I guess I’ve let my science/crafty geek flag fly highly and proudly enough over the last several years, because I’ve had no fewer than five friends send me links to these amazing Large Hadron Collider Quilts in the last several days. I first saw them over on Boing Boing last week, and fell madly in love. Fiber artist Kate Findlay creates the quilts, and I’m charmed by the idea that she has “been living and dreaming and sleeping and eating hadron colliders.” Reading about her process makes me appreciate her work even more.
Findlay used traditional patchwork for her three earliest pieces, “Breakthrough,” “Inner Eye,” and “Does the Dark Matter?” Because of the way fabric moves, this technique makes creating circles a fiendish feat. After six to eight weeks of sewing, and down to the final piece, she says, “My heart was absolutely in my mouth.” Until she finished, she had no idea whether everything would line up and lie flat. Her other quilts are done with appliqué, a collage-like style of attaching pieces. Most are about 60 by 60 centimeters and take 10-14 days to complete, though she has made a few larger, 130-by-130-centimeter quilts as well. Findlay uses unconventional fabrics, lots of metallic, shiny bits or sheers, along with beads, sequins, cardboard, and even barbecue skewers, which she inserts along the back to add rigidity. “I started using everything and anything to achieve the effect I wanted,” she says. “Sometimes you realize you’ve just found the perfect medium. I feel I can get the effects I want with fabric.”