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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