The Celtic knot Saga . . .

Celtic knots fascinate me because they are impossible objects and the ultimate optical illusion. They are impossible because they portray a cord or rope tied in a knot without beginning or end. Sometimes a Celtic knot is viewed as a path or walkway. That makes them the ultimate optical illusion because there is no “over” or “under” on a flat sheet of paper!

Yes, Celtic knots fascinate me.

I wanted a way to make various Celtic knots in various sizes.

Various Celtic knots in various sizes
Various Celtic knots in various sizes

These Celtic knots are different from each other, and they are different sizes. Yet, they are formed from the same shapes: two shapes for the corners (one has a tail), one shape for the side curves, and one shape for the internal bars. I merely needed to make the specific shapes in a specific size for any given knot. It was all a matter of scale.

A Matter of Scale
A Matter of Scale

I enlarged knots to size; transferred their individual shapes to fabric; then, arranged the shapes onto my background. I left a bit of space between the shapes to represent the black lines seen in the original drawing. I called this my “Stencil” phase, because that’s what the knots looked like, as though they had been stenciled in place. For visual interest, I chose different colors for each path in a knot. Making each path a separate color helped the viewer better see the outlines of the paths and the relationships between them. I made Celtic knot bands, crosses, and circles.

Three-color Square
Three-color Square
Two-color Rectangle
Two-color Rectangle
Three-color Rectangle
Three-color Rectangle
Blue Three-color Cross
Blue Three-color Cross
Purple Cross
Purple Cross
Green Three-color Cross
Green Three-color Cross
Three-color Circular Celtic Knot
Three-color Circular Celtic Knot
Two-color Circular Celtic Knot
Two-color Circular Celtic Knot

I solved the problem of size, but I had a problem with alignment. Sometimes, the ends of the knot shapes didn’t exactly align with each other.

I had a little talk with myself.

“So, what seems to be the problem here?” I ask.
“The ends of the knot shapes don’t exactly align with each other.” (I point.)
“Why knot?” (I snicker.)
“I’m missing the little piece that joins the two shapes together.” (I point.)
“Where is it?”
“It’s hidden under where the other path crosses over this path.” (I point.)
“Um, er, aren’t you missing the obvious?”
“Just because I can’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t there?” (I point.)
“No, I made you say ‘underwear.’ (I snicker again.) “When’s lunch?”

(I stopped talking with myself at this point because I was obviously distracted.)

So, I decided to include the “missing” piece between all the shapes, all the way around the path. What I ended up with was a closed loop. I had to admit that tracing and cutting one closed loop was much faster and easier than tracing and cutting numerous shapes for that same loop. If I made each path of the knot a closed loop, I could weave them together like the impossible drawing I started with.

Sunday funnies 1-11-15 knot
Sunday funnies 1-11-15 knot
Loops A, B, C, and D
Loops A, B, C, and D

Unfortunately, you can’t weave a closed loop. (Try to recreate a Celtic knot with a rubber band without cutting it open.)

I decided to cheat. I chose a spot where one path went “under” another, and cut open the loop. Then, I had no trouble weaving the loops together from the bottom up, hiding the cut ends when necessary. It took very little time to create a very impressive Celtic knot.

That’s how Woven Celtic knots began . . .

(Your book starts here.)

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