FOTSN introduces… Heptagrin Girl

On 22nd May 2012, I spent the evening at the Bloomsbury Theatre enjoying the comedy delights of Festival of the Spoken Nerd. The night was called “pi-curious” and proved to anyone in the audience, if they didn’t already know it, that a) science and maths can be fun, 2) nerd humour is superior to ordinary humour, 3) Matt Parker can probably create graphs of data which support that hypothesis, and 4) FOTSN really do know how to put on a big show these days. As we took our seats before the show started, I noticed a woman on the front row was wearing a gorgeous satin dress with a multicoloured skirt. I vowed to compliment her on it if I saw her in the foyer at the interval. Little did I know that the entire room would get to have a better look at her dress later in the evening.

Before the interval, Matt Parker asked us to solve a puzzle. Could we come up with a way to cut a pizza into slices of equal size where not all of the pieces touched the centre? I promptly forgot all about this challenge as I headed out to get some fresh air on a particularly hot evening, but the story became more interesting once the second half began. Matt told us the solution was a shape called a heptagrin (see image – each shape is half a heptagrin), and went on to say that he’d been doodling it at Newcastle MathsJam and had tweeted a photo which was spotted by an art student called Jess Hawke. Jess went on to create some gorgeous heptagrin spiral patterns during her classes but, after a while, fancied a bit more of a challenge… and the heptagrin dress was born! Matt picked up on this and invited her to FOTSN in May to show it off. Jess was the woman I’d seen at the front of the theatre. On her blog, she says:

“I wanted a 3D representation of a heptagrin spiral. Then I realised I could cut a hole in the centre of the spiral and that would act as the waistband of a skirt. I knew it’d work as I’ve made loads of circle skirts and I love the full effect they give. I had an idea of how I wanted the finished skirt to look: 50’s shape, but with a colourful and intricate pattern within the skirt.”

As you can probably guess, this is totally my kind of thing. Desperate to own a nerdy vintage-style skirt, I contacted Jess on Twitter after (or perhaps even during) the show to compliment her on her skills and ask if she would be making the dress to sell. We continued the discussion via email and I’m now pleased to announce that she’s launched her Etsy shop where you can order your very own heptagrin spiral skirt.

Each skirt is hand made to order using a treadle sewing machine. with an electric overlocker used only for hemming the edges. Jess will also source vintage fabrics in the colour(s) of your choice, making this a beautifully sustainable as well as collectible garment. Each will be one of a kind. I have mine on order – we’re currently finalising fabric choices – and I’ll report back with photos as soon as it arrives. Watch this space!

Main image via Festival of the Spoken Nerd. Other images via Jess Hawke.

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