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The Mobius Sonata Story

For those not familiar with the term "mobius", it is a shape that was discovered by mathematician August Ferdinand Möbius in 1858. It refers to a shape that has only "one" edge and "one" surface. How is this possible? If you place your finger on any edge and trace along that edge, you would continue around the form two times, touching the entire edge surface, before returning to your starting point. The same would be true for any point on the surface. Therefore, what appears to be two edges and two surfaces, can be considered as one continuous edge and one continuous surface - intriguing isn’t it. Very simply, it is a loop with a twist.

This is one of my personal favorite pieces. In the early 1970’s, I was quite a daredevil on skis and I performed many back flip style jumps. Back then, the ultimate jump was referred to as a "mobius flip", a back flip with a complete twist. Before I ever developed the skill (and courage) to attempt the mobius flip, I badly injured my back and as a result never did perform such a feat (one of my life’s small disappointments). Conquering the "mobius" as a woodturning has given me as much pleasure as executing it on skis would have been.

Another amusing story associated with this piece involves its entry into a woodturning competition. A rule required that entries be primarily created on the lathe. The judges had not previously seen this technique and they decided that it could not have been done on a lathe and therefore they did not score the piece. The curved sections were completely shaped on the lathe as bottomless bowls, which were cut apart and re-joined in a different configuration. Even though the piece was mistakenly "passed up" by the judges, it still won the show’s "People’s Choice" award.

Regarding the piano motif, the Disney movie, "Fantasia", provided my initial inspiration.


Malcolm Tibbetts, 738 Modesto Ave, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150 malcolm@tahoeturner.com ©2004