Workshop 5

Day 5, July 19th, 2019

volvelle or wheel chart is a type of slide chart, a paper construction with rotating parts. It is considered an early example of a paper analog computer. Volvelles have been produced to accommodate organization and calculation in many diverse subjects.

The Getty Museum, Decoding the Medieval VolvelleRHEAGAN MARTIN | JULY 23, 2015 
 “Volvelles were introduced to Europe in 1274 by artist and writer Ramón Llull, who worked in the Kingdom of Majorca (present-day Spain).”
Here’s how it works: Layered circles of parchment are held together at the center by a tie, allowing the user to rotate pointers to calculate the position of the sun (Solis) and moon (Luna) at different points throughout the year. A circle with letters in red also indicates the astrological sign associated with each period. A volvelle is a cousin of the astrolabe*. Volvelles are concentric paper or parchment circles used in medieval Europe to calculate the phases of the sun and moon, while astrolabes are instruments, often made of metal, used since antiquity to observe and calculate the position of celestial bodies. (Aside on etymology: Volvelle comes from the Latin verb volvere, to turn. It is occasionally seen spelled as vovelle, while its moving parts are sometimes referred to as rundells.)”


Workshop Title: 
The First Paper Analog Computers, Volvelles, (Part II: Reveal Information- Paper Prototypes)

Lesson Overview: Students explore volvelles, and their functions through images (including an image from a volvelle from France, late 16th-17th c. housed at the Chester Beatty) as well as an actual example of a contemporary volvelle. Students learn how to design and make a volvelle that reveals information. For this workshop, the content has been adjusted to participants’ age groups in order to sustain accessibility and interest (Reveal Information on vegetables and their nutrients or habitats). Students have the opportunity to choose their own topic, facts, and design if they prefer.
Author: Pantea Karimi


Subjects: Visual Arts and Natural Sciences

Main Resource: Chester Beatty Library Archives
Workshop Time: Morning: 10:30 to 1:00          Afternoon: 1:45 to 4:15

Age Groups:  Morning, 12-14    Afternoon: 15-17

Use of technology in the classroom:  Students are given the opportunity to explore volvelles and relevant topics on the internet using provided tablets.

·        Volvelles: volvelle or wheel chart is a type of slide chart, a paper construction with rotating parts 
·        Natural Science: a branch of science which deals with the physical world, e.g. physics, chemistry, geology, biology. The branch of knowledge which deals with the study of the physical world.

astrolabe is an ancient tool used in solving problems that involve time and the position of the Sun and stars. Astrolabes can be used in timekeeping, surveying, geography, and astronomy to name a few disciplines. One of its most well-known uses is navigation.
·        Develop Visual Literacy and explore historical archives
·        Develop a practicum based on the history of science through scientific manuscripts and
·        Explore the intersection of art and science
·        Use art as a tool to explore scientific content
·        Effectively use the art and science resources offered by the Chester Beatty Library

Learning Objectives:
·        Exercise and demonstrate the use of the elements of design
·        Use materials, tools and processes from a variety of media (drawing, sculpting, and craft)
·        Handle materials effectively
·        Create original works of art in a specific medium using specific content
·        Produce creative works that demonstrate innovation in concepts, formal language and/or materials
·        Describe, analyze and interpret created artwork
·        Demonstrate problem-solving skills by providing a step-by-step approach to specific issues in workshop projects
·        Learn and explore science through the lens of art

Materials: Mixed-media papers, preferably not smaller than 9x12 inches.
Drawing papers, 
pencil, eraser, scissors, ruler
Copies of images for inspiration (refer to the end of this document)
Copies of the prototype model for inspiration and to give ideas to students
Colored pencils, sharpies (black and assorted colors)
fasteners (for connecting various parts and for rotation)

Required time: 20 minutes: introduction- presentation
10 minutes sketching and pondering ideas
2 hours of lab time (students develop their own works)

Workshop Steps:

           step 1. Each student will be given a drawing paper to sketch primary ideas.
Step 2. Students use 1-2 mixed-media papers to create their volvelles: Students will use available templates in the classroom to trace the 2 volvelles circles and divisions on their mixed-media paper (see below for image 1, for the template. Teachers should copy image 1 for students to use. There are 2 circles that need to be traced separately and the opening needs to be cut out using a Xacto knife to reveal the information). Students tape this template to their mixed-media paper and trace each circle, 1 at the time and separately, using a pencil by "indentation." Students must indent the center of the circle each time to identify where the fastener must go through for joining the 2 circles. Process of indentation: Students need to press hard enough so that the volvelle's template creates an impression on the mixed-media paper. After they see the impression, students may trace it with a pencil or a pen to make the volvelle's traced lines darker.

Step3. Students add details such as numbers, illustrations, colors, texts, etc., according to their chosen subjects, to their traced volvelles and then cut 2 circles out. 
The volvelle reveals information about fruits and veggies. Information could be calories, vitamins, fibers, etc. 
Step 4. Students assemble the 2 circles using a fastener in the center to finish their volvelles

See images 1-12, below, for inspiration, templates and students' works

Students will be assessed on:
·        Use of creative ideas to design a volvelle that reveals intriguing information about a subject and good drawing skills.

Images for Inspiration and templates to be used in the classroom for students to trace:

Image 1.Volvelle template to be used in classrooms for students to trace their 2 circles and divisions.
The volvelle reveals information about fruits and veggies. Information could be calories, vitamins, fibers, etc. 

Circle 1

Circle 2

image 2, The final volvelle will look this

How does this volvelle work? 


Point the window toward a vegetable or a fruit to reveal nutrition facts, see the numbers in the window. Example: in the image, you can see the window is in front of the Carrot with its nutrition facts are revealed.

image 3.  The manuscript showcases volvelle and notes. France, late 16th-17th c. housed at the Chester Beatty Library. 

Image result for a vegetable volvelle

image 4, a volvelle that reveals 4 wonders of the world

Image 5, Astrolabe, Chester Beatty, Iran, 16th c.

Image result for Apian volvelles

Image 6, Astronomical Vovelle, from Astronomical and Medical Miscellany, English, late fourteenth century. The J. Paul Getty Museum, Ms. Ludwig XII 7, fol. 51Video courtesy of The J. Paul Getty Museum

Image result for Apian volvelles

Astronomicum Caesareum (The Astronomy of the Caesars), created by the German mathematician, and cartographer Peter Apian, is one of the most lavish books on astronomy of all time. This folio, printed over an eight-year period, contains detailed astrological and astronomical data and charts, including twenty-one movable disks called volvelles. The volvelles, sewn one atop another, can be rotated to align such givens as planetary positions and eclipses on calendars. This work was an important tool, employed to calculate future astrological/astronomical events. For example, the volvelle on the right, adorned with a many-headed dragon, can be rotated to predict solar eclipses, while its intricate counterpart on the left makes it possible to forecast full and partial eclipses of the moon.

Students' Works, Dublin, Ireland:

image 5, students chose Shrek, as the subject and reveals info about the movie

image 6, volvelle reveals information about skateboards

image 7, volvelle that reveals information about signs and paganism

image 8, volvelle that reveals information about a video game

image 9

image 10, volvelle that reveals best icecreams and the cities to have them around the world

image 11

image 12

Students' Works, Palo Alto, California, USA
       Age groups: 9-15
       Time for the workshop: 1hr and 30 minutes
       Students created their volvelles using the information     about fruits and vegetables

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