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Macramé Periodic Table

Periodic table celebrating IYPT2019 coming to School of Chemistry Doors Open Day
Jane with her father Nevin © Grahame Larter

Jane Stewart is the daughter of two University of Edinburgh School of Chemistry PhD alumni. She has created a unique celebration of the International Year of the Periodic Table (IYPT2019) – in the form of a macramé version of one of the most influential achievements in modern science.

The extraordinary feat took Jane a staggering 350 hours and features 200,000 knots, which she completed at her Guildford home. Jane is a university of Surrey biochemistry graduate.

The work of art has had a starring role in the International Year of the Periodic Table of Chemical Elements (IYPT2019), as designated by UNESCO and marking 150 years since Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleev devised the iconic chart. Macramé Jane’s artwork kicked off its journey in Paris and has been on its travels ever since, having toured and been displayed all over the UK.

Jane was inspired to take on the project by her father Nevin, a University of Edinburgh School of Chemistry alumnus and a retired industrial chemist and FRSC, after developing her hobby through the creation of increasingly intricate projects such as a set of Super Mario play blocks for her nephew. In fact Nevin’s Wife, Helen, also has her PhD from the School of Chemistry and Jane studied biomechanics at Surrey University.

The periodic table

Picture: © Helen Stewart

We are delighted to host Jane’s fantastic macramé creation in our state of the art social space during Doors Open Day at the historic Joseph Black building, which itself will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2020. It is a fitting tribute to Mendeleev’s iconic chart and to celebrate IYPT2019. It is also wonderful that Jane is the daughter of two Edinburgh Chemistry PhD alumni, Helen and Nevin Stewart, so it is almost coming home.

Professor Colin Pulham, Head of School at the University of Edinburgh School of Chemistry.

Macramé gives a sense of achievement.

You get 'in flow' while you are working. Being creative keeps you busy and you can share the hobby with others, or work alone.

"It is very soothing, much like knitting. Individual knots do not take much thought. I enjoy designing my own patterns to follow. I'm a scientist by training and the ordered craft form reminds me of lab experiments at university. Method repeat result."

Jane Stewart.

With support from the RSC, the work has been on an exhaustive tour of the UK. In February it was displayed at the University of Durham, followed by St Catharine’s College, Cambridge in March. In the summer it featured at York Festival of Ideas and at a Royal Society of Chemistry family day in Aberdeen. On Saturday the 28th of September it will be exhibited at the University of Edinburgh School of Chemistry before moving on to the University of St Andrews, the University of Oxford.  The Royal Society of Edinburgh public presentation then beckons and finally The Royal Institution, London display to coincide with the RI Christmas Lectures filming.

Jane also plans to take it into schools as part of her STEM ambassador role, promoting science to children. 

More Information

The ancient art of macramé originated in Arabia. The word comes from the Arabic ‘migramah’ which means ‘fringe’ and was used to finish off a weaver’s work. This work is unusual as the entire fabric is made of macramé not just the border.

Inset picture © Grahame Larter

Monday, September 16, 2019