The Pi day label adventure


2015 had a very special Pi day. In a normal year, Pi day is March 14, or 3.14; pi accurate to two digits after the decimal point. This year, it was 3.1415 (March 14, 2015), good for four digits after the decimal.

However, if you append the time 9:27 you’ve got 7 digits, and if you are willing to venture into the sub-second realm you can have pi to as many digits as you like–though you’ll have to celebrate fast.

It seemed obvious that this special event called not only for a distinctive instrument, but for a special instrument label as well, which of course required research, which involved making and eating pie–excellent!


Berry pies gave good contrast, that decision was easy, but it wasn’t easy getting the right size of pi symbol along with a nice ripple to the edge, attractive browning, and not too much overflow of filling.

This next pie yielded the photo for the label, but just a couple minutes later the pi symbols were overflowing and the pie was good only for…eating. How sad.


Graphic designer Julie Weiss and I blended the photo with a trigonometry “unit circle” and my logo to create the label. It took many iterations to balance the photo, unit circle, and logo just right, and a few trips to the printer to get it onto a suitable paper.

Finally we had the right label. After signing and dating it, applying glue, gingerly slipping it through the soundhole and pressing it into place, I leaned back to admire the work only to notice a little problem–the wrong year. Sinking feeling, possibly some choice commentary. If only I’d had the label back on Pi day just before I closed up the body, when labels are commonly (though not always) installed. At least I’ve got the labels for future years.

Fortunately I used a reversible glue to install the label, and with a little persuasion it came back out:


The final result, in Richard Parker, the 2015 Pi day special edition ukulele: