Thursday, August 6, 2015

New Project: Healing Quilts

I'm so excited to finally be starting on a new project.  My big quilt with the tiles I've been working on for so long is finished and the show entries are done!  It's not 100% finished since I still have to make a label, but that's it.  We're supposed to hear the results from the show by the end of August, so if I don't get in, I'll be sharing a final post about the tile quilt then.

In the meantime I'm starting an entry for one of our upcoming SAQA regional shows.   This is the call for entry:

"Since the dawn of history, humans have used plants and animals to cure the sick, heal wounds, and promote health.  Our challenge is to represent one or more of these items, in a representational or abstract way, on a quilt that is 20” wide by 30” tall. You may find inspiration in traditional or modern medicine."

As a scientist, I'm definitely taking the modern medicine route, and my topic is knockout/knockin mice.  Studying human diseases in model organisms has revolutionized our understanding of what causes human disease and develop new treatments. Since I work in vision research, my piece is going to feature interpretations of fluorescein angiograms (basically an image of the blood vessels in the back of the eye) from mouse eyes with different blinding human diseases including diabetic retinopathy and macular dystrophy.

These are the angiograms I'm starting with, captured from our mouse eyes in the lab.

Diabetic Retinopathy Model

Macular Dystrophy Model

Wild-type Mouse
I've decided to switch color palettes, mostly because I got a bunch of enamels from my grandfather (the small jars you'd use to paint model trains), and there are some really fabulous metallics.  I started painting last night, and I've never used oil based paints like this on fabric. They went on smoothly, but I think they're really meant for impermeable surfaces, and I have no idea how they'll be when quilting.  I really like the sheen and sparkle in the metallic colors though so I hope they quilt well- I'd love to be able to use them in future pieces.

Here are the two I've started so far:

Incidentally, this pretty grey/blue fabric is a hand dye my mom made and was nice enough to share (the mottled look is perfect for this).

So have any of you used oil-based paints or enamels on your quilts/fabric art before?  What have your experiences been?

Linking up with Nina-Marie as always!


  1. Your mother did a great job. The paint is so beautiful on this fabric. Love to come back and see more.

    1. Thanks so much! It was fun to have a good background to paint on. I wish I dyed more, but it's just not something I'm really set up for.