Category Archives: Crochet Coral Reef

CONTRIBUTE! Crochet Coral Reef

The Ontario Science Centre is looking for contributors to their Satellite Crochet Coral Reef Project! Read below for all the details, instructions, and informations (and I mean ALL … I went to town with the ‘copy-cut-paste’). We have a donation box at the store where you can drop off your crocheted corals. I think it goes without saying that this is a super fun collaborative project, as well as a great way to use up bits of leftover yarn. It’s a great opportunity to explore colours and textures, and just play around with being creative – kind of like sketching with yarn.

I think it may be especially good if you’re just learning to crochet or teaching someone (you can find Crochet Tutorials HERE), because the wonkier the results are the better. When it comes to perfection, I always say that there are no straight lines in nature (or life), even the horizon is really curved:

Nature, however, does not stick to mathematical perfection and just as there is nothing in nature that is perfectly spherical, so in nature there are no perfect hyperbolics. Living forms result from imperfection, deviation and aberrancy.

HOW TO CROCHET HYPERBOLIC CORALS By the Institute For Figuring

The Crochet Coral Reef is an exhibition rooted in environmentalism. It calls attention to the devastation of living reefs due to climate change while exploring the beauty, science and vital importance of reefs through a community crafting art project. Crocheting corals could be a craft that engages both kids and adults, possibly a teachable moment for us all.

Photo Credit: Coral Forest, by Christine and Margaret Wertheim and the Institute For Figuring. Image by Stephanie Veto for Lehigh University Art Galleries.

Crochet Coral Reef Project – Ontario Satellite Reef

Calling all creative, curious crafters …

The Ontario Science Centre is currently seeking contributions to a province-wide community art project, the Ontario Satellite Reef. Help them create a colourful coral reef—made entirely from crochet! The Ontario Satellite Reef is part of Margaret and Christine Wertheim’s Crochet Coral Reef endeavour, an international initiative inspired by art, science and environmental activism. Since the Wertheims started the project in 2005, nearly 20,000 people from around the world have participated in crocheting 40-plus Satellite Reefs.

Create colourful pieces of coral, then send your work to the Ontario Science Centre (we are a drop-off point)! Your crocheted coral will be displayed at the Science Centre as part of the Ontario Satellite Reef. Plus, upload a pic of your work to social media to contribute to the virtual satellite reef.

How can you participate?

Follow these steps to contribute to the Ontario Satellite Reef:

  1. Use this guide to learn how to crochet coral. You can find Crochet Tutorials HERE.
  2. Check out pics from the virtual satellite reef (below) and read about the Ontario Satellite Reef sections for inspiration.
  3. Create your coral!
  4. Share a pic of your work on Instagram with the tag @OntarioScienceCentre and the hashtag #OntarioSatelliteReef.
  5. Tell them about yourself and your coral creation! On a small piece of paper or index card, write the following information: Name, age, location and any details about your creation you would like to share. Attach it to your coral before you drop it off.
  6. Bring your coral to a designated drop-off spot, or contact the Ontario Science Centre to arrange a drop-off.

Once the science centre receives your coral, they will add your work to the Ontario Satellite Reef. They will also add your name to the list of contributors on display.

Photo: Instagram #OntatioSatelliteReef

Contribute to the virtual satellite reef

To contribute to the virtual satellite reef, upload a photo of your work to Instagram with the tag @OntarioScienceCentre and the hashtag #OntarioSatelliteReef. Your photo will automatically be added to our online gallery.

Want to keep your coral creation? No problem! All crafters are welcome to contribute to the virtual reef. For more details on this project, check out these pages:

Photo Credit: Jayne Jenkins Coral Reef Image Bank

About the Ontario Satellite Reef Sections

The Ontario Satellite Reef is composed of five sections, each with a different theme. Before you crochet your coral, check out the themes below for inspiration. If you don’t have a particular section in mind for your work, we’ll decide where it fits best in the Ontario Satellite Reef.

Tropical Coral Reefs

Tropical reefs exist in shallow, sunlit waters because the microscopic plants that live inside this coral rely on sunlight to produce food. These reefs form some of the most diverse ecosystems in the world, providing food and shelter for an estimated 25% of all ocean species. Suggested crochet materials: Any smooth or textured yarns in vibrant colours.

Cold-Water Coral

Canada has coral, too! Cold-water coral and sponges occur in coastal and offshore waters of the Pacific, Atlantic and Arctic oceans. These slow-growing corals consume plankton to survive and live in very cold water without sunlight. Suggested crochet materials: Smooth white yarn; textured orange, bright pink or purple yarn.

Photo Credit: The Ocean Agency;

Bleached Coral

Under stressful conditions—such as temperature increases, overexposure to sunlight and pollution—coral expels the symbiotic algae living within its tissues, causing it to turn completely white. Although coral can survive bleaching events, continued stress causes coral death. Suggested crochet materials: White or beige yarn in any shade or texture.

The Impacts of Consumerism

Millions of tons of plastic waste, which contains harmful microorganisms, enter our oceans each year. This plastic waste also blocks sunlight from reaching the coral, which can cause coral death. Suggested crochet materials: Cut-up plastic bags (to create plastic yarn); old T-shirts; other recycled materials.

Solutions to the Coral Crisis

Around the world, scientists and activists are working to restore and protect coral reefs. Use your imagination to create coral that lends us hope for the future. Plastic-eating coral, lab-grown coral, 3D-printed coral and more—we want to see your creative ideas for addressing threats to reef survival. Suggested crochet materials: It’s up to you!

Photo Credit: Pod World – Plastic Fantastic, by Christine and Margaret Wertheim and the Institute For Figuring. Image by Francesco Galli for 2019 Venice Biennale.

Environmentalism meets crafting with Crochet Coral Reef

Crochet has an amazing ability to model the mathematically distinct geometry found in coral reefs (see below for a video on geometry in nature), all while bringing together crafting communities and science education. That’s what inspired science writer Margaret Wertheim and artist Christine Wertheim, twin sisters from Australia, to create the Crochet Coral Reef project.

Residing at the intersection of mathematics, marine biology, handicraft and community art practice, the Crochet Coral Reef responds to the environmental crisis of global warming and the escalating problem of oceanic plastic trash through a process of collective creativity. The endeavour highlights not only the damage humans do to Earth’s ecology, but also our power for positive action.

The Wertheims’ collection of Crochet Coral Reef sculptures has been exhibited worldwide, including at the 2019 Venice Biennale, The Andy Warhol Museum (Pittsburgh), Hayward Gallery (London), Science Gallery (Dublin) and the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History (Washington, D.C.). It will be at the Science Centre until the end of October 2021.

The project also encompasses a community-engagement program in which nearly 20,000 people around the world have participated in making 40+ locally-based Satellite Reefs. The Ontario Satellite Reef is the latest addition to this ever-evolving collection.

Photo Credit: Pod World – Hyperbolic, by Christine and Margaret Wertheim and the Institute For Figuring. Image by Francesco Galli for 2019 Venice Biennale.

The Story Behind the Crochet Coral Reef project

Global warming is destroying the ecology of living reefs. That’s what drove science writer Margaret Wertheim and artist Christine Wertheim, twin sisters from Australia, to create the Crochet Coral Reef project in 2005. They realized crochet has an amazing ability to mimic the mathematically unique forms of reefs while bringing crafting and science education together.

The Crochet Coral Reef calls attention to the devastation of living reefs due to climate change while exploring the beauty, science and vital importance of reefs through a community crafting art project. The Wertheims’ Crochet Coral Reef travelling exhibition has been presented around the world, inspiring community activism, environmental awareness, and math and science learning.

Margaret and Christine also founded and co-direct the Institute for Figuring, a non-profit organization that hosts the continuing evolution of the Crochet Coral Reef project.

Through a participatory program the sisters designed, more than 20,000 people have crocheted more than 40 community-based Satellite Reefs—from Chicago, New York, London and Melbourne, to other sites across England, Ireland, Latvia, Germany and the United Arab Emirates. The Ontario Science Centre is currently building Ontario Satellite Reef—the latest addition to the ongoing global network of Satellite Reefs.

Photo: https://www.margaretwertheim.com/crochet-coral-reef

The Artists Behind Crochet Coral Reef

The Crochet Coral Reef project was created by sisters Margaret Wertheim and Christine Wertheim, who are also co-directors of the project’s host organization, the Institute For Figuring, in Los Angeles. The Wertheims have created Crochet Coral Reef exhibitions for more than 20 museums and galleries internationally, and together they are the authors and editors of the Crochet Coral Reef book.

About Margaret Wertheim

Margaret Wertheim is an internationally recognized writer, artist and curator. Focusing on the interconnected relationships between science, art, culture, crafting and community STEM engagement, her honours include the Scientia Medal for Science Communication (Australia), and the American Association of Physics Teachers prestigious Klopsteg Award for “conveying the excitement of physics.” 

Ms. Wertheim is the author of six books, including a trilogy about the cultural history of physics, and has written for publications ranging from The New York Times to New Scientist. Before moving to the USA in 1991, she conceived, wrote and co-directed Catalyst, a six-part television science series aimed at teenage girls. 

margaretwertheim.com


About Christine Wertheim

Christine Wertheim is a poet, performer, artist, critic, curator and collaborator. She has a PhD in literature and semiotics and is a faculty member at the California Institute of the Arts in the Department of Critical Studies, where she teaches courses on art+feminism, pataphysics, nonsense and rubbish. 

Christine has authored and edited eight books, including three poetic suites and three literary anthologies. She is a former director of the CalArts MFA Writing Program and has written for many magazines, including X-TRA and Jacket. 

christine-wertheim.com

Photo Credit: Coral Forest, by Christine and Margaret Wertheim and the Institute For Figuring. Image by Stephanie Veto for Lehigh University Art Galleries.