Patchwork and Zebrafish


I love my work.  I never know what fascinating things I’m going to encounter and what unexpected diversions I’m going to take in a day and yesterday, day 4 of the ongoing project was the perfect example.  This little fish was going to play a starring role.




From time to time, a large parcel will arrive, containing the work of a student taking a creative arts certificate, for me to assess.  I never know what’s inside these parcels, don’t really know the student unless, as happens occasionally, I find myself assessing more than one module of their course.  On this occasion, I opened the box to find two lovely patchwork cushions, inspired by the student’s son’s work in marine biology.  The design was based on the nucleotide sequences of the zebra fish.


Thankfully, K  had explained the foundation for the design in her notes, so I was able to see how clever she’d been in choosing the inspiration for her work.  But having completed my assessment and packed the parcel up again, I wanted to know more.




I also recognised how much I’d learned about genetic sequences of this little fish already and thought I’d use it as the theme for page 4 of my journal, prepared as above.  I mulled over the possibilities and the design potential of the seemingly random lists of letters and thought they’d work well as a background.




I know I’d said that I wasn’t going to use my computer at all in this project, but I can break my own rules!  I went online and found the nucleotide sequence to print out before auditioning it on the page.

Too big.  Too heavy. 






I went back and printed it out on tissue paper instead.  (You know how to do that, don’t you?  Tape a piece of tissue to a normal sheet of printer paper and put it through the printer as usual.  Peel off the printed tissue and you’re done..)




I printed off a sheet of zebrafish at the same time, thinking that the tissue would look good over the piece of pearly card I’d glued on the foundation for this page (thanks, Jordi…that was in one of the lucky bags you’ve shared with me!)  It was finding this picture which sent me off on a whole new path of discovery.

Who knew about the importance of Zebrafish?  Not me!  But reading more, I could see the relevance of studying the genetics of this small fish and I was delighted that my curiosity had led me down this road.




Rather than use a slab of genetic code, I decided to cut it into strips, to align with those two coloured lines I’d zigzagged onto the foundation using my sewing machine.




I even tried to squeeze the strip under the stitches but soon gave up on that!




I stuck them down instead, and carried the lines of type over to the next page, because it seemed odd to cut them off mid sequence.




I mod-podged the tissue paper fish down over the pearly card, feeling cross that I not only managed to stick them upside down but also made a hole in it as well.  Grrrr. 




I auditioned a couple of wavy, watery lines created with a rubber stamp but rejected them, preferring to stick with the limited palette I’d got so far.




But I assembled the word “zebrafish” as the title for the page and tried it in a few places before settling on what I thought was the best position.




Last, I needed a little text block to explain the significance.  I’ve been using sticky labels from a packet of Martha Stewart designs, bought whilst on holiday in Utah.  But though I tried several positions, it just didn’t seem to fit.




My hero offered his opinion (when asked!) and agreed, it wasn’t right.  I quickly punched a circle, stamped a border with the same brick red ink as the title and thought it looked better.




Lastly, I stuck a larger sized fish over the hole in the tissue paper.




Finished.  Done.  Except that word “bra” keeps jumping out at me.  I might do something about that in a minute…


The creative process isn’t easy, is it?  But how pleased I am to learn more about and celebrate this little hero of a fish!

For Jane

For Jane

Day 2 – and I’m keeping up

Day 2 – and I’m keeping up