Monday, January 30, 2012

Chemistry and Computer Science Gnomes

I am a bit incredulous that I only wrote two blog posts for January, not including this one. I've been better about reading other people's posts, even if I've only lurked. During the January 15 week of snow that shut down much of the city, I hung out with Lucia for most of the days, sewed, strummed guitar, and sewed some more. We walked in the snow quite a bit, too, and I was glad that we were able to visit a friend's house two miles away with no complaints from the girl about getting tired. It was during that week that I made this color wheel of flower basket babies.

 This past week, I decided it was time to make the chemistry gnome for my science and math gnomes series. I used a purple felt that the color swatch guide called "orchid" but that I deemed would have to serve as a shade of mauve. Mauve, named after the mallow flower, was the first dye created in the chemistry lab. Eighteen year old chemist Sir William Henry Perkin, was trying to synthesize quinine, when a particular purplish residue as a result of his work caught his attention. Perkin patented the dye and made his fortune, helped along by the popularity of Queen Victoria's mauve silk gown.

My attempts to embroider a mauveine molecule on the back of the doll's cape were abysmal. Hexagons are challenging to get right. Then, I thought about how important chemistry was in the kitchen, and decided that the sodium bicarbonate/baking soda molecule would be a fitting symbol for my chemistry gnome. After I completed that embroidery, I added little embroidery representations of carbonation fizz. That's why the chemistry gnome has a tassel-- it's more "fizz."
Chemistry Gnome with sodium bicarbonate skeletal molecule model
The computer science gnome is an homage to mathematician and "mother of computer science" Ada Lovelace, whose notes for Charles Babbage's analytical engine are considered to be the first computer algorithm. Lovelace loved bright colors, and the red of the gnome's cape was inspired by the portrait painted by Margaret Sarah Carpenter. I made felt gears for the cape, and framed the gears with zeros and ones, the binary numerical system used in computer coding. I thought about a circuit board motif, but decided that it would require green embroidery on a black background. 
I'm currently reading The Bride of Science: Romance, Reason, and Byron's Daughter, by Benjamin Woolley. I also have Ada: a Life and a Legacy, by Dorothy Stein, in my to-be-read piles.
Computer Science Gnome

There are still a few science gnomes I'd like to stitch. The Physics Gnome currently has me stumped. I know what I want to do with the Entymology Gnome, but I am saving that one because it will be fun to revisit the embroidery of insects. I'd like the Geology Gnome to make an appearance, too. Maybe it's time to learn some shading techniques?

6 comments:

tanita davis said...

I smiled because I caught the binary number thing just looking at the picture - and then smiled again, because clearly I have been around Tech Boy too long...

Baking soda! Fab idea. The Chemistry Gnome moonlights as the Baker...

Lone Star Ma said...

Wondrous! How is Bride of Science?

Таня Билаш said...

nice! cool!

Saints and Spinners said...

Thank you! Tanita, I thought of Tech Boy and you specifically when the baking soda molecule occurred to me.

LSM, the Lovelace biography is a lively and engaging read. So far, I'm still reading about the parents and their iffy courtship. I always knew Byron was "Mad, bad, and dangerous to know," but I hadn't paid close enough attention, even during my Romanticism and Criticism class. Byron really was a naughty, naughty man.

Lone Star Ma said...

I shall have to read it - what I thus far remember most about Saint Ada is her mom's determination to keep her far away from anything that could awake her father in her.

Jules at 7-Imp said...

Blaine will be interested in that Stein book. I will tell him about it!