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I am fascinated by men’s silk ties.  Unfortunately, the number of men wearing ties continues to decline . .  . however, there are still some men out there wearing ties and I salute each and every one of them.  On more than one occasion I’ve asked a complete stranger if I could take a closer look at his tie.  I’ve even photographed a few.  Hey, when this gal’s on a layover in an airport, I start watching people and have sought out many of them to study what they were wearing.  Okay, I admit it . . . I’m a textile and fashion stalker!  I suppose this means naked people hold less fascination for me compared with the folks garbed in a unique textile.

What do I find so fascinating about men’s ties? (No, not the ones from the leisure suit era).  Many of them are exceptional works of art.  First, the silk fabric is often of the highest quality and the hand-sewn craftsmanship is inspiring . . . but, better than that are the designs that go into the weaving of the fabric, the print design on the fabric, or both.

The design complexity of a man’s tie should be appreciated since many of the design elements are layered producing subtle patterns of distinction.  The actual pattern itself may be elusive because of its scale, complexity, or both . . . which means one must take a little time using good light to appreciate some of these works of art.

Yes, men’s ties are some of my favorite things to play around with . . . however, that’s not what this latest “favorite things” is about.  What sparked my desire to rave about men’s silk ties and how inspiring they can be is the fact that many are excellent examples of a tessellation.

A tessellation is the repetition of a geometric shape with no overlaps and no gaps.  Escher was a master of designing tessellations as evidenced by a couple of examples of his work below.

The first example of an Escher tessellation shows the repeat of the fish pattern shown in the lower right hand corner.

Escher fish tesselation

The next two show different images . . . the first is the seahorse tessellation . . . followed by the Pegasus tessellation

Escher's seahorse tesselations

Escher Pegasus tesselation

The repeat of a geometric shape may also be observed in men’s ties



Fat cat spirals


Devils . . . One thing I love about this tie is that the devils are naked.  Thousands of people could look at this tie and only see some sort of yellow and red pattern and completely miss how provocative it is.  Art work in men’s ties takes a lot of artistic license.


Web-based Resources 

If you’re interested in learning more about tessellations, there are a number of resources available on-line you may enjoy using.  Below are my favorite four web-based tessellation generation websites.

http://www.Tessellations.org – This website has some wonderful examples of tessellations.  Best of all, there are a dozen lessons on how to make your own tessellations.  The image below shows the first four steps of the paper cut technique.

First 4 steps to making a tessellation

http://gwydir.demon.co.uk/jo/tess/index.htm – This website has some fun tools to use to create your own tessellations . . . but, I warn you . . . there is one area showing optical illusions using tessellations and it can make one a little dizzy to look at them.

Tessellations website

http://www.pbs.org/parents/education/math/games/first-second-grade/tessellation/ – The PBS website has a tool for showing how a tessellation can be developed.  It’s really designed for children . . . but, I have absolutely no problem getting in touch with my inner child.

PBS tessellation tool

http://www.shodor.org/interactivate/activities/Tessellate/ – This is another fun tool for designing simple tessellations.  Below is a tessellation I developed with a couple of mouse clicks.


Now, you may be asking how tessellations fit into weaving.  Well, did you know that many of our patterns are tessellations?  The most common are perhaps the pinwheel color-and-weave effect and houndstooth twills.  Below are a few weaving drafts to get you started.

4-shaft pinwheel

4-shaft Pinwheel

8-shaft pinwheel

8-shaft Pinwheel


Houndstooth draft

Tessellations are every where . . . so keep an eye out for them.  And, if you end up leaving a man completely and totally bewildered why you found his tie so intriguing, you have my permission to blame me.


Comments on: "These are a few of my favorite things: #24 – Tessellations" (7)

  1. what a great post Robyn. Thanks!

  2. Thanks Robyn – really enjoyed your post. May even use a pinwheel or houndstooth twill for the napkins I need to weave for exchange with Alberta Guild in June at ANWG in Bellingham.

    • loomchick said:

      Thank you. I’m glad you enjoyed the post on tessellations. If you weave something, I’d love to see it.

  3. Nancy C. said:

    Robyn, did you see that this past week’s Project Runway had a dress with tesselations and use of scale? The judges even mentioned the term in their descriptions. I had not heard the word before, and now I’m hearing it everywhere! Thanks for sharing more about this great use of design.

    • loomchick said:

      I haven’t seen the latest episode of Project Runway, but now I’ll have to make a point to see it. Thanks for letting me know, Nancy!

  4. Nancy Hedberg said:

    Hi Robin! Love your sharing of people/fashion/textile watching. I surreptiously do it too (oh, gosh, I can’t spell anymore!) Jennifer Moore’s class at MLH was a lovely intro to tesselations. I have a Xapotec rug at the cottage with fish and gulls (if I remember correctly). Will take a photo and send it next time I’m there. I will definitely see you at MLH this summer, and, maybe even Midwest…. Hugs!

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