Sunday, April 17, 2011

Ribbed - but not for my pleasure

I said I'd explain myself, and I will. In chemistry, there are many types of arrows, each with a specific meaning. You can't just throw any old arrow in between two chemicals and expect it to make sense, each states something about the type of reaction. When you're planning a synthesis, you will generally perform what is called a retrosynthetic analysis, which sounds a lot more intimidating than it is. It basically means breaking down, on paper, your target to it's simpler components. Here's what a simple retrosynthetic analysis might look like, note the specific type of arrow - a retrosynthetic arrow.
Now we've got the explanations out of the way, I can get to the crafty goodness! I mentioned previously that this is the International year of Chemistry, and to celebrate this the School of Chemistry in my college is running an art exhibition, to which we were all invited to submit entries. The focus of the exhibtion is to highlight the chemistry and biochemistry of everyday materials, in such a way that everyone can understand. I thought a retrosynthetic pathway would be a neat way to take something everyday and break it down to it's chemical beginnings. I immediately thought of lanolin. Lanolin is produced in sheep's coats as a natural waterproofing agent, and as such is a by-product of wool production. Through the wonders of chemistry (and, >ahem<, chemists, thank you very much) this oil finds extensive use in cosmetics, topical pharamaceuticals such as burn cream, and even in heavy industry as a lubricant. This is pretty much what I'm trying to illustrate in the piece I'm making. There's going to be a bit of text detailing this in words, quite small, in one of the corners of the canvas, to reward close observers. I don't really know if this is the type of thing they were looking for in the exhibition, but I figured there'd be very few pieces utilizing textile arts such as embroidery, knitting and needle felting, so at the very least people should find it interesting. I haven't put in the aforementioned arrows yet, or the face and legs for the sheep on the right hand side, but you can see roughly where I'm headed.

This is all being done on a piece of soft cotton which will be attached to the canvas via hand stitching.
I'm having a very School of Chemistry orientated week, as I've finally cast on for a scarf that one of the technicians asked me to knit for him. He's quite old, and said he'd love to have a scarf made by someone who's worked where he's worked for so long. He specified only that it was to be red and green (I think it's a sport thing), so to keep costs for him down and also to make it easy for him to care for I picked up some acrylic at Feanor, my local friendly craft shop. I'm being nice and doing a 2x2 rib as opposed to just garter stitch, even though I don't really like switching back and forth between knit and purl so often. I'm using 2 strands held together to ensure speedy progress!
I'll be at home in Donegal next weekend, what with the Easter holidays, so I'll see you on Monday week. Hope you've all been out enjoying the awesome weather.

1 comment:

  1. LOL! You're such a geek, Michelle ;) Love your chemistry art piece. you could expand it and include dyes, or maybe leave it for the next instalment... there could be the whole series of chemistry in craft!