About The Project

On display at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks, ND during Quilting on the Red, October, 2013

On display at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks, ND during Quilting on the Red, October, 2013

Project curator Kim Baird talks about how this project came to be.

Most people are at least a bit familiar with the periodic table. It was hanging on the wall in high school chemistry class. For me, that was in 1970, and I remember it as a sort of telephone directory of the chemical elements.

When my art quilt group decided to portray some of the elements in fabric, and arrange them in our own version of the PT, we were attracted by the shape of it. Like patchwork quilts, it’s made up of squares joined together.

We didn’t realize what an adventure this project would become. We started reading about the table and the elements to get inspiration for our designs. What we found was wonderful stories about people, cultures, history, art and politics. Oh, and science. With each new element we made, we became more creative in our interpretations. At our monthly meetings, we shared our progress and amazed each other with scientific knowledge and creative and colorful ways to represent yet another silvery-white metallic element.

Fairly early in the project, we realized we wanted to make all 118 elements and exhibit a complete Periodic Table. The size of the undertaking was a bit daunting: could we really make so many 11-inch quilts? About the time we had completed 50 or so, we started wishing there were more. The combination of science, art, learning and working together has become so fascinating and absorbing that we are already wondering what to do next, to keep this momentum going.

The Designing Quilters group was formed to encourage its members, all traditional quilters, to explore the possibilities of original design. We are located in the Red River Valley of the North, a place as flat as any quilt.

Joining us in this project are the DIVAS, a similar group from Alexandria, MN.

NEW! large posterof the whole project in PDF format

2 thoughts on “About The Project

  1. Maria M Muto-Porter says:

    I love this idea. Any time you can combine science and art, both sides benefit. This could be a project with many dimensions – drawing, photography, embroidery, writing, collage, and more. It would also make a great class project to help students think beyond the chemical symbols to the meaning of each element – not to do a quilt, but some kind of representation. It’s an amazing idea. For other sources, how about reinventing the tarot, or astrological symbols, or the constellations and/or planets with incorporating some of the stories behind them. There are also the 50 states and many countries. I’m sure you’ve thought of many things to tackle next. I just wanted to put in my two cents. I wish I lived close enough to join your group. I like the way you all think!

    • I wish you lived closer, too.
      Actually, some schools have used a drawing project like this to explore the periodic table.
      I know we all gained a greater understanding and appreciation by working together on this for a year.
      We’d struggled to find another source of inspiration as deep as this one. Your suggestions are appreciated.
      Kim Baird

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