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A beautifully illustrated book about the art, science, math, and environmentalism of the Crochet Coral Reef project.

Gorgeous, absurd, and socially productive, these are rare works of art.”
             --Christopher Knight, Los Angeles Times

Hooray for all the work, play, thought, and precious bodily fluids that went into making this ongoing art!
               --Donna Haraway, Science + Technology Studies Scholar, UC Santa Cruz

"The AIDS Quilt of global warming."
              -- Lawrence Weschler, New York Institute for the Humanities

In 2005 twin sisters Margaret and Christine Wertheim began to crochet a coral reef. Today more than 7000 people have joined them in creating this ever-growing woolly wonder. More than 25 Crochet Reefs have been made around the world - in New York, Chicago, London, Melbourne, Oslo, Arizona, Indiana, Ireland, Germany, Latvia and elsewhere. 

This vast handmade archipelago – resulting from more than 200,000 hours of human labor – is one of the most extensive community artworks ever. Collections of Crochet Reefs have been shown at major art galleries and science museums worldwide, including the Chicago Cultural Center, the Hayward Gallery (London),  Science Gallery (Dublin) and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History (Washington DC).

For years, Crochet Reef Contributors have been asking us for a book. Now at last we'll have an explanation of all the scientific, mathematical and environmental concepts inherent in the project available in one place, along with lots of photos. In this Kickstarter campaign we offer the chance to obtain a beautifully illustrated book that documents this extraordinary fusion of art, craft and science.

Margaret Wertheim in the Fohr Satellite Reef, Museum Kunst der Westkuste, Germany.
Margaret Wertheim in the Fohr Satellite Reef, Museum Kunst der Westkuste, Germany.

The book will celebrate ALL the people who have been involved in this collective aesthetic achievement. All 7000+ contributors to all the Crochet Reefs around the world will be named in a specially designed chapter that will constitute an artwork in itself. 

Your Kickstarter contribution of $55 or more assures you a signed, numbered, first edition. We plan to deliver books in October 2014. 

The book will be written by Margaret and Christine, with additional essays by an art critic, a science historian and others.

Want to see more: Watch Margaret's TED Talk. Now seen by over 500,000 people.

Giant crochet coral - a woolly fusion of craft and geometry.
Giant crochet coral - a woolly fusion of craft and geometry.

Why are we making a coral reef? Coral reefs the world over are dying out. Pollution, overfishing, tourism and now Global Warming are killing them off. Margaret and Christine grew up in Queensland, Australia, home state to the Great Barrier Reef. When they started their project they joked that if the GBR ever died off their crochet reef would be something to remember it by. In 2013 that joke is becoming a ghastly reality: If current trends continue reefs may soon stop growing altogether. All the CO2 we are pumping into our atmosphere not only warms the oceans but also makes them more acidic, which prevents corals from forming their bony structures. Scientists now talk about the Coke-a-Cola ocean. The decimation of coral reefs around the world is proof that climate change is real; it's here and now and destroying these critical marine environments. 

The Crochet Coral Reef project was conceived as a direct response to climate change. It has mobilized people all over the planet to respond to this crisis in a powerful, constructive and collaborative way. The book will spread the word about climate change in a format that is highly accessible, scientifically astute, and visually stunning. Margaret is an internationally award-winning science writer and brings to the project 30 years experience covering scientific topics. 

Why crochet is the mathematically necessary medium. All the frilly, crenellated forms seen in living reefs -- in corals, kelps, sponges and nudibranches -- are biological variations of hyperbolic geometry, an alternative to the Euclidean geometry we learn about in school. Though nature has been playing with these structures for millions of years, mathematicians spent hundreds of years trying to prove it was impossible. Sea-slugs effortlessly produce hyperbolic ruffles, yet it is notoriously difficult for humans to make models of this form. In 1997, Cornell mathematician Dr. Daina Taimina showed how it could be done with crochet and her models serve as important geometry-teaching tools. But nature never does anything mathematically perfect. By deviating from purely geometric models, the Wertheims and their community of crochet reefers have invented a vast taxonomy of crochet coral “species”. There is an ever-evolving crochet “tree of life.”

Parallel lines behave differently in Euclidean and hyperbolic space.
Parallel lines behave differently in Euclidean and hyperbolic space.
Crochet corals by moonlight.
Crochet corals by moonlight.

Who's involved? In addition to the crochet reefs the Wertheims have personally curated through their Institute For Figuring, more than 7000 people have contributed to more than 25 "Satellite Reefs" in more than 10 countries. These gorgeous woolly installations are unique works of community art, sometimes giant in scale. They are made by people from all walks of life. Among contributors to the project there have been scientists, mathematicians, teachers, students, mothers, professional crafters, computer programmers, housewives, university professors, and prison inmates. Just as living reefs are built by millions of tiny coral polyps working together, so too Crochet Reefs result from vast collective effort. 

Contributors constructing the Scottsdale Satellite Reef.
Contributors constructing the Scottsdale Satellite Reef.

Why a book? The Crochet Coral Reef project is a new kind of global artistic experiment. Reef exhibitions have been seen by more than three million people. Now we want to honor in print, and for the historical record, the work of everyone who has participated. The book will serve as a permanent record of all the Crochet Reefs worldwide and will frame this outstanding example of radical craft within the context of science and mathematics. 

We've taken the photos. The research has been done. The Orphiflamme Foundation has given us a grant to do the writing. We have found a wonderful young designer to work with and we're ready to go. 

Branched Anemone Garden (from the collection of Lisa Yun Lee).
Branched Anemone Garden (from the collection of Lisa Yun Lee).

Why Kickstarter? We have been approached by several mainstream publishers about doing a book, but the only way to have full artistic control over its look and content is to do it ourselves. From the start, the Crochet Coral Reef project has been a self-propelled, community driven enterprise. We want to do the book in the same spirit, and we ask for your collaboration in making this possible. We need your assistance to fund the printing and design. We have sourced a printer who can do a first-class job at an incredibly reasonable price and our designer knows how to get the very best quality for a modest budget. 

The first 1000 copies will be numbered and signed by Margaret and Christine. 

The Bleached Reef, a crochet invocation of coral bleaching.
The Bleached Reef, a crochet invocation of coral bleaching.

What we will do with the money what you get for your money. The funds raised from this campaign will be used to cover printing and the fee for hiring a designer.

-Everyone who gives $55 or more will get a signed and numbered, first edition. This includes postage within the USA.

-If you give $100 or more, you’ll also get your name in the book on our Donor page. 

-Those who give at a higher level will be credited on a Special Donors page. 

-Donors at the $200 level and above will also get a signed copy of the IFF's elegant little book A Field Guide to Hyperbolic Space. Written by Margaret, this provides a more in-depth look at hyperbolic geometry and Dr. Taimina's discovery of hyperbolic crochet. It contains how-to instructions for the basic crochet forms.

-Donors at the $1000 level and above will receive one of a Limited Edition set of crocheted hyperbolic models.

-Shipping is included in the price at all Reward levels. Because international postage for a book now costs $25, orders outside the US are $75. Please note that for the moment we are limiting international orders to 100 copies. If you live outside the USA, be sure to get in early. Once we reach our target of $27,000 we'll be able to release more for the international arena.

-We’ll put aside the first 300 numbered copies for Donors. Those who give at higher levels are guaranteed a low-number copy, which book collectors value.

Crochet sea creatures by Ildiko Szabo (L and R) and Helen Bernasconi (Middle).
Crochet sea creatures by Ildiko Szabo (L and R) and Helen Bernasconi (Middle).

Who are we? The Crochet Coral Reef is a project of the Institute For Figuring, a Los Angeles based non-profit, founded by Margaret and Christine Wertheim, that is dedicated to enhancing public engagement with science and mathematics by looking at the poetic and aesthetic aspects of these fields. Visit www.crochetcoralreef.org and www.theiff.org for more information.

Margaret Wertheim is an award winning science writer and author of books on the cultural history of physics, including the widely acclaimed The Pearly Gates of Cyberspace: A History of Space from Dante to the Internet. She is Director of the Institute For Figuring and has lectured all over the world about the Crochet Coral Reef. In 2009 she gave a TED Talk about the project.

Christine Wertheim is a poet, critic, performer and curator, who teaches in the Department of Critical Studies at the California Institute of the Arts (Calarts). A former painter, she is the author of the poetic anthology +|'me'S-pace and the forthcoming book of visual poetics mUtter bAbel. Christine is also the editor of several volumes of experimental writing including Feminaissance.

Ask us a Question. If there is anything else you’d like to know please email us at mail@theiff.org.

Giant Coral Forest at Art Center College of Design, Williamson Gallery.
Giant Coral Forest at Art Center College of Design, Williamson Gallery.

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

The Institute For Figuring has published several books in black and white, but this will be our first color book. Color printing is a Big Deal and you need to know what you’re doing. That’s why we’ve enlisted a designer who really knows this stuff, someone who has designed gorgeous books for artists and museums across the USA and has worked extensively with the printer we’ll be using. So we know we can realize a fantastic book for this budget. We think you'll be amazed at how good it will look. At the IFF, we plan to devote ourselves exclusively to this project from January through March 2014. Then we'll be working with the designer to see it through the final stages of the design process. The book will go to the printer in May 2014. It will be sent to us to ship by the end of September, so you will get your copies in October 2014. We will keep you posted with monthly updates about our progress.

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    HYPERBOLIC DONOR: You get a numbered first edition copy, signed by Margaret and Christine. Plus we'll list your name in the book on the SPECIAL DONORS PAGE under the Hyperbolic category. Plus a signed copy of our book "A Field Guide to Hyperbolic Space". SHIPPING INCLUDED ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD.

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    LOBACHEVSKIAN DONOR: You get a numbered first edition copy, signed by Margaret and Christine. Plus we'll list your name in the book on the SPECIAL DONORS PAGE under the Lobachevskian category. You are guaranteed to get one of the first 20 numbered books, plus an additional copy. Plus a signed copy of our book "A Field Guide to Hyperbolic Space". Plus one of a Limited Edition set of crochet hyperbolic models. SHIPPING INCLUDED ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD.

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