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Second Generation Sierpinski Tetrahedron VI -- Beaded Art Object Sculpture

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One of my signature pieces of beadwork, this large beaded bead is a study in the symmetry of a tetrahedron, a pyramid with a triangular base. It is composed of 4 medium sized tetrahedrons, each of which is composed of 4 tiny tetrahedrons, for a total of 16 tiny tetrahedrons. This particular arrangement is known as a second generation Sierpinski tetrahedron, named after Waclaw Sierpinski. Waclaw Sierpinski was a 20th century Polish mathematician who pioneered the field of fractal geometry; one of the two-dimensional fractals he described was the Sierpinski triangle. This fractal triangle was one of the first shapes understood to demonstrate self-similarity: the property that its shape at any level is the same as its shape at its largest level. The Sierpinski tetrahedron is a three-dimensional shape realizing the same concept.

The negative space between each tetrahedron forms a regular octahedron with eight triangular faces. You can align the beads to show a second generation Sierpinski triangle (fourth photo), and shadow can create a similar effect.

I wrote about this design in my "Three dimensional point groups and the symmetry of beaded beads" article published in the Journal of Mathematics and the Arts. A similar piece was featured on the cover, but the one for sale here is made with longer bugle beads, and hence is a larger finished piece. You can see that article here

I also built a 22 foot tall, third generation version of this sculpture (shown in the second photo) made with softballs and bats, which I showed at the Burning Man Art Festival 2008 and 2009. See more information about my Bat Country sculpture here: http://batcountry.liquid.net/index.php/Main_Page

The beads in this second generation version include beautiful matte metallic blue/green/golden bugle beads, metallic green and faceted mirrored glass. Signed with my custom designed sterling silver tag, this beaded art object is very light and a bit fragile. If you drop it on carpet, it should survive the fall unscathed, but if you compress it, the bugled beads can break because they are made from glass. It is not recommended for children. As a beaded bead, it has several holes that can be used to string or otherwise hang it.

Measuring 7.3 cm (almost 3 in.) on an edge, this piece is too large for jewelry, but it would make a nice hanging ornament or a paperweight for your desk to gaze at while you pause to try to decide what you will do next weekend with all of your free time.

All of my beadwork arrives in an origami gift box, hand folded by me out of beautiful printed card stock.

Second Generation Sierpinski Tetrahedron VI -- Beaded Art Object Sculpture


  • Handmade item
  • Materials: glass beads, fireline thread, sterling silver tag, inginuity, attention to detail, love
  • Ships worldwide from United States
  • Feedback: 956 reviews
  • Favorited by: 42 people