Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Other 71%

This past week, I had the fabulous opportunity to have lunch with my namesake, the amazing and inspiring Sylvia Earle. Since I've been spending most of my crafty time getting my quilts ready for the upcoming quilt show (sewing on hanging sleeves and labels--what fun!), I thought I'd share with you the second quilt I made, which was inspired by all the neat stuff in the ocean, and which will be going in the show.

I thought the "watercolor" table runner in the first quilt book I bought was a cool idea, but have never been a big fan of florals. However, I was finding lots of fun aquatic-themed quilt fabric and decided that I'd use this technique to make a marine science themed quilt, since that's my field.

I tried to put in as many nerdy details as I could.

A bacterium quilt square
A jellyfish and a machine-appliqu├ęd deep-sea anglerfish 

My very favorite part of the quilt are the hydrothermal vent worms.

Hydrothermal vents are totally awesome. Basically, they're jets of hot water (and by hot, I mean 600+ degrees F--it doesn't boil because the pressure is so great) in the freezing depths of the ocean. Most of the ocean floor is actually pretty much a wasteland--but in these places, there is an amazing variety of life, the most striking of which are hydrothermal vent worms. What's so cool about them is that sunlight doesn't penetrate the ocean to those depths (the vents can be up to three miles under the surface of the ocean), and until they were discovered in the 1970s no one had any idea it was even possible for life to exist without sunlight.

Some more pictures:
The white at the top left represents the ice caps.

There's that bacterium at the upper right. Many of the other fabrics in the quilt remind me of things like tiny algae, seaweed, and different kinds of bacteria.
This is the deep-ocean part of the quilt. There's a giant squid at the top left. Lots of animals in the deep ocean are red, hence all the red here.
Here you can see the seafloor. There's kelp and corals at the top left (OK, a bit of a juxtaposition there, but I had to fit everything in somehow!), and lots of sea life around them!

I quilted the majority of the quilt with a wave pattern, but around the edges I used blue and red sparkly thread to portray the thermohaline circulation.

The thermohaline circulation is the large-scale circulation of the oceans. "Thermo" of course means heat, and "haline" means salty because the temperature and the salt content of the water are what drive it (yes, the ocean is saltier in some places than in others!). Basically, cold salty water (sparkly blue thread) is denser than warm not-as-salty (sparkly red thread) water, so you end up with water from the surface of the ocean sinking down to the depths near the poles. That allows warm water from near the equator to flow in to fill its place--you know it as the Gulf Stream, and it keeps places like England habitable.

The title of the quilt comes from the fact only 29% of the Earth's surface is land, but we often forget about the other 71%, which is a pretty cool place.

1 comment:

  1. I was just looking at google images and came across your quilt. I love this quilt! It's beautiful, fabulous, amazing, and creative! Well done.