Friday, August 21, 2015

Two Blind Mice and a Wild-Type- Finished!

On Wednesday I shared my progress on this piece and I'm pleased to say that with application and lots of hand stitching, I've gotten it finished.  Many thanks to Mike for taking the final pictures.  I'd left off with having to figure out how to widen the piece to the final desired size, and I decided to go with some cutwork panels since that's worked for me before (in my little fish quilt and my big tree quilt).  To echo the vasculature in the panels, I traced the main blood vessels from each picture onto a piece of metallic beige polyester.  I know that sounds gross, but in person it's nice and shiny without being in-your-face-gold. Unfortunately I didn't take any pictures until I'd quilted it (polyester batting and backing), cut it out and fused the edges with my wood burner, but you can see it pinned up to the left of the panels just below.

I decided I wanted the panels to be on both sides, so I carefully cut it into two pieces, trimmed it to size, and then bound around all the edges.  In the picture below I was applying the final binding to the top and bottom.  

Because in lots of places where it was cut out the binding just wrapped back around on itself, I had to be very precise with the binding, something I'm not usually very good at.  I also went ahead and added interfacing to the binding because it was the same slippery polyester I used for the cutwork pieces and I knew it would be a pain to work with.  

The final challenge was figuring out how not to have the corners sag.  Usually the hanging pocket stretches across the whole back, but in this case that wasn't feasible since the sides were open.  And since the only thing holding up those two side panels is a tiny strip of binding, the corners/sides flopped terribly.  I finally resolved it by embedding the top binding with a ~6" piece of wire coat hanger on each side.  You can't see it at all since it's completely under the binding, but it bridges that floppy section and stabilizes the top.

Two Blind Mice and a Wild-Type, 2015, 20 x 30 c. Shannon Conley

I'm so excited with how this turned out-  it was really the perfect antidote to the months of trudging that I did on my other recent finish.  

The statement for the quilt reads:  Knockout and knockin mice are genetically engineered to carry mutations in their genome to model debilitating diseases, critical since it is difficult to study many diseases in human patients. The scientific and medical advancements that have resulted from use of these models cannot be overstated. This quilt re-interprets my fluorescein angiograms--pictures of the blood vessels in the eye--from mice with diabetic retinopathy (top) and macular dystrophy (bottom), as well as their normal or wild-type counterpart (middle). We use these specialized mice to study the pathobiological mechanisms associated with these blinding retinal degenerations and to develop and test novel treatments.

The Healing Quilts show is opening this fall sometime at a church in Albuquerque (I'll share more details when I have them), but thanks to the tireless efforts of our SAQA regional exhibition coordinator, I think it's going to travel as well.  Most excitingly, a subset of the show (20 quilts) will get to travel to the NIH to hang there!  So cool!

I'm linking up with Nina-Marie as always and also and Richard and Tanya.


  1. This is fabulous. First the story behind the quilt reminds us that we would be nowhere without animal testing. Second the cutwork frame is fantastic and will bring people in even closer to get a good look......with their healthy eyes!

  2. So creative, using the angiograms you see at work as the basis of a very beautiful and unique piece of art. Love love love the cutwork borders too. I too am a scientist (chemist) and a quilter, and I see lots of beauty in my field that I would like to interpret into art - just gotta get on it!

    1. Thanks Karen! I always thought I wouldn't use my science in my quilts- but I seem to come back to it again and again. Just so many great ideas to interpret in fabric!

  3. This is another amazing quilt! It stands on its own as beautiful, but the story behind it makes it even more interesting. I love the cutwork borders.

  4. Everything about this piece comes together as cohesive, fascinating whole. It is the type of artwork I can look at for long periods of time and come back over and over again - always discovering something new. Perhaps sometime you would be willing to share the technical details of how you cut, then bound and what you have devised to hang it.

  5. I found this through Nina-Marie's Off-the-Wall Friday, and want to echo what all the above said! I recognized retinas immediately (perhaps clued in by the title) and enjoyed reading the explanation. Even better was reading the development and why the beading and layers! This is a very meaningful piece.

    I have added you to my blog feed, and am looking forward to further pieces.