad boards with a Sharpie marker with the AxiDraw.

Drawing is followed by a chemical bath.

The marker is cleaned off of the remaining copper to reveal the design. It came out beautifully.

If you’ve used the AxiDraw for marker masking for etching, we’d love to hear about it!

AxiDraw Pantograph

Mike Jacobs added a pantograph to his AxiDraw to multiply its size range.

Not content with that, he doubled it.

Bigger!!! I extended the extension—now it’s a double pantograph!! The #axidraw #plotter draws ~8.5×12” out of the box. My pantograph increases that to 45×58”. The precision has gone hell and there’s some warping—

Continuing the saga,

Increasing unpredictability! I added a swiveling mini roller. Now I really have no clue what a finished piece will look like, and there’s a good chance that no two pieces will look alike.

It is always exciting to see what creative things people do with an AxiDraw!

Invisible Ink with AxiDraw

Joanie LeMercier has been working on a project using invisible ink and different lighting schemes with the AxiDraw. He has posted a bunch of clips and pictures in his twitter stream with the heading “Invisible drawing.”

Head over to the thread where you can see more progress shots as well as completed drawings.