Monkey Wrenches and Snail’s Trails

Two patchwork blocks, Monkey Wrench and Snail’s Trail, share a construction method that alternates between the two.

Both begin with a 4-patch block:

4-patch block

A square cut diagonally produces two half-square triangles. Sew four half-square triangles to the sides of the 4-patch block. The 4-patch block rotates and stands on-point. This block is called Monkey Wrench:

Monkey Wrench
Monkey Wrench

Sew a round of half-square triangles to the sides of the Monkey Wrench block. The 4-patch block rotates and sits flat. This block is called Snail’s Trail:

Snail's Trail
Snail’s Trail

Sew a round of half-square triangles to the sides of the Snail’s Trail block and produce another Monkey Wrench block:

Monkey Wrench, level two
Monkey Wrench, level two

Sew a round of half-square triangles to the sides of the Monkey Wrench block and produce another Snail’s Trail block:

Snail's Trail, level two
Snail’s Trail, level two

The two blocks can build on each other indefinitely. They are limited only by the size of the initial 4-patch block (each round of half-square triangles requires a smaller 4-patch block than the block before).

Monkey Wrench, level three
Monkey Wrench, level three
Snail's Trail, level three
Snail’s Trail, level three
Monkey Wrench, level four
Monkey Wrench, level four
Snail's Trail, level four
Snail’s Trail, level four

Notice anything? For each round of half-square triangles, the arms spiral further inward.

When four of these blocks rotate around one corner they produce unique blocks that appear organic when placed next to each other.

Metamorphosis (alternating columns of Monkey Wrench and Snail's Trail blocks)
Metamorphosis (alternating columns of Monkey Wrench and Snail’s Trail blocks)

When four half-size blocks are superimposed on a full-size block, an interesting thing happens. The resulting blocks can be displayed three different ways: as a half-size pattern only; as a full-size pattern only; or as a combination of the two, with the smaller motif centered on the larger one (I omitted the smaller motif that centers where the larger ones come together).

Two scales, three patterns
Two scales, three patterns

I will do more with this . . .

Playing with light, part two

Consider a second pyramid.

Second pyramid
Second pyramid

There are twelve shadings of this pyramid.

Shading Thirteen
Shading Thirteen

Shading Fourteen
Shading Fourteen

Shading Fifteen
Shading Fifteen

Shading Sixteen
Shading Sixteen

Shading Seventeen
Shading Seventeen

Shading Eighteen
Shading Eighteen

Shading Nineteen
Shading Nineteen

Shading Twenty
Shading Twenty

Shading Twenty-one
Shading Twenty-one

Shading Twenty-two
Shading Twenty-two

Shading Twenty-three
Shading Twenty-three

Shading Twenty-four
Shading Twenty-four

Consider combining the two pyramids in a single square.

Two Pyramids
Two Pyramids

If there are twelve ways to shade each of these pyramids, there are 144 different ways to shade them both.

Playing with light, part one

Imagine a triangle drawn within a square.

1st triangle
Triangle-in-square

Now, group four squares into a block.

Triangle-in-square block
Triangle-in-square block

Not very exciting, is it?

Now add three converging lines to the interior of the triangle. The flat triangle becomes a three-sided pyramid.

Pyramid-in-square block
Pyramid-in-square block

Now, let’s play with the light.

This pattern of pyramids implies a light source that shines on all faces at once.

Pyramid plane
Pyramid plane

If we imagine lowering the light source, then only one face at a time is lit, casting the other two faces in shadow. When the light source hits a face full on, the other two faces are in complete shadow. When the light source hits a face toward one end or the other, the neighboring face is in partial shadow, and the third face is in complete shadow. When the light source hits two faces at once, the third face is in complete shadow.

There are twelve different shadings for this one pyramid.

Twelve o'clock shadows
Shading One

Shading Two
Shading Two

Shading Three
Shading Three

Shading Four
Shading Four

Shading Five
Shading Five

Shading Six
Shading Six

Shading Seven
Shading Seven

Shading Eight
Shading Eight

Shading Nine
Shading Nine

Shading Ten
Shading Ten

Shading Eleven
Shading Eleven

Shading Twelve
Shading Twelve

Let’s Weave a Celtic Knot! Found knots

I found a Celtic knot in a coloring book.

I copied and enlarged it to fit a sheet of paper. There are two cords in this knot. I made five copies and cut out the outlines of the cords.

Cord outlines
Cord outlines

Cord outlines
Cord outlines

I glued the lighter outlines to the darker outlines. For one outline, I put a spot of glue at the spot where the outline is under the other one. For the other outline, I cut open the spaces where the outline is under the other one.

Glued or cut cord outlines
Glued or cut cord outlines

I used the fifth copy as a placement guide. I positioned one outline on the guide, then put the other on top of it, gluing the two outlines together.

Glued outlines
Glued outlines

Slide the cut ends under the other outline, and the knot is complete.

Complete knot
Complete knot