This microscopic image is cocaine.
I found it while researching images for this quarter’s Four-in-Art challenge of “microscopic.” The overarching theme is color, so of course, I was drawn to this as an idea for a quilt, hating what I’d already started piecing a couple of days ago. As any good grad student knows, the best way to postpone the inevitable work on a deadline is to do more research.
The image of cocaine is from a website run by Michael Davidson, who recently passed away. But he would take the images from his laboratory’s microscope and use them to make neckties. I thought we could keep going and use them to make quilts.
This is nickel oxide on sodium chloride, an image from his website. After exploring his butterfly gallery, I moved on to the pharmaceutical section, and noticed that not only were Mr. Davidson and his team a whiz with microscopy, they also had a sense of humor, as witnessed by the last line in the description of caffeine:
To quote: “Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant most commonly found in the coffee we drink every morning….Symptoms of overdose include insomnia, restlessness, tremor, delirium, tachycardia, and running of the mouth.”
Taxol, a drug used in chemotherapy. I’ve pinned quite a few of these to my Pinterest Board Art Quilts, as they will become the inspiration for this quarter’s efforts.
Not only was wandering through the internets a way to spark my creativity for this month’s looming deadline (to be published on Feb. 1st), but also I allowed myself to
goof off do the research because of an article recently published in the New York Times about Serendipity, or more specifically, “How to Cultivate the Art of Serendipity,” by Pagan Kennedy. She talked first about the word’s origins, noting that we “think of serendipity as something like dumb luck.” But it was coined in 1754, when Horace Walpole noted that he “had been entranced by a Persian fairy tale about three princes from the Isle of Serendip who possess superpowers of observation.” In writing a letter to a friend, “Walpole suggested that this old tale contained a crucial idea about human genius: ‘As their highnesses travelled, they were always making discoveries, by accident and sagacity, of things which they were not in quest of.’ And he proposed a new word — “serendipity” — to describe this princely talent for detective work.” So, as Kennedy notes, the word meant “a skill rather than a random stroke of good fortune.”
She quotes Sanda Erdelez, a University of Missouri information scientist, who divides serendipitsts into three groups: ” ‘non-encounterers’ ” or people who see “through a tight focus, a kind of chink hole, and they tended to stick to their to-do lists when searching for information rather than wandering off into the margins. Other people were “occasional encounterers,” who stumbled into moments of serendipity now and then. Most interesting were the “super-encounterers,” who reported that happy surprises popped up wherever they looked. The super-encounterers loved to spend an afternoon hunting through, say, a Victorian journal on cattle breeding, in part, because they counted on finding treasures in the oddest places. In fact, they were so addicted to prospecting that they would find information for friends and colleagues.”
So, maybe in “researching” my Four-in-Art quilt, I’m just really being a super-encounterer, finding that “happy surprises” pop up with each click of the mouse button.
Or maybe, I am just putting off the inevitable: getting the work done.
Four-in-Art Microscopy. Coming soon to a blog near you. Premiering February 1st, 2016.
P.S. Pagan Kennedy has written a new book, titled Inventology. The blurb from her website says “Inventology is a must-read for anyone who is curious about creativity and imaginative leaps.”