Crocheted Coral Reef: A Very Short Review

My mission: to see and photograph a sea anemone, crocheted by fellow BVC denizen Vonda N. McIntyre.  The Crocheted Coral Reef is currently on exhibit at the Smithsonian’s Natural History Musem in Washington DC.  How difficult can this be, I thought to myself — I had a clear description of the anemone.

Well!  Silly me — I might as well have volunteered to find one sea shell on the beach.  There are a million sea anemones on view at the Smithsonian, a display so stunning that I felt a powerful urge to go lie down afterwards!  All the pictures after the jump, to prevent system choking.

The crocheted reef can obviously be assembled and disassembled for shipping and display.  The basic substructure (styrofoam? foam core?) must be covered over with crocheted forms attached with double-stick tape.  (A coral fell down, thus allowing me to view the tape.)

This is the main reef, a gigantic structure. Some magnificent fan corals, executed in filet crochet, are visible.  The strippy things are made out of plastic binder tape!

The people who set up the reef have exercised a fine color sense.  In the bluish section a charming octopus is visible on the right, and you can see by my figure how big the thing actually is.

Over here is the pink-purple region.

Have a look at those jellyfish!

And an amazing large jelly, hung high.

White jellyfish floating above beaded corals. 

More magnificent beaded coral.

Finally, worn out, here I am resting in the Mammals exhibit beside a bronze chimpanzee.

Altogether an exhibit well worth seeing, almost unbearably glorious if you are into the needle arts!


Revise the WorldBrenda Clough posts her Very Short Reviews here on Mondays. Her novel Revise the World is available as an ebook in the Book View Cafe eBookstore.



About Brenda Clough

Brenda W. Clough spent much of her childhood overseas, courtesy of the U.S. government. Her first fantasy novel, The Crystal Crown, was published by DAW in 1984. She has also written The Dragon of Mishbil (1985), The Realm Beneath (1986), and The Name of the Sun (1988). Her children’s novel, An Impossumble Summer (1992), is set in her own house in Virginia, where she lives in a cottage at the edge of a forest. Her novel How Like a God, available from BVC, was published by Tor Books in 1997, and a sequel, Doors of Death and Life, was published in May 2000. Her latest novels from Book View Cafe include Revise the World (2009) and Speak to Our Desires. Her novel A Most Dangerous Woman is being serialized by Serial Box. Her novel The River Twice is newly available from BVC.


Crocheted Coral Reef: A Very Short Review — 3 Comments

  1. I think they should call these things “Textile Sculpture” or something like that. “Crochet” makes it sound . . . I don’t know . . . ordinary or everyday, and these aren’t.

  2. Brenda, thanks for the wonderful pictures. I’m not surprised you couldn’t find my bleached finger coral and marine flatworms or the beaded sea creatures in such an amazing riot of color and form.

    Steven, the formal title is “Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef” and I kind of suspect they figured if they added any more to it, people’s eyes would spin around in their heads.

    It’s a fairly simple basic technique: create a circle, then crochet on the circle in a spiral, increasing three for two or whatever increase creates a pleasing surface. After that, you make it up as you go along, and that’s where the artistic effort, creativity, and imagination come in.


  3. The links give (a) the mathematical basis for the entire project, and (b) the adaptation of the project to support coral reef preservation. Both goals are magnificiently visualized. To be able to touch and maniuplate a physical embodiment of an equation is amazing, far better than just looking at the quadratic equation itself. And, if a handful of humans with crochet hooks have created such a stunning structure in a few years, what must a real coral reef (which I have never seen) be like? We MUST preserve them.