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Check Out the Behemoth: an Oversized Robot That Makes Nerdy Quilts

As a scientist turned software innovator turned Maker, Theodore Gray’s creations (like his Periodic Table Table and his bestselling book and app The Elements have always had a nerdy bent.

In recent years, Gray has turned that nerdy/artsy side towards the creation of giant chemical and mathematical quilts. In 2015, Gray and his girlfriend, film director Nina Paley (Sita Sings the Blues and the upcoming Seder-Masochism), founded PaleGray Labs to promote and sell their textile collaborations — which are available for holiday gift-giving.

The quilts are produced on a giant robotic quilting machine they have dubbed Behemoth. The Quilt Master IV full-frame quilt plotter can sew up to1500 stitches per minute and create intricate designs as large as a king-size bed. When Behemoth is at work, you can even follow along at home via their Stitch Cam.

animated-horse-quilt

Naturally, Gray and Paley’s designs are a celebration of their interests. They include animated quilts using a technique Paley calls “embroidermation” — stills, like Muybridge’s famous galloping horse — that when viewed in sequence at a high enough rate of speed turn into animated images.

molecule-quilt

The chemical quilts feature all your favorite molecules, including caffeine and theobromine (the active ingredient in chocolate). You can also custom order a quilt featuring that very special chemical compound.

pi-quilt

The math quilts include small and large versions of pi (depending on how many digits you are in the market for), spiraling down towards infinity and sparkly Fibonacci Sequins.

fibonacci-sequins

The quilts, which start at single squares and panels suitable for wall hangings, can be ordered through the PaleGray Labs website for holiday delivery. Prices range from $100 and up.

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Kathy's latest books for Maker Media include Fabric and Fiber Inventions, Musical Inventions, and Edible Inventions. She is also the author of Paper Inventions, Making Simple Robots, and other books full of STEAM activities for kids and other beginners. When she's not busy writing, Kathy presents workshops for students and educators at schools, museums, libraries, and makerspaces throughout the Northeast. Visit her at Crafts for Learning.

View more articles by Kathy Ceceri