Hafnium by Joan Huseth

Depicted on the quilt is a shell model of the electron rings with 2, 8, 18, 32, 10 and 2 electrons represented by beads. The silhouette under the organza rings is a map of Denmark, with Copenhagen marked by a red star. The gray Hf represents what the metal looks like.

Hafnium, atomic number 72, was discovered in 1923 by Dirk Coster and Georg C. von Hevesy. It was named for the Latin name for Copenhagen where is was discovered: Hafnia.

It is a lustrous, silvery ductile metal, one of the transition metals on the periodic table. Low abundance and difficult separation technique make it scarce. Most is used in production of control rods for nuclear reactors.


Manganese was discovered in 1774 by Johann Gahn and was named from the Latin mangnes, meaning magnet. This common compound is a very hard and brittle metal that is used in the production of iron, stainless steel and aluminum alloys. My depiction of Mn represents the manganese dendrites, also called pseudo-fossils, which form when manganese oxide crystallizes on rock surfaces in branching patterns. I applied metallic fabric paint on a gelatin mold and used arborvitae branches as a resist on black silk to create the design and then cut out the piece in the shape of one of my favorite states, Minnesota.


     Californium is a radioactive metal that has not been produced yet because its compounds resist reduction. It is readily expected to be attacked by air, steam and acids. Discovered in 1950, its atomic number is 98. A traditional quilt block The Road to California represents #98.  It was a road with many perils. I have great admiration for the ancestors who settled our country. I included cactus, oxen, antelope and a lone wagon to commemorate the journey. I think I watched  way too many episodes of Wagon Train growing up!


Chromium, a transition metal, is used in the production of stainless steel, in corrosion resistant platings and as a pigment in glass. We are more apt to think of it as the shiny parts of our cars and motorcycles.

The film carriers on this square are a nod to hexavalent chromium, which was used in the processing of the once popular Kodachrome 35mm slide film. Use of the film declined with the advance of digital photography and it was discontinued by Kodak in 2009.


Mercury is a silvery-white poisonous metal that’s liquid at room temperature. It has been in use since ancient times. Alchemists took its modern name from the fastest moving planet and the fleet-footed mythical Roman messenger of the gods, Mercury. It’s used in barometers, thermometers, mercury switches and other electrical applications such as mercury/vapor lamps.

Freddie Mercury, lead singer of  the rock group Queen, seems right at home riding the Mercury rocket. His on-stage persona was mercurial, his voice commanded us to listen. Long after his death from AIDS in 1991 he’s still garnering new fans. Real showmen are rare.


atomic model of Germanium

Germanium was discovered in 1886 and is obtained by refining copper, zinc or lead. It is used for making transistors for use in electronic devices and is also used in infrared optical instruments and infrared detectors. Germanium compounds are currently being studied for use in chemotherapy.

Detail showing the diodes attached, which are made with Germanium:


Clare Degerness

Platinum is one of the rarest elements in the earth’s crust. This scarcity makes it highly valuable, and thus it has become a symbol of noteworthy accomplishment: sale of over one million musical albums, 70 years of marriage, and extensive credit card spending. Although none of my ancestors reached this marriage milestone, and I do not have a chance of living long enough to do so, they celebrated their weddings in style and lived out their marriage vows for many years. Pictured along with my husband and me are my parents, my paternal grandparents and my maternal great-grandparents.


“Come on, rhenium, get the lead out!”

rhenium, Clare Degerness

This element was discovered in Germany and named after the Rhine River. One of the rarest elements in the earth’s crust, rhenium has an extremely high melting point and is used to construct high temperature turbine engines. It is also used as a catalyst in the production of lead-free, high-octane gasoline.