Etsy genius Alicia Watkins has introduced us to an art medium we didn't know we were missing: the infinitely entertaining world of embroidered microbes.
From a cross-stitched rendering of streptococcus to a carefully placed portrait of T4 bacteriophage, Watkins creates clever homages to the minuscule (but slightly terrifying) world of viruses, bacteria, diseases and other single-cell organisms. You can find over 50 microbes in the archives of the artist's Etsy store, highlighting the various flagella and ribosomes of some of the world's tiniest villains.
The project, called "Common Microbes," began when a curious acquaintance commissioned Watkins to create stitched versions of the flu, mange, and E. coli. "They were so interesting to pattern and stitch, and fit in so well with what I try to do in my shop -- juxtapose the public and domestic, masculine and feminine, art and science and craft -- that I just kept going with them," Watkins explained to The Huffington Post.
According to Watkins, she didn't do very much research on the microbes themselves... at first. But that changed when she got an order for a malaria gametocyte and sporozoite set and realized she had no idea how malaria worked. Naturally, diving into the depths of microbe functioning sparked a new found personal interest, and the internet research began.
"There have been a few times when my own research has led me to microbes that have never been requested," she added. "But for the most part, I let myself be guided by what expert customers tell me they'd like, and then branch out on my own from there. It's been a very successful and informative approach, and it's always really interesting to hear about all the different work that's going on in the scientific or medical communities from the people who are actually doing the research."
"Obviously, when I opened my cross stitch shop, I wasn't thinking about becoming more scientifically literate, but I'm definitely very, very pleased that it's turned out that way."
Check out Watkins' art-meets-science brainchild below and let us know your thoughts on the series in the comments. For more on her work, see cross-stitchings and patterns available to purchase here.