Archive for September 23rd, 2009

DIY Beanbags, or Tiling a Sphere

September 23, 2009

As an avid juggler, I have a rather large supply of props to juggle, most of which are balls or beanbags.  (Also on the shelves: clubs, rings, scarves, devil sticks, and a diabolo.)  As anyone who’s ever bought juggling equipment can tell you, this stuff isn’t cheap: decent beanbags can run $10-15 apiece, and rings and clubs are much more expensive.  So when I discovered these instructions to make your own beanbags, I was understandably excited.  (Of course, I’ll have to ask Batwoman to sew the pieces together for me.  Needles have a tendency to end up stuck in me instead of the fabric.)

Then I started clicking around the IJDb, and I found these.  Marylis Ramos has clearly spent a lot of time thinking about tiling a sphere.  Certainly any Platonic or Archimedean solid can be adapted to a sewing pattern to approximate a sphere, but a great deal of experimentation among jugglers and sewers has led to only a few becoming popular: the tetrahedron, cube, dodecahedron, icosahedron (one of the best, but really hard to sew), truncated tetrahedron, cuboctahedron, and the “lemon” (with 3, 4, 5, 6, or 8 panels).

spherical tetrahedronspherical cubespherical dodecahedron

spherical icosahedronspherical truncated tetrahedronspherical cuboctahedron

The pictures are, of course, idealized beanbags with perfect 1-dimensional seams that cannot be achieved by terrestrial sewing machines (at least not the Singer in my basement).  Or maybe they’re just from Wikipedia’s spherical polyhedron page.

I’ll be making some 4-panel lemons, and I’ll post a follow-up to discuss their sphericity (or lack thereof).