Sunday, September 17, 2017

Eclipse-o-mania: Cosmic Uses for Batik Scraps

Guess what, there's another eclipse tonight! I'm not kidding - scroll to the end of this article.

Inspired by this past August's solar eclipse, and the NASA #EclipseArtQuilt challenge, I aimed to make a quilt that would inspire quiet reverence for a natural phenomenon. Instead, I wound up with a batik tailgate party. Afterwards, extra batik and batik-esque circles and crescents were strewn about my cutting table, coffee table, ironing board, sewing room floor, kitchen floor, purse, socks, but not my hair. Dramatic recreation:
So I picked them up, dusted them off, and started arranging them on a blue background.
And, to make a long story short, I made the following. It's called, "There's Always an Eclipse Somewhere."

How do we love batiks? Let us count the ways! They're full of irregularities that give them an extra-terrestrial look. Especially batiks that are so splotchy that you don't know what else to do with them - they make terrific astronomical and astrogeological phenomena. Sunspots, craters, crevasses...

...atmospheric anomolies...

...purple mountain's majesty and amber waves of grain (oh wait, that's America)...
...shining seas...

...valleys rings, dorsa, promontorium...

... single-cell seeds of life, seas, arachnoids, domes...


...lava tubes, dark matter...

...channels and canals (built by mother nature or ET)...

(That yellow globe above is a bit of hand-painted fabric with experimental smears, arguably from brush cleaning.) It's so much fun to find strange parts you would otherwise discard, and cut planets around them. I stuck everything down lightly with a glue stick.
Then considered whether to throw a tulle net on top. Tulle can soften/hide edges of raw edge applique, and the hue can change the look of the quilt in unexpected ways. If you freemotion quilt on top of tulle (instead of directly on the cutouts), there's less concern about loose edges causing tangles and creases.

Let the testing begin. Black tulle:
Purple tulle: 
A vintage red organza scarf, full of runs:
The tests made me decide not to use tulle at all. That meant more pressure to do a neat zigzag around each shape. Used either matching or variegated rayon threads. I ignored the pressure and did a non-neat zigzag. 
By the time I finished the machine applique, it was already 5 pm, and I have a rule: Never FMQ (freemotion quilt) after 5, except in case of emergency potholder. From dusk forward, I make lousy decisions, monotonous dinners, and my handwriting decays worse than usual. FMQ is all about excellent handwriting. 

But I do let myself PRACTICE after 5 pm. I started out on paper. My first idea was freemotion sky motifs. 
Second, I tried freehanding five-pointed stars inside pentagons....
I liked that, so I tried it on dressmaker's tracing paper, using a watercolor marker (for easy removal in case ink leached through, which it didn't.) In process: 
....And after removing the quilt: 
Waaaaaayyy too fussy and small.  Need something simpler. 
Better. The next morning, I did a bit more pencil practice, then stitching practice, and finally, I went for it. 

 I like that it looks like "low poly" designs. I did a rolled-edge facing (favorite tutorial), and called it done!
When's the next big eclipse? TONIGHT! I learned in this morning's New York Times that a type of eclipse called a "lunar occultation" - the moon hiding planets and stars  - will take place from the evening of September 17, 2017, through tomorrow evening.  (Yes, the August  21 eclipse was also a lunar occulation.)

Depending on where you're located, the moon will briefly hide Venus, Mars and Mercury, and maybe Regulus, the brightest star in the Leo constellation. Read all about it in the New York Times here.  And then get out your batik scraps!

UPDATE: Amazing NASA images from Saturn/the Cassini mission are here. They're also crying out for a batik interpretation!


  1. Replies
    1. OMG Cathy, I have been off the computer most of the summer and missed your posts. As always I love your humor and your absolutely delightful posts. I can always count on you to make me smile. I was in Casper Wyoming for the Total Solar Eclipse and it was absolutely awesome.

    2. Maggie, you're an angel. I'm so not surprised you went for the total eclipse! I'm glad you're living life to the fullest, as always! Hugs!!!