Learn to Crochet with Plastic

The body of a person is seen holding a large coral made out of plastic bags.
Plastic coral submitted by Rebecca Knutson for the Saratoga Springs Satellite Reef, part of the worldwide Crochet Coral Reef project by Christine and Margaret Wertheim and the Institute For Figuring, 2021, photo by Annelise Kelly

Join us via Zoom on Tuesday, November 16, at 7 pm to learn to crochet with plastic for the Saratoga Springs Satellite Reef, part of the worldwide Crochet Coral Reef project by Christine and Margaret Wertheim and the Institute For Figuring.

Instructor Cal Patch will guide us on how to cut up plastic bags, attach strips together, and crochet corals with plastic.

Corals submitted to the Museum will be assembled together to form the Saratoga Springs Satellite Reef, which will be exhibited as part of Radical Fiber: Threads Connecting Art and Science, opening in January 2022. This event is open to all; familiarity with the basic single crochet stitch will be useful.

Register via Zoom.

New to crochet? Use this video to learn the basics, and you’ll be ready to work with plastic!

What you need

  • Plastic: Start collecting plastic bags now! You can use takeout bags, cereal bags, bread bags, frozen fruit bags, newspaper bags—anything you think of! Just be sure to clean out any food bags beforehand.
  • Scissors
  • K/6.5 mm crochet hook (other sizes are also fine!)

Skidmore students: Pick up plastic and crochet hooks November 12–16 at the Tang. Building is open for materials pickup 9 am–5 pm weekdays and 12–5 pm weekends.


About the Crochet Coral Reef

The Crochet Coral Reef is project created by sisters Christine Wertheim and Margaret Wertheim of the Institute For Figuring. Residing at the intersection of mathematics, marine biology, handicraft, and community art practice, the project responds to the environmental crisis of global warming and the escalating problem of oceanic plastic trash by highlighting not only the damage humans do to earth’s ecology, but also our power for positive action. The Wertheims’ Crochet Coral Reef collection has been exhibited worldwide, including at the 2019 Venice Biennale, Andy Warhol Museum (Pittsburgh), Hayward Gallery (London), Science Gallery (Dublin), and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History (Washington, DC). The project also encompasses a community-art program in which more than 10,000 people around the world have participated in making more than 40 locally based Satellite Reefs—in New York, Chicago, Melbourne, Ireland, Latvia, UAE, and elsewhere. The Saratoga Springs Satellite Reef is the latest addition to this ever-evolving wooly archipelago.



About the Artists

Margaret Wertheim is a science writer, artist, and author of books on the cultural history of physics. Christine Wertheim is an experimental poet, performer, artist, and writer, and a faculty member at the California Institute of the Arts. Margaret and Christine conduct the Crochet Coral Reef project through their Los Angeles–based practice, the Institute For Figuring, which is dedicated to “the poetic dimensions of science and mathematics.” The IFF is at once an art endeavor and a framework for innovative public science engagement.


About the Instructor

Cal Patch is a freelance designer and co-founder of MAKE workshop. She currently teaches sewing, crochet, pattern drafting, embroidery, and lots more in the Hudson Valley/Catskills region of New York state, as well as at retreats and shops around the U.S, as well as online. Her first book, Design-It-Yourself Clothes was published in September 2009.

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Pattern by Nathan Bloom ’21
Inspired by the performance Honey Baby in the exhibition Janine Antoni & Stephen Petronio: Entangle
The Tang Pattern Project celebrates the Museum’s 20th anniversary. Organized by Head of Design Jean Tschanz-Egger, past and current Tang Design Interns created patterns inspired by the Museum’s exhibition and event history.