How was that Gödel, Escher, Bach carving made, and how can I do it at home?
May 16, 2008 9:10 AM   Subscribe

I've always been fascinated by this book cover for Gödel, Escher, Bach. Anybody know how the woodcarving was designed, how it was made and how I could perhaps make one myself?

Would it even be feasible to do by hand or a jigsaw? I have access to a jigsaw, but I'm not fantastically crafty

Thanks in advance.
posted by cog_nate to Media & Arts (5 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
There used to be a 3-D ambigram generator that would create a model of what you're looking for... but it's currently down. I wonder if the guy who runs that site will ever get it back up - here's the contact page.
posted by Metroid Baby at 9:26 AM on May 16, 2008

I am certain I recall the author (Doug Hofstadter) describing the woodcut somewhere inside the book itself.
A “GEB” and an “EGB” trip-let suspended in space, casting their symbolic shadows on three planes that meet at the corner of a room. (“Trip-let” is the name which I have given to blocks shaped in such a way that their shadows in three orthogonal directions are three different letters. The trip-let idea came to me in a flash one evening as I was trying to think how best to symbolize the unity of Gödel, Escher, and Bach by somehow fusing their names in a striking design. The two trip-lets shown on the cover were designed and made by me, using mainly a band saw, with an end mill for the holes; they are redwood, and are just under 4 inches on a side.)
posted by PercussivePaul at 9:28 AM on May 16, 2008

A friend of mine once did this as a gift, using the recipient's initials. As I recall, he did it by hand.
posted by ellenaim at 9:33 AM on May 16, 2008

From my perspective, with no experience, it would probably be easier to do with a coping saw. You'd probably need some nice chisels too.
posted by drezdn at 9:37 AM on May 16, 2008

Band saw/coping saw, drill, patience. Much much patience. Just draw one letter each on three different sides, then follow the lines.

With some letter combinations you'd have to be careful to not leave any parts unattached to main body, but for GEB I think you're safe.

Try making one out of a big chunk of styrofoam first for practice. It's a lot easier to cut, and cheaper than a big block of nice wood. Hell, you might just stick with foam and paint it when you're done.
posted by echo target at 10:56 AM on May 16, 2008

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