Monday, January 15, 2018

Rita's Rock: Geology 104

Time:  Winter Quarter, 1958-1959

Place:  Eastern Illinois University, Charleston, Illinois

Scenario:  During this time in history, Biology majors, like myself (female), found little opportunity to teach what we loved, High School Biology.  For the most part, the teachers hired to teach these classes were also coaches.  Therefore, my adviser and head of the Zoology Department, Dr. Scruggs, suggested as many different science courses for my electives that could fit into my schedule so I would be qualified to teach a wide variety of High School science classes.  This decision proved invaluable over my 36-year teaching career.

During my Freshmen Winter Quarter, I found myself in Geology 104. Although there was no term paper, a rock collection was required.  The one you see on this quilt could well have been mine because we had to turn the collections into Dr. Chang in a partitioned box, each sample correctly labeled.

 For this Material Mavens post, I found photos of rock samples on line and printed them onto fabric using the ink jet printer.  The box was modeled after a “look through the window quilt pattern” for the depth dimension.  The rock sample photos were then cut out and placed in the “box”.  All the fabrics are fused onto the light background and then the quilting was done by stitching around and along the edge of all pieces.

The identification key:  1. Basalt   2. Anthracite Coal   3. Granite   4. Pumice   5. Diorite  
6. Limestone   7. Conglomerate   8. Schist   9. Shale   10. Marble   11. Breccia   12. Flint   13. Halite (rock salt)    14. Quartzite   15. Sandstone   16. Chert   17. Gneiss   18. Hematite   19. Obsidian  
20. Slate

Side note:  This was the time frame when I met this handsome young man, Randy, that worked in Owl Drug Store with my roommate, Barbara.

Side note 2: Dr. Chang’s first language was Chinese so he spoke with a very heavy accent.  It gave many of us guilty pleasure when Dr. Chang was describing the unique characteristics of the mineral, Schist (sample #8).


  1. Rita, we can always count on you to come up with a spectacular quilt! I love this quilt for so many reasons. One is that I, too, took geology in college, not because I wanted to teach science, but because someone told me that the class wasn't as challenging as chemistry or physics, and I'd already taken biology. I loved the set of rocks that we bought along with our text book. I've always wondered what I did with them! Anyway, count on YOU to teach us all something interesting. And also, count of you to depict the theme in a clever and beautifully constructed manner!

  2. Leave it to you, Rita, to do a perfect scientific quilt! I love rocks, although I don't recognize the names of them. I have collected rocks on our vacations and moved them with me to our new patio home. Thanks for this perfectly beautiful geology lesson and quilt!

  3. Oh my goodness. This is fantastic. I love it.

  4. As always a very successful quilt. The box of rocks is quite special. I certainly did not know the names of most of them.

  5. Oh My Gosh, Rita .... This is amazing ! Not only did you gorgeously depict your rock specimen(s), but the display box you built is perfect !
    I have a very soft spot in my heart for "Geology!" My Grandfather was a Geologist, and explored the Frozen Arctic for the U.S. Navy many decades ago. The samples he kept in his basement workshop were intriguing to us as kids, but were absolutely off limits....
    "Hands Off !" "Do Not Touch !" :-D

  6. My first thought was how did she find all those different fabrics. This is fantastic on so many levels! Very interesting how you combined your personal history, printing, and accurate depiction of the stones. I thoroughly enjoyed this quilt.

  7. Great story to go with a great quilt!