Lately, I’ve been fascinated with kaleidocycles. Kaleidocycles endlessly rotate on themselves and can be made using a single piece of paper. I came across a copy of M.C. Escher Kaleidocycles, and began my own journey creating a tessellating pattern I could superimpose onto kaleidocycles. The tessellation I created depicts the transformation of the Selkie. You can purchase the kaelidocycle I made here, and assemble using the included instructions or by following the tutorial:

Tessellating Selkie Kaleidocycle 

A tessellation is a repeating pattern of shapes that, like tiling one’s floor, fit together perfectly to cover a plane without gaps or overlaps. This particular tessellation uses rotational and translational symmetry to create its repeating pattern.

Any tessellation could theoretically continue infinitely, but in our practical world, they’re usually bound by the size of the paper on which they’re made. However, in this case, the tessellation has been formatted to fit on a kaleidocycle. 

Kaleidocycles are three dimensional rings that can rotate endlessly through their centers. Made up of tetrahedra joined and hinged along an edge, they were discovered by Wallace Walker in 1958. There’re almost an infinite variety of kaleidocycles, but this one, a Hexagonal Kaleidocycle, is the simplest. 

Because kaleidocycles endlessly rotate on themselves and can be made using a single side of a piece of paper, we can use them to approximate an infinite plane and create a tessellation that appears similarly endless. The tessellation I created depicts the transformation of the Selkie

The myth of the Selkie, from Norse and Celtic mythology, tells of a rare and beautiful creature who is both woman and seal. When wearing her sealskin coat, she lives as a seal in the ocean. When she takes the coat off, she lives as a woman on land. In many versions of the myth, she falls in love with a human, and joins him for a time on land. But the man, fearful she might someday leave him and return to the sea, hides her sealskin coat. Longing for her own choice, for her freedom, and for her ocean home, the selkie spends her days searching for her coat. When at last she finds it, she puts it on and disappears into the waves, never to return. 

In this kaleidocycle, the selkie transforms endlessly from seal to woman and back again. She is free in her transformation to take both forms and full with the power that comes with living as her whole self.