Jan 30, 2022

Astronaut Karen Nyberg, Quilter

From the words and beautiful art quilt of Karen Nyberg


"My latest art quilt is a tribute to the Space Shuttle program and the thousands of dedicated and passionate people who made it happen. 

I worked from a photo of the very last shuttle launch, STS-135, taken by photographer Smiley Pool as he documented the end of an amazing era of spaceflight  on July 8, 2011. 

I used fourteen different blue fabrics in the sky and foreground, one for each of the beautiful lives lost in a space shuttle accident."

Dick Scobee, Michael Smith, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Judith Resnik, Gregory Jarvis, Christa McAuliffe, Rick Husband, Willie McCool, Michael Anderson, Kalpana Chawla, David Brown, Laurel Clark, Ilan Ramon 

41” x 22”

#NASAdayofremembrance #spaceshuttle #challenger #columbia #artquilt #textileart #atlantis #sts135 #endofanera #discovery #endeavour

For those of you who did not follow Karen and her quilting space journey, here's a great YouTube link where she discusses the challenges she faced. 

Astronaut's Sewn-in-Space Star Shines at Quilt Festival | Space

' It can take somebody from every part of this world and find something that you have in common with them. And we really do have something in common with people from everywhere,"

 Nyberg told the festival attendees during a presentation about her experience quilting in space.

 "We received blocks from all over the world. There are quilters everywhere and there were people enthusiastic about this everywhere."

As tremendous as an achievement as the quilt made from around the world, the one square Nyberg that crafted while circling the planet turned out to be a challenge itself.

"It took me a long time for a number of reasons," Nyberg said, citing both a lack of advance planning for what she was going to make and her skills, or lack thereof, at hand-sewing as reasons.

And then there was the mechanics of quilting in space.

"I actually pried myself in my sleep station with my back against my sleeping bag and then my feet up [against the wall]," Nyberg described. "I had to have all of my supplies velcroed to the wall either on a velcro pad or inside ziplock bags to keep it all together."

Karen Nyberg launched with a spool of ivory thread, five needles and three "fat quarters" of fabric. What she could not bring were scissors.

"I had to use the scissors that were already there and they are not for cutting fabric," she stressed.

 "Cutting in space is the hardest thing. Imagine if you take a piece of fabric and hold it out in front of you [in the air]. Now, take your scissors and try to cut it and that is exactly what it is like. Because you can't lie it down on the floor, you can't use a rotary cutter, you just have to cut."

"So that was another challenge."

Read all about Karen's creation of a community quilting project resulting in a quilt featured at the Houston Quilt Festival.

Karen Nyberg is one amazing human, astronaut, woman, and quilter!

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Michele Bilyeu Creates With Heart and Hands as she shares her imaginative, magical, and healing journey from Alaska to Oregon. Creating, designing, sewing, quilting, and wildcrafting, from my heart and with my hands

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