The Tiling Game

I only learnt about The Tiling Game a few months ago. It’s mentioned over just a couple of pages in my Montessori R&D Geometry II manual, and the only place I can find to purchase it is through Albanesi – for over $300, not including the storage box! Well, you know me…that wasn’t going to work.

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The material is used for tessellating and patterning work and there are a lot of piece options. The pieces listed on the Albanesi website are different to those listed in my R&D album. It’s a large material.

I cut a few shapes from sticky back foam – which I think would work well for an at home environment, but would need to be replenished as used. I upgraded my Cricut from an Explore to a Maker around the same time I heard about this material and so I wanted to test out it’s capabilities.

I’m not packaging together a set of SVG files for The Tiling Game – I very much made my version to fit the 8×10″ sheets of basswood I could buy, based on the shapes I thought were most important, and on my interpretation of a material I’ve never seen in person.

From the descriptions I’ve read, the sizes of the shapes should be based on the sizes of shapes in the geometric cabinet, which means that they might inscribe with each other. I chose to base mine on 4cm and 8cm edge lengths/diameters so that different shapes could tile along with each other. I used 1/16″ thick 8″x10″ basswood sheets because it was a new material that the Maker could cut, and the price was reasonable – I went through 3 packs of sheets per pack, though only about 23 sheets ended up in the final kit because of the learning curve of using a new material and user error – some tips:
★ use plenty of blue painter’s or masking tape to hold the basswood onto the strong grip mat.
★ cut on the back side – small angles WILL chip, but it doesn’t matter on the back.
★ Cricut says not to cut within 1″ of the edge of the wood sheet. Cutting within 1/4″ is fine if the edges are well taped.

Here’s what I did:
★ I mixed up pretty strong batches of liquid watercolors, which we’ve had around for years – they’re a fantastic art supply!
★ I brushed each board quickly with enough color to provide a vibrant color, but not soak the wood, and let dry overnight.

I use a free vector graphics program, Inkscape, to make my SVG files. It’s got a great polygon drawing function and I used various polygon calculators to determine the heights or widths I needed.

I chose to cut:
★ 4 cm squares
★ 4 cm equilateral triangles
★ 4 cm x 2 cm rectangles
★ 8 cm squares
★ 8 cm equilateral triangles
★ 8 cm x 4 cm rectangles
★ pentagons with 4cm sides
★ hexagons with 4cm sides
★ heptagons with 4cm sides
★ octagons with 4 cm sides
★ nonagons with 4 cm sides
★ decagons with 4cm sides
★ circles with an 8cm diameter
★ semi-circles with an 8cm diameter
★ curvilinear squares to fit within 4 circles
★ curvilinear rectangles to fit within 4 circles
★ 4 pointed stars/concave octagons to fit within 4 heptagons
★ 4 cm sided rhombi to match two equilateral triangles joined at the base
★ 4 cm sided narrow rhombi to fit between pentagons
★ 4 cm sided wide rhombi to fit between pentagons

I tried to cut at least 4 of the smaller shapes that emphasize the shapes that don’t tessellate, 6-8 of each polygon, and more circles, squares, rectangles, and triangles. I only cut 2 decagons because I ran out of wooden boards. I will cut another at some point.

Once all the wood was cut, I used Inkscape, some careful measuring, and my Cricut to cut little compartment boxes for each shape (though some have to share) from cardstock, taped them up, and made everything fit in a fairly large, shallow box I had on hand.

I’m really happy with the result. I think that we have plenty of material to be going along with – my little has been using it while I’ve been creating it. I love that the pieces are thick and sturdy enough that we can trace around them. We can also use painter’s or masking tape to shape some of the polygons together to make the Platonic solids. We’ll be getting started with tiling soon. Our current history chapters focus on the Islamic Empire so we can also create art based on Islamic tiling designs. I’m excited to get started.