Here’s my latest kaleidocycle!

The book “A Mathematical Tapestry” by Peter Hilton and Jean Pedersen has a discussion of the various rotating rings (kaleidocycles) of polyhedra that are possible, including a diagram of one made of 14 hexacaidecadeltahedra – better known as gyroelongated square bipyramids. It was such an intriguing shape I decided to try and construct one from bugle beads. The finished ring is fascinating – in one configuration it’s rigid but in others it’s completely flexible with many degrees of freedom.

It also makes a great bracelet as it will flex enough to fit over your hand but can then be rotated into the rigid configuration to stay on your wrist!

I made the original version with 12mm beads (Matsuno size 5 twisted bugle in Silver-Lined Bronze), but it works with other sizes. The one above is made with 9mm beads (Toho size 3 bugle in Silver-Lined Teal, Opaque Turquoise and Opaque Jet). The bugles just need to be large enough for several thread passes! I use 0.25mm monofilament nylon illusion cord as the thread, which is strong enough not to be damaged by the bugles but thin enough to allow enough passes through each bead.

I did briefly try making a peyote version using triangles (in this case the units are Eva Mari Keiser’s “gyro-eggs”), but unfortunatly it didn’t work very well as the shapes lose their defining sharp geometric shape.

So what is a Gyroelongated Square Bipyramid? It’s two square pyramids (the square bipyramid part) connected with a strip of 8 triangles formed into a ring (the gyroelongated part). Here’s a square pyramid and a square bipyramid (aka an octahedron):

Here’s a strip of 8 triangles which can be made into a ring to make a square antiprism:

Put this in the middle of the square bipyramid (octahedron) and you get a gyroelongated square bipyramid:

It’s an interesting shape! The two pyramids are at angles to each other and you can find pentagons made from 5 triangles at almost every corner.

They can put together into a kaleidocycle by using evenly spaced bugle beads from the middle (the gold ones in the photo above) as shared hinges. These hinges will be at an angle to each other if you look at the shape from the side, rather than parallel. Turns out that this is the critical feature for getting a kaleidocycle to work, and it’s why you end up with sets of mirror polyhedra in a complete cycle.

Below is a tutorial on how to make a four-colour version of this kaleidocycle! Please be careful with it though – remember that it’s made from fragile glass beads which may have sharp edges, so should be treated with care!