Fungi embroidery (aka combining my nerdy passions)

This is either going to make my labmates really jealous or confirm once and for all that I’m juuuust a little crazy.  Any bets?  : )  All I have to say is that if I love embroidery AND I love working with fungi in the lab, why not combine them into one hell of a decoration for my desk?  It’s the logical decision.  As usual with my little embroidery projects, I’m completely in love with this piece.  It’s simple, adorable, and totally me.  : )

A little background: I’m a full-time PhD student and am working with fungi for my dissertation project.  I often refer to these lovable organisms as “my furry friends,” since thus far they have behaving quite well for me.  The pink lines in the bottom half of the piece are fungal hyphae (“arms”), and the brown stars are manganese oxides that our particular fungal strains produce.  Truth be told, I’m pretty happy with my artistic rendering of both the hyphae and oxides.  Here’s the real thing for comparison:

Pretty cool, huh??  : )

Anyway, back to the embroidery!  I took a handful of in-progress shots along the way.  Below you can see the traced pattern based on my original pencil-and-paper sketch [left], the hyphae (parallel lines of split stitch in 3 colors) and half-finished oxides (daisy stitch over cross stitch) [center], and some of the completed text (backstitch) [right].  Click on any image for a larger version.


I was kind of making things up as I went along… you know, this just adds to the thrill of embroidery, haha.  For the large text, I wound up using split stitch (with three strands of floss) for the outlines and a simple running stitch (with all six strands of the floss) to fill in the insides a bit.  The letters came out a little uneven, but I keep telling myself that imperfections are what makes handmade items so “charming,” right?

Here’s an extreme close-up (movie reference, anyone?) of some of the lettering.  (If these letters were a president, they’d be Babe-raham Lincoln…)

And an extreme close-up of the oxides.  I like the red and yellow stitching in the background to add little bits of color, as opposed to having them just plain brown.  Here you can also see the split-stitch hyphae (with just two strands of floss instead of three) in white, pink, and yellow.  Note the gratuitous white Maggie fur “decorating” the stitching here.  Ahem.  : )

And of course, the back!  I’ve got nothing to hide here, people.  The back isn’t all that exciting since the piece isn’t very crowded, but here you go.  Full disclosure!

One final view of the entire piece.  When they finally cart me off to the mental institution, you can use this post as evidence that despite my crazy embroidery+fungi obsession, at least I can still (a) write coherently, and (b) operate a simple camera.  See?  I’m not that crazy, I swear!

As you can see, I haven’t yet trimmed the excess fabric and glued it to the back of the hoop.  Alas, I only have one 6-inch hoop and have been re-using it for a handful of projects.  Once I pick up a few more hoops I can finish off the piece and hang it up in my office.  Can’t wait to show this off to my labmates, ha!  I can already hear the groans…

One last comment on this piece: it went super quickly!  This guy only took me about two evenings after work and a few hours over the weekend.  Wham bam, thank you…. fungi?  Something like that.

Yay fungi embroidery!  Any other ideas for science-inspired embroidery?  Check out this and this!

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