3D print and assemble your own classic Islamic-style artwork by using Girih tiles to build intricate woven strapwork!
The tiling pattern in the photo is rotationally symmetric. On the left are the basic colorful tile shapes. Towards the middle we have started to add the overlaid strapwork, which is completely determined by the tiles. On the right, we added gray mosaic tiles to obscure the original tiles and reveal the strapwork pattern.
Girih tiles are used in Islamic art and architecture to create intricate woven strapwork patterns. The underlying periodic patterns that create these designs are related to Penrose tilings and predate the formal mathematical discoveries of such tilings by at least 500 years.
Photo by Guy Sie
We needed to print hundreds of tiles to bring to SXSW Interactive, so the printing was split up between four printers: an Ultimaker 2+, an Ultimaker 2, an Ultimaker 2Go, and an Ultimaker 2 Extended+.
To make the most interactive model we printed the tiles, strapwork, and mosaic pieces separately and in different colors, so that Girih patterns could be assembled using the three steps outlined below.
You can create your own Girih designs with 3D-printable tiles, strapwork lines, and mosaic pieces, in three steps.
- Step 1: Make a tesselating pattern with the five basic tile shapes - pentagons, decagons, rhombi, bowties, and irregular hexagons.
- Step 2: Each tile determines a strapwork pattern that passes through the midpoints of its edges. These strapwork patterns match up across all the tiles to make a woven design.
- Step 3: Cover up the original tiling by placing mosaic pieces between the strapwork lines to reveal a beautiful Girih design.
The following models are available for each of the five Girih tile shapes:
- Plain tiles - no strapwork
- Tiles with plain or fancy strapwork attached (switch filament for 2-color prints)
- Tiles with etched recesses to hold separately-printed strapwork pieces
- Snap-in plain or fancy strapwork pieces
- Mosiac pieces for adding at the last step, to cover up the original tessellation shapes
Download the demo files to print Girih tiles, strapwork, and mosaics with 40mm side lengths. Or use the Customizer if you want to change style, size, or clearances. You can also download the OpenSCAD file if you want to remix the code.
Basic information about Girih tiles
Online Girih pattern construction apps
Books about Girih tilings and Islamic art
Upper-level articles and resources