18 March 2021

#DrawnToGeoscience: Cross-stitching science

Posted by Shane Hanlon

#DrawnToGeoscience is a series of posts by artists who draw about science and explain their process and inspiration while also showcasing their pieces. Learn more about contributing. This week, Kara Prior.

Cross stitch of the bathymetry of the Great Lakes. Credit: Kara Prior

My grandmother taught me to cross stitch when I was in elementary school, and I stopped after a few years and came back to it in my late 20s (which seems to be a relatively common story for AFAB folks). I like it as a medium because I can spend a lot of time thinking about and playing with colors, and it’s easy to combine words, symbols, and picture elements.

Cross stitch allows me to make exactly replicable patterns (though it comes with a more pixelated look than other types of embroidery). I want to keep translating science information into a format that others can engage with creatively. At least a few families have used state geology patterns as part of their homeschooling curriculum this year, and that is the best compliment I could hope for.

I designed the pattern for this piece based on images from NOAA. I create map patterns by uploading outlines of the area into my pattern maker (like the Great Lakes or a U.S. state outline) and then drawing in the data (water depth, geologic age, ecoregion, or watershed name so far!). It took about a week to stitch onto 14 count aida.

I am working on building science based fiber art into my full time job. Currently I am on Etsy, and I’m working on building a Patreon so that I can focus on longer term projects and offer more patterns and content for free.

-Kara Prior is a scientist and cross stitcher. You can find her work here and here and follow her on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook