Friday, 14 March 2014

learn: Paper Tesselation with Sally Fawcett

When I first saw a tessellation artwork by M.C. Escher, I was amazed.  'How does he do it?' I thought. Then I was shown a simple way to create an Escher-style tessellation.

This is a wonderful activity to do with children. Every child I have introduced to this artwork has been 'switched-on' to create. Mathematics meets Art, in a marvellously creative way.

Below I have shared the steps I followed to create a fish tessellation.

1. Start with a simple geometric shape of card that will tessellate. (Fits together without gaps, to cover a flat surface.) For this fish, I used a square.

2. Draw a line from top to bottom to form the fish's face. Cut along this line.

3. Tape the two pieces together.

4. Cut a fin shape out of the bottom of the fish.

5. Flip and slide the fin to the top and tape it. This will form a fish template.

6. Trace around fish and repeat in a tessellating pattern. You will need to flip the fish for each new row.

7. Decorate and admire!

This idea can be adapted to make other animals, monsters, birds, or even just an interesting shape. You don't have to start with a square, but I find it is the easiest. You can experiment with hexagons, triangles, rectangles, or any geometric shape that will tessellate.

Happy Creating!

See more of Sally's work at


  1. Thank you for sharing this process, Sally. I never heard of tessellation until this challenge. The challenge has opened up a great new world for me :)

  2. Thank you for this lovely refresher on tesselation. I might go play this afternoon and do something tesselated for my gallery aka the wardrobe door.

  3. That's brilliant! I'm going to try and do some tessellation art with my kids this week! :-)


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