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January 2020

Phase 2: Design

2.1 Building Blocks

Objective: Integrate findings from Phase 1 into a cohesive concept for passive seaweed growth.

The model created in section 1.3 demonstrates the features of the basic bobbin lace weave model.

IMG_5701 traced.png

Weaving direction


Top & bottom rows: Strands are secured at regular intervals (rigid piece not necessary)

Weave area: can cover any area subdivided into a quadrilateral grid

Weave edge: Strands twist together and form a clean edge

Excess rope length stored in knot chains (end-side only)


A note-able feature of this model is that it is both at both start and end side it is tied around a rigid rod. One of the stated goals of this project is to have the structure as much as possible made entirely from rope. This non-rope element can be replaced with a woven rope element, eliminating the need for another material.


Rigid geometry

Rope path

Knot chain

I found knot-tying to be extremely useful for creating creating interwoven fastening features. In this instance, a single snake knot (with inserted thimble to hold loop open) accomplishes the same function of providing a secure hold and regular spacing to the strands, while remaining an entirely-rope component.

Single snake knot.jpg
snake knot chain.jpg
IMG_6116 copy.jpg

Non-Rectilinear Areas

I'm finding that while rectangular grids are necessary to use the bobbin lace pattern, there is no need for the overall structure to be rectangular.  A quadrilateral (UV) grid can be applied to any surface shape via subdividing, and a polar radial grid also uses quadrilateral cells, allowing for circular configurations. Because I've set up the digital model to accept skewed quadrilateral meshes as grids, we can visualize what non-square configurations would look like.

square chess.png
triangle chess.png
circle chess.png
Triangle dedploying.gif

Circular Model

There are several apparent advantages to a circular configuration model.

  • A circular model would have the same sloping geometry from every angle, reducing drag on the structure equally from all lateral directions.

  • This radial symmetry also means there are no "sides" on this model, and therefore no lateral weave edges.

  • By anchoring the outer ring and applying floatation features to the inner ring, the entire footprint of the structure functions both as a growing surface for seaweed and also as a protected inner area that wildlife seek for shelter.

  • The inner circle is a loop in relative tension, making that element prime for ropefication. 

Round rotating (large).gif
ocean force graphic.png
internal area.png

Fabrication process:

The pattern I used as the blueprint for this model was take from the digital model above. The blueprint lines were transferred onto wood, then the intersections were used as locations for the nails to weave around. I 3d printed small inserts to fit inside the loops to help hold their shape during the weaving process.

Aquarium model plan.png
snake knot chain.jpg
IMG_5771 copy.jpg
circular untied.jpg
Circular Woven.jpg
IMG_5783 copy.jpg
Round Prototype Timeplapse.gif
side view.jpg

Closing Notes:

While the pattern blueprint of the circular model was more complicated than a rectangular grid model, the weaving process for the radial model was identical to the basic square bobbin lace stitch, and requires no additional tooling to create. To bring this circular configuration model to life and better demonstrate my vision for the concept in action, in section 2.2 I will create a living display of this structure in a miniature aquarium.

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