Basketry and mathematics: reflections on curves and surfaces

Stephanie Joan Bunn, Ricardo Nemirovsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


If fingers and fiber elements make textiles through gestural hand movements and spatial techniques, and lines, space, and movement create geometry, then can making textiles be a form of mathematical understanding? This article considers this question through the studio research of the Forces in Translation (FiT) project, which explores the links between basketry and spatial and geometric cognition. Taking an anthropological approach to learning, the group has conducted research through studio trials, allowing understandings and insights to emerge through examining how specific basketry practices and techniques converge with mathematical and spatial forms of inquiry. This approach neither puts basketry (as an arts subject) at the service of mathematics, nor uses mathematics (as an abstraction of everyday forms and structures) as inspiration for making baskets. Instead, the project approaches the two disciplines by conducting them together in a nonhierarchical way. The article discusses, firstly, how basketry is a form of textile. Secondly, FiT’s approach to textiles and mathematics is expanded upon, along with its context within these disciplines. Finally, the dynamic between craft and textiles as forms of geometric cognition is discussed in relation to case studies from the FiT project, illustrating how a hands-on approach—a material, tactile, mathematical approach—can be of great significance for the development of creative geometric and spatial cognition. As the product of ethnographic research through studio trials, this article inevitably takes a reflexive approach to participants’ experience. In order to understand and share new and old expertise, there is also an auto-ethnographic element. Hence, participants’ reflections on the process will be cited.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)50-67
Number of pages17
JournalThe Textile Museum Journal
Issue number49
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2022


Dive into the research topics of 'Basketry and mathematics: reflections on curves and surfaces'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this