Sunday, August 20, 2017

Make an Eclipse Art Quilt! And Share it with NASA!

The good news: There's a once-in-99 years worldwide eclipse tomorrow! 

OK, that's not news, you knew that. What you might not know is that NASA is inviting people to make art quilts based on the event! The agency says, "You have until September 15, 2017 to complete your work, take a picture and upload it using #EclipseArtQuilt."  To learn more about the Eclipse Art Quilt project, go to

So now you may be thinking about whether you should photograph the eclipse. As a rule, it's a good idea for quilters to take their own photos to inspire their fiber art. But an eclipse may be the exception. You surely know that to protect your eyesight, you should not look at the eclipse without certified safety glasses. Taking direct photographs of the eclipse is also unsafe for your camera if it isn't outfitted with a solar filter. NASA's advice on safe eclipse photography is here. UPDATE: Even a cellphone selfie isn't safe for your eyes.

Fortunately, there's no compelling need to take your own photos. There are fantastic, abundant, royalty-free, and/or public domain eclipse pix - from the the past and tomorrow .

The American Astronomical Society (AAS) has a long page of royalty-free photographic images of solar eclipses, at  You can't use them for commercial purposes, and must credit the photographer. Here's a simple-but-elegant time lapse photo from the site, taken by Rick Fienberg/TravelQuest International/Wilderness Travel, who had front-row seats to the event on a cruise ship off the coast of Indonesia. 
Is that not awesome? I could imagine creating an image like on fabric, using a discharge method that pulls the dye out of dark fabrics. Discharging can be done with anything from bleach pens to low-fume  agents like DeCoulerant, which is carried by many quilt shops. Read more about discharging on Dharma Trading's informational webpage, here. 

Below is another amazing Rick Fienberg image, of what astronomers call the eclipses' "diamond ring". According to AAS, the ring "appears just before the beginning of totality, when a single bright point of sunlight — the diamond — shines through a deep valley on the Moon's limb (edge) and the inner corona — the ring — becomes visible." 
Again, I could see translating his image with bleach discharge on dark fabric. Or maybe with a process known as sunpainting, in keeping with the cosmic theme. Or painting on white fabric with black and grey paints, using Mickey Lawler's addictive SkyDyes approach. Or  improvisational cutting of grey and black batiks. 

Want to review more images? Tomorrow, there will be an onslaught. According to NASA, "Viewers around the world will be provided a wealth of images captured before, during, and after the eclipse by 11 spacecraft, at least three NASA aircraft, more than 50 high-altitude balloons, and the astronauts aboard the International Space Station – each offering a unique vantage point for the celestial event.....Never before will a celestial event be viewed by so many and explored from so many vantage points – from space, from the air, and from the ground..." 
(Above is a NASA image.) And what if you can't get outside during the eclipse? You'll be working, or sleeping, or not feeling well, or a caregiver? NASA is going to televise the whole thing! Learn more here

Just for fun, I decided to google "Eclipse Quilts," and here's what I came up with. First, this Main Street Market pattern (it doesn't look anything like NASA photography, but is spectacular), 
And this really cool pattern designed by Sandy Brawner of Quilt Country, right now on Etsy, here. (No financial affiliation with this company or any company in this blog post!) 
The classic quilt book Strips'n'Curves by Louisa Smith has a slew of eclipse-ish quilt projects. 
When  you think about it, an eclipse is a process by which a full circle becomes a partial circle, and then recovers. If that's not quilt fodder, I don't know what is. 

Finally, super-quilter Carol Bryer Fallert Gentry made a famous series of Corona quilts,  Corona 1, Corona 2, and Corona 3 in the 1980s. On second thought, these quilts are so magnificent that I would now like to heave my sewing machine out my window. (Fortunately, I live on the ground floor.) So maybe you should design and finish your eclipse quilt, share it with NASA, and THEN look at what Carol made!

For more ideas on using public-domain astronomy photographs in fiber arts page, check out this earlier blog post. 

UPDATE: Thanks to a tip a commenter, below, I learned that the National Quilt Museum in Paducah, KY is showing Fallert Gentry's famous Corona 2 quilt, in honor of the eclipse. You can see it on the museum's website, here (as well as at the link above, on the artist's website). The museum will close for 15 minutes at midday so staff and visitors can witness the event! 

UPDATE: Thanks to a friend, I learned of a spectacular raffle quilt made by members of the Madras United Methodist Church in Madras, Oregon. Proceeds from the raffle go to a local food pantry. Learn more about it here (scroll down). This image is from their website. The raffle ends August 22. 



  1. I sure do remember Carol's Corona quilts. I think they were the first machine quilted quilts to win first prize at Houston or some other big show. Magnificent!
    Not sure if I have time to make a quilt but be sure to show us yours.

    1. Of course I will, Norma! You may have time to do this, it's a quickie project with a close deadline!

  2. Caryl Breyer Fallert Gentry made a beautiful eclipse inspired quilt which is being shown at the National Quilt Museum in Paducah in honour of the eclipse.

    1. Thanks for the tip, CFAC. Do you know the title of the quilt?

    2. I figured it out, CFAC. Thank you for the tip! I added the info to the main article.


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