DNA-inspired Basketmaking: Scaffold-Strand Construction of Wireframe Sculptures

James Mallos
Proceedings of Bridges 2017: Mathematics, Art, Music, Architecture, Education, Culture
Pages 57–62 Regular Papers


A recent achievement in nanotechnology has been self-assembly of wireframe models from scaffold strand DNA— long single strands of DNA encoded with information that will become folding and gluing instructions when the strand hybridizes with shorter strands called staple DNA. In the assembled complex, the scaffold strand traces a non-crossing Eulerian circuit (an A-trail) over the surface of the model (that surface being limited to a topological sphere.) I present a larger scale—human-mediated—version of this technique for making wireframe sculptures and armatures. Using triple strands (as opposed to the double strands of DNA) is advantageous with this technique. The information that needs to be imprinted on the scaffold strand amounts to merely some pre-bends and dot markings. Having weaving instructions marked on one of the elements of the weaving may in some cases be faster and less confusing for the weaver than transcribing from symbols on paper.