The Language of Pattern…

The Language of Pattern.

Pattern – (noun). The arrangement of repeated parts or decorative designs. Regular way that something is done. Diagram or shape used as a guide to make something.

Pattern is all around us, from the moment that we open our eyes as a newborn, right until we close them for the very last time.

We forever search for it with our senses and we use it as the way to understand the environment we live in. Pattern is everything; all of our senses rely on it in order for us to survive. Our ears are attuned to the pattern of sound, without which we wouldn’t enjoy music, might get stung by a bee or wouldn’t understand speech.

Our sense of touch is governed by the pattern of relief, letting us feel texture, caused by electro-pulses to the brain without which we might cut, burn or freeze ourselves.

Our brain uses our sense of sight to see pattern which it stores in order to make sense of the environment in which we live. Without this we would not recognise the shape of our mothers face from the next persons.

We would not be able to see, or tell, the difference between one object and another. For example I have five apples in my fruit basket, I know from the pattern of shape, the pattern of colour and the pattern of texture and my memory of similar apples that these fruit are ripe to eat and should be sweet and crisp.

The languages of pattern, and the way we see, and digest it, make us what we are. It is how we make sense of the world around us. Everything follows a pattern, without which there would be chaos. Just in the same way as my mother used to follow knitting patterns,

or I would follow the assembly patterns of my model aeroplanes,

everything around us follows a pattern. From the smallest grain of dust,

to the mighty universe,

everything around us has a pattern.

Patterns in Nature.

I am going to explore two patterns in nature, the pattern of ice and snowflakes, and the pattern of living organic cells.

Frozen in pattern.

As a child I was always amazed at this time of year by the patterns of ice.

When I asked my Mother how these patterns were created I was told that “Jack Frost” had been out and created them all during the night.

Magical and wonderful the patterns really intrigued me. There were so many different types of pattern that no two were ever the same.

Now as a grown-up I understand how these patterns are created and am no less intrigued or amazed. The shape and properties of every object are made up from the pattern of the molecules of which it is formed. Ice is made from water. Water is the chemical substance with chemical formula H2O:

one molecule of water has two hydrogen atoms covalently bonded to a single oxygen atom. Because of the particular bond which these molecules have water when it freezes joins together with five other molecules to form a six-sided hexagon.

This group attaches to another and another until we end up with a snowflake.

This is why snowflakes always have six sides, or branches. Water as it freezes enters its first solid state this starts at 4°C and goes all the way to -100c. As the water freezes the molecules align themselves and in doing so expand. This is a peculiarity of water, all other matter as it gets colder and freezes contracts. Water follows this principle to 4°C then from this point starts to expand. When cooled from room temperature liquid water becomes increasingly dense, just like other substances. But at approximately 4°C, pure water reaches its maximum density. As it is cooled further, it expands to become less dense.

This unusual negative thermal expansion is attributed to strong, orientation-dependent, intermolecular interactions and is also observed in molten silica.

This is one of the factors that gives molecular structure to crystalline glazes, a very nice example of an artist who uses these glazes is Jesse Wiseman Hull.

Here is a link to his site…

Just as the Silica in the glaze crystalized this molecular interaction is what gives frozen water, frost and snowflakes their shape.

As you can see the pattern of water when frozen is completely governed by the pattern of its constituent molecules.

No two snowflakes are ever the same, but they all have six sides.

As my mother followed her knitting pattern, water follows its own pattern as it freezes,

with beautiful results.

Interesting link…

The Pattern of Life.

Life follows pattern, all living things follow the pattern set out in its genes this is contained within the organism’s Deoxyribonucleic acid or DNA.

This DNA is the pattern or blueprint for life. Each different organism from the simplest Amoeba to the very complex such as us has a DNA blueprint. Each organism has a different pattern, this pattern is responsible for the growth, development and functioning of that particular organism.

Each organism is made up of cells,

these cells follow the pattern set out in is DNA. The cells themselves also form patterns; each having its own role has a different structure.

An artist who is completely obsessed with cells and how they look under the microscope is Baz Manning. She is completely taken in by the structure of cells and their boundaries. She sits just on the edge between science and art and tries to replicate in clay what he sees through the electron microscope.

Here is a link to her site…

This for me still doesn’t compare with the beauty of real living cells.

From my youth I remember one Christmas receiving a chemistry set. It opened a whole wonderful new world to me, that which is hidden from us but revealed beneath the lens of a microscope. As shown in this clip…

The structures of cells fascinated me.

The different patterns were truly wonderful. It is amazing to think of how accurate the pattern of life truly is.

If you were to grow two of the same seeds from one plant and under the same conditions; soil, humidity, sunlight, warmth etc. then you would end up with two identical specimens.

This is the pattern of life.


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