Monday, July 15, 2013

Rita's Cell: Protozoan or Protista?

Rita’s Cell:  Protozoan or Protista?
I was Zoology major at Eastern Illinois University so when Sara posted the July challenge word I thought she had been sensing my quilting karma. The Cell design popped out from under the microscope (that has a place of importance in our home) fully formed and demanding to be executed!  
 In 1958, my first Zoology text book was General Zoology by Tracy L. Storer, copyright, 1951. In those days at Eastern, text books were rented and not purchased, but you had the option of purchasing the book if you wished and it is sitting at my elbow as I work on this writing.  It was the ‘Bible’ of all things Zoology.
In my college years, the three organisms illustrated in my quilt were classified as Protozoa or one celled animals.  They all moved in some manner and therefore were classified as animals, not plants.  However, it was troubling that the Euglena contained chlorophyll, the same material that makes green plants green.  But classification is a continually evolving discipline as new discoveries are made.  Today, these little organisms are classified as Protists or microscopic, single celled organisms, neither plant nor animal.
The largest cell (bottom) is a Paramecium (Kingdom: Protista; Phylum: Ciliophora) and all members of this group have cilia, or short hairs which help them move.
The top left cell is a Euglena (Kingdom: Protista; Phylum: Euglenopyta) and this organism uses a long whip-like flagella to enable it to move.
The top right cell is an Amoeba (Kingdom: Protista; Phylum: Rhizopoda).  These organisms move by using extensions from their body called pseudopodia (false feet).  The pseudopodia bulge out, anchor to another surface and the inner material of the organism then flows into the extension.
The microscope image is from a photograph of an old microscope that has been printed onto fabric.  This microscope belonged to a close friend, Dr. Robert (Bobbie) Crosthwait (1934-2005), the first cardiac surgeon in Waco to do open heart surgery.  
The images of the three organisms were taken from my old Zoology book, traced onto fabric and hand embroidered.  A small bit of color was added to the organisms using colored pencils. The embroidery was then cut into a circle to represent the view from the eyepiece of the microscope and fused into the green background fabric.  The image of the microscope had fusible web applied to the back and was carefully cut from the fabric and fused onto the background.
Fun facts for The Cell added by Randy:
Can a camel go through the eye of a needle? Nope! But how many of Rita’s Cell critters can make it? The eye of a #7 betweens sewing needle is 0.35 mm (millimeters) wide (approximately). For you purest, that measurement is at a right angle to the shaft, not parallel to the shaft.
The Euglena measures approximately 50 microns in length and 14 microns in width.  It takes 1,000 microns to equal one millimeter – written as 1/1000 or 1:1000.
Finally the fun facts:
If you line up 14 Euglena – side by side – like a rank in a marching band – they could all swim through the eye of that needle at the same time.
The Paramecium comes in a variety of lengths but they are usually about .50 mm wide. This means not even ONE can swim through the eye of our needle. But that’s OK because, as Rita said, those little hair-like cilia are actually all over their outer body like tiny oars and that’s how they swim, so you don’t want them stuck in a needle eye anyway.
The Amoeba is a different story. If they have just a tiny slot in that eye, they would just make their false foot fit the space and flow right on through.
See – aren’t you smiling now?


  1. I am smiling, both because of Randy's "fun facts," because of Rita's amazing quilt, so interesting and eye-catching, and because of all that we've been taught in so few words!

  2. This is wonderful and thanks for the story/explanation. So fun!

  3. Rita, I always look forward to your zoology-themed quilts! I appreciated, too, your excellent explanation and Randy's humor! The use of the "historical" telescope was a perfect addition. Well done!

  4. Thank you for all of the info, clearly you are very passionate about the subject. I love the use of your friends' microscope, what a nice way to honor him.

  5. Zoology major and teacher, right?? I'm still smiling at the lesson and the fun facts!! Beautiful work on the "critters" and the composition and quilting. It is impressive!!!

  6. Cool Quilt! The microscope photo on fabric is great! What kind of printing technique did you use to get such a crisp, clear image? Ahh, needles and tiny organisms. With your facts I have better idea of what size they really are:)

    1. A photo of the microscope was printed using an ink jet printer on the commercial product, Timeless Treasures.

  7. Oh gosh ~ I enjoyed reading every bit of yours and Randy's narrative, which yes, did make me smile. :D Your quilt is a fine depiction of the cellular world. The microscope image printed out so realistically. Very nice piece.

  8. Fascinating facts...and I bet the cells were fun to create!

  9. Rita - gorgeous as always. I thought of you when I chose the theme and guessed you might enjoy it. I hope I get to see this up close. Randy did add a bit of extra enjoyment to the blog. I always loved looking at images of paramecium.

  10. Love reading your narrative,and love the quilt as well. Fine work, as always.