Making stem cells

Since I have not been working on anything but packing and getting ready for our trip I thought I would show the process I used to create these cellular themed pieces last year.

First I found an image from the internet of stem cells and printed it out the size I wanted to work. I taped the 8 1/2 x 11 pages together and laid a piece of tracing paper over the top and traced the outline of the stem cells.

I put my outline drawing on a light box and put the fabric I would use for the back of the piece on top and traced the lines with chalk. Next I put this fabric on a piece of white cotton batting and stitched with the sewing machine over all the chalked lines with a straight stitch.
I turned the layers over so the batting was now face up and began to paint the stem cells with textile paint on the batting having my sewn lines as a guide,
I built up the shading with Tsukineko inks. Their transparent color is perfect for that. Then I cut away all the white spaces in the batting around the stem cell painting.
Then I layered the lacy painted batting on a blood red colored piece of hand dyed fabric, a piece of wool batting and another piece of fabric for the back.
I satin stitched around the edges of the batting with gold thread and free motion quilted in the dark red spaces to flatten it and make it visually recede.
Finished stem cells.

This is the image I found and used as inspiration for the nerve cells.
I had a piece of fabric that I had hand dyed a few years ago that looked like nerve cells to me. So half the work was already done. Using Tsukineko inks I drew a few cell shapes on it with white and a dark green with a little shading in purple.
I quilted it using clear monofilament thread, this gave it dimension and no strong outlines of color. The monofilament catches the light and makes little sparkles which seems very appropriate.

18 Responses to “Making stem cells”

  1. KNITTING ART says:

    I liked your all works.
    Thanks for sharig them here.
    Hope to hear you soon.

  2. Nirmala says:

    Wow! That’s so cool! Have fun in Maine. It’s absolutely beautiful.

  3. Alice I. says:

    Oh, Judy!! I am in awe of your work…….no other way to put it. Teaching must certainly be next of things to do for you. If your instruction were available to me, I’d say a basics on fabric painting, and a beginner-type piece to learn on…….I’d be there in a heartbeat! You rock!

    Alice I.
    Central Maryland

  4. Tarun Savla says:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. GG says:

    I truly cannot see how people think of things like this. I had fancied myself as fairly creative, but I often can clearly see I overestimate myself. Quilting seems quite a lovely pastime. For me, however, maybe I find enjoyment with mere results.

  6. Your work on stem cells is awe-inspiring. I have written on this topic on many occasions, trying to explain to people how sacred these cells are, how they are the very fabric of life itself, and how they are the work of God and not to be tampered with by scientists. As an artist you have shown their sheer awesomeness. The nerve cells especially, almost make me cry to look at them. I guess it’s because, as an artist, I am a fairly nervous person 🙂 … but thanks anyway. Your work is without comment or lecture, each one can draw his or her own conclusion from it.
    This is what it means to me.

  7. arlee says:

    WOW those are astounding–amazing how something so “scientific” can be interpreted so beautifully! Thank you for sharing your process as well.

  8. and to think in a past life, batting was only ‘seen’ as Santas beard.

    You don’t mention how you liked painting on the batt, would you do it again? I think it’s a grand idea, but I will wait to read your thoughts on it…

  9. carrie says:

    Thank you very much for sharing your process, with such beautiful results

  10. Vicky, I have painted on batting many times. If you look in my gallery of art quilts I beleive there are about 3 pieces using batting in this way. The most notable one would be the Lichen peice. The large 3 dimensional lichen is painted, machine stitched batting and the yellow lichen on the rock below is too. There are also two small peices about 9 x 11 that were my first experiments done about 6 years ago. one is blue with a fuzzy edge and the other is a spiky plant form with beads. painted batting makes is a wonderful surface for stitching and embellishing with beads.

  11. zquilts says:

    Theses are just too fabulous !
    Travel safe.


    This is a weird post and I hope you don’t think I am totally crazy. I found the above link of an intergrated computer chip today while doing research at work. I was totally inspired by it, but since I have no artistic ablity, I saved it and went on with my day. Then I came across your site looking for cool blogs and saw your amazing work, especially the stem cells. I thought you might be somehow inspired by it and felt compelled to send it to you. I hope it is of use. If not, keep up the incredible work.

  13. Joy Logan says:

    Whew knew what wonderful designs were there to be found! Amazing pieces nice blog wonderful art!

  14. bad-dog says:

    My friend, with whom I’ve done several collaborative exhibits, is a visual artist in Tokyo who’s been working with a cell theme for many years!
    You can check out his work at:

    Very cool!

  15. this is amazing!i randomly surfed onto your page, i am in awe… i also have a keen interest in the workings of our wonderful human bodies & this is like a tribute to how amazing it can be! but also very beautiful… I would love to learn to quilt, i’ve wanted to for years but noone to teach me or anything. it’s not very popular this side of the world – i wouldn’t know where to start!
    x tasj

  16. Minoos says:

    wow! its wonderful

  17. wicked gardener
    that computer chip image looks just like a quilt.

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