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Introduction Islamic Geometric Ornament: Drawing and Construction of the Islamic Star Pattern.

A classic eight point star in red oak, 58 x 44 inches: 1.5 x 1.1 meters. Alan D Adams, 2011. Commissioned work.

These notes approach the construction of a unique and fascinating tradition of ornament, the Islamic geometric star, from a very specific point of view. The goal was to understand the structure well enough to produce these patterns in wood. This required an approach to understanding the patterns which differs from the approach where a finished drawing of the pattern is the objective. Building in wood requires exact dimensioned drawings which require a somewhat different understanding of the structure. There are several very good publications which deal with the Islamic geometric star and usually more broadly with Islamic or Arabic geometric patterns. Approaches using the traditional compass and straight edge construction 1 and using modern CAD drawing software2 are represented. Several pattern books also exist which catalog patterns with very little information on how they were constructed.3 This approach will have a somewhat different emphasis. Rather than present a selection of patterns and demonstrate constructions, a general method is used to

examine a particular star. Patterns are constructed and developed step by step into more complex tilings. This should lead to a better understanding of the structure of the patterns, how they arise, and how to approach any new pattern construction which is not presented here. The progression will be from very simple patterns to moderately complex examples. Ultimately, drawings for construction of the patterns in wood will be presented. This method is an attempt to understand the larger patterns based on tiling interactions. Almost all of the design work described here is determined by the geometry of the star. There are very few free choices to be made. If there is a simple description of this approach to this uniquely recognizable and beautiful art form, it would be submission to geometry. The Islamic Geometric Star. The scope of Islamic geometric design is vast and covers many national traditions. There are several distinctly different approaches to design and esthetics across over a thousand years of documented history. This text will concentrate on a subset of the extensive Islamic geometric art tradition, the star or rosette patterns. The patterns used as examples occur all across the Islamic world. To choose an example to develop the method, a twelve point star is a good start. It is not more complex than the six or eight point star but it illustrates almost all of the points needed to understand all similar stars and their tilings. The story below begins at the simplest star and grows outward. The method of construction is presented as the classical compass and straight edge method. Angles, lines and intersections are defined by arcs of a circle and straight lines only. This is generally considered to be the best method for drawing the patterns on paper and, perhaps surprisingly, it is probably the best method for construction the patterns using modern computer design software. The details of scaling and proportion use a system first published by Anthony J Lee. This is far from the only approach, but it teaches the most about why the patterns are drawn the way they are and how they can be predictably modified. The notes are intended to be read in sequence. Material will generally not be repeated. We begin.
Alan D Adams, Holland, New York, March 2013. License: Creative Commons -Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0) Text, photos and drawings.

References: References will be appended to each chapter. References will be repeated if needed 1) Classical approaches to compass and straight edge design. a) Lee, Anthony J, Islamic Star Patterns, Muqarnas, Vol. 4 (1987), pp. 182-197. b) Lee, Anthony J, Notebooks: Summaries of main results of Researches into the Geometry of Islamic Star Patterns during Nov 1964 - May 1985. Volumes 1, 2 and 3. Available at: These are scans of manuscript (handwritten) research notes. If you can read A.J. Lees handwriting, which is neat and readable, these are very informative reading. c) Wade, David, Pattern in Islamic Art, 144 pages, Littlehampton Book Services Ltd, 1976. ISBN-10: 0289707196, ISBN-13: 978-0289707197. Excellent book. Out of print, available used. The plates from this book, but not the text, are available on Wades website; d) Broug, Eric; Islamic Geometric Patterns (with CD-ROM); Thames and Hudson; 2008. Eric joins the categories of pattern catalogs with careful analysis of construction. Very nice analysis of construction of several pattern types. e) Castera, Jean-Marc; Peuriot, Francoise; Ploquin, Philippe: Arabesques: Decorative Art in Morocco; ISBN 9782867701245. A remarkably expensive but very interesting book. Castera has yet another individual perspective on pattern construction. 2) Computer Applications. a) Kaplan, Craig S, Computer graphics and geometric ornamental design, Ph.D. thesis, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, 2002. b) Kaplan, Craig S, Islamic star patterns from polygons in contact, Graphics Interface 2005, ACM International Conference Proceeding Series 112, 2005, pp. 177186. c) Kaplan, Craig S; Salesin, David H. Islamic star patterns in absolute geometry. ACM Trans. Graph., 23(2), 97 119, 2004. This is a fairly technical discussion but contains some very interesting practical points. d) Abas, Syed J.; Salman, Amer S., Symmetries of Islamic Geometric Patterns, World Scientific, Singapore, London, Hong Kong, 1995. This volume sits uncomfortably between a symmetry and computer generation discussion and a pattern catalog. 3) Catalogs. a) Bourgoin, J, Arabic Geometrical Pattern and Design, Dover Publications; First ed 1973. ISBN-10:0486229246, ISBN-13: 978-0486229249 The archetypal catalog. A handy catalog. Limited in geographic scope but interesting. It even has a Kindle edition. b) Arabian Geometric Patterns, Pepin Press; revised Ed, 2011. ISBN-10: 9057681560, ISBN-13: 978-9057681561 A catalog. Includes a CD ROM with jpg and tiff drawings of many patterns. Generous non commercial license. Very little information on construction of the patterns.