Today, thanks to The Adventures of Penrose the Mathematical Cat, we took a closer look at tessellations as math and as art.  M.C. Escher was a world-renowned graphic artist who was Dutch-born but did much of his work in Rome.  (M.C. stands for Maurits Cornelis, by the way).  Mr. Escher was fascinated with impossible spaces and the division of planes in unique ways.  He was fond of using tessellations in his art.  If you have never seen any of his symmetry work, you should take a gander!  He certainly saw things differently.

We started with the lesson in Penrose the Mathematical Cat on tessellations and then tried our hand at making our own tessellations by warping rectangles, cutting them out and then arranging them into a design. Penrose gives a short and easy description of how to do this.  Then we moved to a website about M.C. Escher and spent some time looking at his amazing art!  By all means, go to his official website (Mr. Escher died in 1972, but his foundation maintains a website of his work) at: 


His works of symmetry can be viewed by clicking ‘Picture Gallery’ and then ‘Symmetry’.

While searching for more information on tessellations we ran into this very fun website; it’s a treat for the eyes and you can download several Java applets to fool around with various designs (yes, long address, isn’t it?)  The shortened version or home page is www.bugman123.com – from there you can click on “Math Artwork”.


And finally, we happened to have a tessellation puzzle of bugs, so worked with that for a while at the kitchen table.  Max was better at fitting the pieces into clumps; I could only seem to get them into a long line.  He is definitely more spatially oriented than I am.  I would not have made for a very good dentist!  The Busy Beetle puzzle can be found here:

Here are some other fun tidbits that are tessellation-related:

A coloring book.



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