Saturday, July 4, 2015

More DNA

Its Baylor College of Medicine Graduate Student's Art Show/Auction time again. Last year I didn't get anything done in time to enter, but in the past, small biology/DNA stuff has been popular. I've been playing with using hexies to represent DNA (see also Cardiac DNA) and thought I would try a few simple ones (Qube-Quilts) that represent the sequences that code (or could code) for tri-peptides (three amino acid mini-proteins) that have physiologic function.

Wikipedia lists a few examples of tri-peptides, including:
For no particular reason, I decided to start with GSH (glutathione), and IPP (isoleucine-proline-proline), with GHK and TRH as backups. The next thing was to get the DNA sequence that might code for these. Some amino acids have several possible codons so I used a DNA codon table to pick combinations that were 'pretty'. The real sequences might differ but realism only goes so far, and then art takes over.

I used EQ7 to lay out the colors and to try out different arrangements. I used complementary colors (green, purple) to represent the two DNA base pairs (i.e. purples for A:T vs greens for G:C), and light shades for the pyrimidines (T,C), and dark shades for the purines (A, G) or vice versa. Fabrics are Moda solids (I think I like the solids best), and small scale tone-on-tone prints.

Hexies (3/4 inch on a side) were prepped using Sewline washable glue stick, instead of stitching or basting, to temporarily hold the fabric to the hexagon card stock. This was really fast and was not too difficult to remove. The secret is to use as little glue as possible. There are 18 hexagons in each little quilt and I have 4 quilts planned. It only took a couple of hours to prep them all.

The next thing was to stitch the hexagons together to form the sequence. I used Superior Kimono Silk. This is a very thin, strong, smooth thread. It was great to work with. The result is a freestanding piece that is positioned on a back ground fabric and appliqued in place with an invisible thread like Superior Monopoly using a very narrow zigzag. When the shape is firmly appliqued in place, then I snip the back and cut away the background behind the applique. This exposes and allows removal of the paper hexagons.
Back of another project showing cutting away behind the applique.
After layering up each piece (top is a pale hand dye from Frieda Anderson, backing is a purple polka dot from Marcia Derse), I used a flex-curve to layout sweeping curves to demarcate areas for different quilting motifs (marked with disappearing clover fine line), and I also marked the initials of the peptide name using a light box and a printout of huge letters in stencil font.

The sweeping curves (walking foot) and outer sections (free motion) were quilted with lime green aurifil on the top and a dark purple auriful in the bobbin. For the matchstick and stipple quilting, I switched to a pale purple Invisifil (Wonderfil) on the top and a light purple Bottomline (Superior) in the bobbin. I sometimes have problems with invisifil breaking or shredding, but this time is worked with no problems. Matchstick quilting was done free-hand, with only a couple of reference lines marked to keep things vertical. The fine match-sticks show the letters in relief, which I think looks pretty cool (see We <3 Pam for another example).

GSH -- Top IPP -- Top

Since these are going to be for sale in the art show, I wanted to be sure that buyers know what the quilt is about and to provide an easy way to hang the quilt. I used the corner triangle method and added label information to one of the triangles.
GSH -- Back IPP -- Back

I love how these turned out and hope someone else will love them too. The next ones will be blue/turquoise and orange/yellow, and I'm looking forward to starting on them. The units are prepped -- now they just have to be pieced together.

Unfortunately, they won't get done in time for this year's Art Show.

Thanks for stopping by ... (comments are much appreciated).


Since I've only finished two peptides and the others are in progress, I'm linking up with .