Turk's Head Knot
Freakin’ Sweet Knots is my latest project that generates 3D printable models of woven knots. Try out the Freakin’ Sweet Knots – Ring Creator! The project has been a work in progress since college, though I had no idea what it would evolve into at the time. In this post I’ll explain how it came to be.

Grid Maker

In college, my dad asked me to write a program that could help knot tiers design and tie a type of knot called a Turk’s head. Wikipedia does a pretty good job explaining what a Turk’s head is:

Turk’s head knot is a decorative knot with a variable number of interwoven strands, forming a closed loop. The name is used to describe the general family of all such knots rather than one individual knot. While generally seen made around a cylinder, the knot can also be deformed into a flat, mat-like shape. Some variants can be arranged into a roughly spherical shape, akin to a monkey’s fist knot. –  Wikipedia

Here are some examples of Turk’s heads that my dad and I have tied.

I put together a program for my dad and it became known as the Grid Maker on Knot Heads World Wide and the International Guild of Knot Tyers. You can try it out here. The Grid Maker generates an image of a knot grid, as well as instructions for how to tie single stranded Turk’s heads. Here’s an example if you want to give it a try:

grid

From A1      . . . . .      to B4
From B4      . . . . .      to A7
From A7      . . . . .      to B3
From B3      O . . . .      to A6
From A6      U . . . .      to B2
From B2      O U . . .      to A5
From A5      U O . . .      to B1
From B1      O U O . .      to A4
From A4      U O U . .      to B7
From B7      O U O U .      to A3
From A3      U O U O .      to B6
From B6      O U O U O      to A2
From A2      U O U O U      to B5
From B5      O U O U O      to A1


The knot grid image can be printed and wrapped around a cylinder (such as a used up paper towel roll). Then follow the instructions listed, making sure to go over and under the number of times listed as you cross strands by wrapping your cord around the cylinder.

I’ve since made a more advanced Grid Maker, that can design much more complicated multi-stranded Turk’s heads, while still providing instructions for how to tie them. The advanced Grid Maker has played a major role in developing Freakin’ Sweet Knots to what it is today. It’s not quite as user friendly as the original, but it can do quite a bit more. You can try the advanced version here. I’ll show some example grids below, once I get to the 3D stuff.

Knot Animation

In my senior year of college, after getting more 3D graphics classes under my belt, I adapted the Grid Maker to generate animations of Turk’s heads being tied. Here is an animation that helped me get a job at Dreamworks Animation as an effects artist several years ago.

Engagement Ring

closeup800While at Dreamworks, I decided to ask my girlfriend at the time to marry me. Because of my knot hobby, I decided to tie the engagement ring out of wire. I’d never worked with wire before, so I practiced and experimented for months before making the ring on the right. Learn more about that process in my instructable. During the process of tying the ring, it occurred to me that I could adapt my knot programs to generate 3D printable models of rings. It wasn’t until about a year after I left Dreamworks that I followed up on the idea, but it became Freakin’ Sweet Knots!

Freakin’ Sweet Knots

About a year after leaving Dreamworks, my wife and I decided to get a puppy. I started tying rope toys for her and it stirred up the 3D printed knot idea. I dug up my old code and started hacking away. My first 3D printed ring was 4 part x 11 bight Turk’s head, the same knot that I tied out of wire that convinced me I was capable of tying my wife’s engagement ring. The ring on the left is the one I tied by hand, the ones on the right are my first 3D prints in various materials.

first_3dprint

The metal prints didn’t have the detail I was hoping for, but the results were promising. I kept developing Freakin’ Sweet Knots while testing the limitations of 3D printing. I also began ordering the higher quality materials such as silver and even gold. The image at the top of the page, was my first gold print. I’ve used the advanced Grid Maker to design various knots and fed them into Freakin’ Sweet Knots to generate 3D models. Here are a couple examples:

Celtic Ring

celtic_ring_knot_grid

celtic_ring_renderDSC_0054-Edit-2


Bottle Opener

bottle_opener_grid

DSC_0003-EditDSC_0010-Edit

Custom Rings

I like the idea of allowing users to customize their own stuff. When I was tying my wife’s ring, I experimented with many different knots and weave patterns to see whether I liked how they looked. I wanted Freakin’ Sweet Knots to be able to quickly show what a given knot would look like as a ring. The Turk’s Head Knot Ring Creator does just that! It allows the user to drag a few sliders and click a few buttons to design a ring. Right now you can order the ring in plastic, silver or gold plated brass, but soon I’d like to offer precious metals such as 14K gold or platinum. Check out this video of the ring creator in action:

Eventually, I’d like to incorporate more advanced features into various creator apps, so stay tuned!

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