Thursday 21 July 2011

Kosticks’ Geometric Works of Art

...Something special...
I stumbled across John and Jane Kostick’s website by accident while I was reading Gabriel Fernandes’ Tetraxis toy blog post. The Tetraxis toy looked like an interesting little novelty puzzle using some of the same sort of geometry that makes a lot of Stewart Coffin’s designs so challenging – at the end of the blog post there’s a pointer to some of the Kosticks’ other work on their website, so I surfed on over, and came across something beautiful
Along with their special flavour of cabinetry and furniture, the Kosticks have been quietly making awesome geometrical artwork for decades – John produces intricate interlocking bronze constructions – take a look at his stars over here … and Jane produces geometric masterpieces in wood.  Their web shop sells their Tetraxis “magnetic geometry puzzles” direct and their website hints that the wooden sculptures may be available ... so I sent off an enquiring email asking whether it might be possible to get a wooden version of their Tetraxis puzzle (because I thought they looked absolutely gorgeous!) and received a reply from Jane pretty soon afterwards, full of enthusiasm, saying she’d be happy to make one up - what size, what shape, and what woods did I want? All of which sort of caught me off-guard, because I’m still not really used to crafts(wo)men like this making something up, especially for me – I was expecting to be offered something from a list of stock she had around at the moment ... I managed to get over all that and settled on a four inch set of sixteen axis sticks in a combination of maple, cherry and purpleheart. A few days later Jane offered me a matching sixteen axis silicon bronze star and it didn’t take long to say “What the heck, yes, please!”... I wandered off on my holidays and soon after I got back I had an email from Jane saying the sticks were all done and she’d be shipping them across the pond shortly. They duly arrived on Monday, along with the two plastic Tetraxis toys I’d ordered (‘cos they looked like they’d be fun to fiddle with!). 

Having a pair of the plastic Tetraxis toys means you can experiment with odd shapes and strange constructions or mix and match colours between the two standard shapes – I’m easily amused, I know... but the main attraction in the box was the fully assembled sixteen axis sculpture nestling in the corner – inside a couple of bubble-wrap bags. 
Suffice it to say that it looks a million dollars! The three different woods have all been clearly taken from the same boards - they all match perfectly – and the fit and finish is superb. Each little stick has four individual neodymium magnets placed in exactly the right spot to automagically align the structures properly as you’re building them.
The sixteen axis sculpture is made up of three layers:
- a six axis ball made up of thirty wide sticks that leave very small holes at the main intersections of three and five sticks,
- surrounded by a ten axis ball made up of thirty narrow sticks that forms a lattice around the six axis ball’s features,
- with a sixteen axis silicon bronze star deep inside all of that, with only the very tips of the major axes peeking through some of the holes in the six axis ball.
The fit between those three layers is really good as you can see from the close-up, where the shiny ball in the centre is the very tip of the silicon bronze star peeking through from inside, while the outer shell touches all of the vertices of the inner pieces it passes across – and every piece is held securely in place, with a really positive click, by those perfectly placed magnets.
Not only a beautiful piece of art to admire, but a therapeutic toy to fiddle with and experiment on. What might have started out life as a means of teaching geometrical concepts has turned into a lovely puzzling piece of art.

Keep an eye on these folks, 
I suspect you’ll be hearing more from them in the near future ... ;-)

Thanks Jane and John – I love my sculpture – all the best for your future puzzling endeavours!

[Postscript: Tetraxis toys are available from Grand Illusions in the UK.  ]


  1. Nice find Allard!

  2. Now they really are things of beauty!

  3. The Geomag builder in me really likes those :-D

  4. I'd be interested to know approximately how much the wooden ones cost. Are they over $100? Over $300? They are gorgeous and probably difficult to make. If you don't want to post this on your blog, please send me an email ...