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Jan. 27, 2023

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Pieces of pi from ’round the world displayed at Kiggins

Vancouver fiber artist stitches together more than 1,800 digits from global community for Pi Day

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Sally Sellers, left, celebrates Pi Day with volunteers from The Pi Project at the Kiggins Theatre on Saturday.
Sally Sellers, left, celebrates Pi Day with volunteers from The Pi Project at the Kiggins Theatre on Saturday. Sellers collected and sewed together 1,800 digits of pi for the event. Photo Gallery

It seemed an impossible project. Irrational, even.

But then the numbers started coming in to Vancouver fiber artist Sally Sellers’ home. Some were sequined, some quilted, some embroidered, some drawn, and some dyed.

More than 1,800 digits of pi made their way to Sellers from across the globe in recognition of 2015’s ultimate Pi Day: March 14, 2015 at 9:26:53 a.m. Break down the digits and you get 3.141592653. For non-math lovers, that’s the first 10 digits of pi. The next time that happens will be in 2115.

Sellers has spent the last few weeks hurriedly stitching the Pi Ribbon together, and on Saturday, she and a team of volunteers draped the 1,350-foot-long piece around the Kiggins Theatre in downtown Vancouver.

In May, the Pi Ribbon will be displayed in the North Bank Gallery in downtown Vancouver, and there are still many digits to add, Sellers said.

“It’s still hard to grasp that it’s this long and we have so many more numbers to go,” Sellers said, gazing at the rainbow of numbers over her head.

The project began about a year ago, when Sellers decided she had to do something to commemorate the century’s most mathematical day. She put out the call on quilting forums and on her website for people to make their own digits and mail them to her.

Many came from out of country, including 375 from France. Some bore red, white and blue pens and the phrase “Je suis Charlie,” the slogan adopted by supporters of freedom of the press following the Jan. 7 attack on the offices of French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo.

Heather and Michael Lindberg of Felida visited the display to find the digits their children made. Michael Lindberg, a third-grade teacher at Felida Elementary School, used the special day to introduce his students to the concept of pi.

Though they didn’t make numbers for the ribbon, students created a “Pi-scape,” using digits of pi and wrote “Pi-kus,” poems with three syllables in the first line, one syllable in the second and four in the last, Michael Lindberg said.

“It’s not just some facetious little celebration,” he said. “There’s some real academic stuff you can do with it.”

Gov. Jay Inslee and Sen. Patty Murray also submitted numbers, as well as officers from the Vancouver Police Department and students from across the country. One precocious Massachusetts 9-year-old sent in a sparkling purple decimal point in January after noticing in photos online that the ribbon was missing one.

“Opening them up was like Christmas,” Sellers said. “How can you have this many people, and they’re all different? There are so many different voices.”

The Kiggins continued its celebration of Pi Day into the evening with a showing of “Pi,” a film written and directed by Darren Aronofsky.

The ribbon will go on display at North Bank Gallery on May 1, according to the gallery’s website.

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