I learned about Ciro Najle when various science blogs started publishing information about his exhibit of crocheted cumulus clouds. I’ve wanted to write about his crochet work for awhile but I’ve held off. I’m a little embarrassed to say that the reason is because reading his site is academically a little straining. I consider myself a smart chick but this math-and-science rich approach to art and design is presented in a way that definitely isn’t easy reading. Still, the crochet work is cool and the projects are interesting so I finally took the time to dive in so I could share a little bit with you.
Ciro Najle has a very dense website with a lot of information about his work. He is an architect as well as a design critic who works in Buenos Aires. He has worked as a professor at multiple universities around the world, has headed leading design projects and has had his work exhibited in many venues. He is currently working on a book called Material Discipline. Crochet doesn’t make up the bulk of what he does but he’s done some very interesting work incorporating the medium because it’s a great tool for expressing mathematical concepts.
I first discovered Najle’s work in January when New Scientist wrote about his Paris exhibition of crocheted clouds (which had previously been exhibited in Colorado). The article explains:
“Lit from within and above, the swathes of crocheted white wool hang from the ceiling to just half a metre above the ground, casting familiar shadows on the gallery floor. The fluffy cashmilon wool chosen by the artist, Argentinean architect Ciro Najle, works well for cumulus clouds – the puffy ones that can precede thunder storms, and are precursors to the godfather of clouds, the cumulonimbus.”
There are many different types of cumulus clouds but they’re all based on mathematical fractals. Fractals can be recreated in crochet, which is why Najle got the idea to use crochet for this exhibit. There was a lot of math behind the work. New Scientist further explains:
“Translating this complexity into cloud art involved a serious amount of mathematics. The sculpture comprises crocheted squares, each of which has an individual pattern modelled by Najle, who generated 1664 different diagrams pinpointing the intersections of the woollen strands, the crochet knots that are key to its structure.”
I should add here that Najle didn’t do the crochet work himself; he just did the design. The work for his cumulus clouds exhibit was done by more than three dozen women crocheting in Argentina. They worked full time together for about a week to create the final product.
Paris installation via New Scientist
Although I learned about the project early this year, the crochet work was actually conceived several years ago. Najle was working in South America on a project to collect fog (basically a way to collect water in dry areas) and one of the things that they did during the multi-year project was create math-based fog nets using crochet to help with modeling.
Here’s an example of how Najle describes one of these pieces on his own site:
Other Similar Crochet Artists
Some of the other crochet artists whose work is rooted in mathematics are:
And because this net of clouds was placed on display in an interactive way, I also think of the crochet netscapes of:
Have you ever used mathematic principles in creating your crochet work?