Guest Tessellation Art Gallery

animal motif tessellation by mary sencabaugh
escher-style tessellation project by Mary S

by Mary Sencabaugh

This is a "translational" type tessellation, also called a "glide" tessellation. In the Heesch tessellation description system, it's called a TTTT or a TTTTTT because the motif is repeated in 4 directions without spinning or flipping-over, but the roughly rectangular tiles are offset like bricks in a wall, so they touch 6 other tiles the way hexagonal tiles do.

animal motif tessellation by mary sencabaughMost tessellations use color and/or thick dark outlines/borders. There're usually a single motif, or perhaps two motifs...say, a single bird or a single elephant, but not a bird AND an octopus AND an elephant. to let us know where one tile ends and the next begins. Ms. Sencabaugh, however, has given us a bit of a puzzle. She forces us to think hard in order to see where the repetitious tile shape begins and ends. You can see the repeated outline of the tessellation's tiles in the smaller version pictured below.

You can see more of her work (not 100% safe for children) at Note that there is no "www" in that address; the nickname blackmagdalena works instead of www, sending you directly to her gallery on the large website.

Ms. Sencabaugh tells us "I've been drawing all my life, and I'm currently a senior undergraduate physics major at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tennessee. The more I learn about art and math the more I realize how the two are beautifully interconnected in simultaneously simple and complex ways. Both disciplines have greatly increased my appreciation for the natural world.

I created the design for this piece by starting with a square of paper, then cutting out a shape in one side, and taping it onto the opposite side of the square, then tracing it repeatedly on a larger piece of paper. It is filled by hand with ball point pen."

On our website,, you can see a tutorial of the tessellation project technique she describes, but without the brick-like offset.

Below, I've inserted a blow-up of a detail of her work, so you can see the fine crosshatched detail she's achieved with just a humble black ballpoint pen.

excerpt of animal motif tessellation by mary sencabaugh