Folding the Circle as Both Whole and Part

Bradford Hansen-Smith
Bridges: Mathematical Connections in Art, Music, and Science (2004)
Pages 87–94


This paper is an introduction to fourteen years of proportional folding paper plates and observing the information- generating and modeling capabilities of the circle. The process of folding circles expands our understanding about the nature of the circle that is not predictable by drawing circles. Unlike all other shapes and forms the circle functions as both Whole and part at the same time. Folding and joining circles is a transformational process generating patterned formations and systems that closely reflects what is observed in nature. It is possible that the circle is the most comprehensive and inclusive hands-on tool we have for modeling patterns, generating forms, revealing abstractions of function, and principles that are common to the arts, mathematics, and the sciences.