We’re doing some­thing a little bit dif­fer­ent for this week’s Beady Eyed Craftster: a theme. A really nerdy theme. Specifically, the Periodic Table of Elements.

Why? Well, I’ve always been a fan. The first Christmas I spent with my then wife-to-be she gave me a small lam­in­ated copy of the Periodic Table – I don’t know how she knew I was a fan, but I still have it in my wallet.

It might be con­sidered a bit weird to be a fan of a table, but I admire the way it com­bines sci­ence and design. Now, the sci­ence but is obvi­ous, but design? It’s just a lot of blocks isn’t it? Well, yes, but it’s a very clever arrange­ment of blocks, and a big part of design is arran­ging things in a way that con­veys addi­tional inform­a­tion. For example, it’s arranged into groups and peri­ods – ele­ments that share a group show trends for some prop­er­ties, as do ele­ments that share a period. In other words, it’s not just a list of ele­ments, it’s a map, a land­scape. Each ele­ment doesn’t sit in insol­a­tion, but in a con­text, sur­roun­ded by it’s sim­ilar but dif­fer­ent neigh­bours. I also love the way that it isn’t a per­fect grid, some groups are big­ger than oth­ers, because it’s map­ping a nat­ural phe­nom­ena, not a man-made thing.

Okay, but I haven’t for­got­ten that this is a craft blog, not some bizarre chem­istry fan-boy blog.

Luckily, the Periodic Table of Elements has been bor­rowed and remixed in some arty and crafty ways. Let’s get started.


• How about an actual table? Theodore Gray’s won­der­ful Wooden Periodic Table Table shows a huge amount of old-time crafts­man­ship. To quote its builder ‘For well over a hun­dred years the world has failed to take proper notice of the word “Table” clearly con­tained in the name of the fam­ous Periodic Table of the Elements.’  (Incidentally, don’t be put off by the some­what 90’s look­ing web­site – it’s well worth fol­low­ing some of the links.)

• Sticking with wood, but on a smal­ler scale, these Periodic Table Building Blocks are a set of solid wood build­ing blocks. It makes sense if you think about it; ele­ments are the build­ing blocks of the uni­verse, after all.

• But why restrict ourselves to real ele­ments? Russell Walks’ Periodic Table of Imaginary Elements col­lates made-up ele­ments from film, tele­vi­sion, lit­er­at­ure and games into a really nicely illus­trated table. Indispensable for ima­gin­ary scientists!

• Moving away from ele­ments, we have the Periodic Table of Typefaces from SquidSpot. If you’re a font geek like me, I think you’ll like this table of 100 fonts. And like the ori­ginal table, it’s organ­ised into groups, so that sim­ilar fonts cluster together.

• From font geekery to, well, geek geekery — Mike Vasilev’s Periodic Table of Controllers shows the but­ton lay­outs for dozens and dozens of con­sole game con­trol­lers. This is another nice bit of illus­tra­tion, and I like the min­im­al­ist focus on just the but­ton layout.

• I can’t claim this one is par­tic­u­larly crafty, or an amaz­ing bit of design, but I couldn’t not link to the Periodic Table from the BBC’s ‘Look Around You’ show. Any table with “Nothing” as an ele­ment gets my vote.

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One Response to Beady Eyed Craftster: Periodically Themed

  1. […] talk­ing about art based on the peri­odic table of con­tents the other week, I had an idea for a piece of peri­odic art of my own. Now it’s not quite […]

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