As a long time crocheter, I’m sometimes amazed at the artistic ability of fellow crafters. I stumbled across just such an amazing crochet project that a pair of sisters, Christine and Margaret Wertheim, created that combines their love for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). The couple’s goal is to help the rest of us see that science and math are all around us and they can be beautiful, by offering a hands-on way to engage, through their Institute for Figuring (IFF).

The IFF is a Los Angeles-based non-profit organization whose goal is to share the aesthetic as well as the poetic side of math and science. What started as a one reef project has taken off and can now satellite projects can be found worldwide, and since its inception in 2007, the Crochet Coral Reef (CCR) project has had nearly 8,000 participants. Through the IFF, communities can create and assemble large-scale artwork for permanent display, special events, or as ongoing programs.

Purchase the Crochet Coral Reef: A Project by the Institute For Figuring Paperback – June 26, 2015, by Marion Endt-Jones, Leslie Dick, and Anna Mayer

Purchase the Crochet Coral Reef: A Project by the Institute For Figuring Paperback – June 26, 2015, by Marion Endt-Jones, Leslie Dick, and Anna Mayer

But why marry crochet with coral to accomplish this task? For one, reefs are living examples of a plethora of geometric organisms all sharing a common space.  It provides a way for people to think of geometrical shapes and to recreate them in a tangible way with yarn. It also shines a light on the precariousness of our coral reefs and what the human species has done to damage and change them.

These crochet coral reefs bring together communities of crocheters to create individual pieces of art that are then assembled into something bigger. They become a mashup of handmade creations in every color, shape, and size imaginable.

Sattelite Crochet Coral Reefs

Crochet is an international language, and satellite reefs have been created all over the world. For a full listing of locations, visit the crochetcoralreef.org site; however, the following participants have an online presence where you can check out their projects.

EUROPE:  England & Reef –UKGermanyIrelandLatvia, Latvian Schools, & Latvian Reef Tours

MIDDLE EAST: Abu Dhabi

NORTH AMERICA

Canada:  Abbotsford School of Integrated Arts

United States: Arizona – Lake Scottsdale; California – Gideon Hausner Jewish Day School, University of Santa Cruz (in process now – debut Feb  2017); Colorado – DenverColorado Department of Youth Corrections; Florida – St. Petersburg; Indiana – IndianaIndiana State Women’s Prison; Illinois – Chicago; Maine – Maine; Maryland – Baltimore; Minnesota – Minneapolis; New Jersey – Pennington School; New York – New YorkVassar College; North Carolina – Asheville; Texas – San Antonio; Utah –  Bonneville; Virginia – Roanoke Valley; and Washington DC – Smithsonian

AUSTRALIA: AlbanyMelbourneRiAus AdelaideSunshine Coast, and Sydney

Don’t miss this time-lapse reef-building video created by the Minneapolis Coral Reef Project

Starting Your Own Coral Coral Reef Project

To start an official satellite reef, visit the IFF crochet project and check out the guidelines for doing so here. Want to do you own coral reef? We’ve found these great free patterns to get you started.

Paid and Free Coral Reef Crochet Patterns plus Free Video Tutorials