Friday, November 20, 2009

Antarctica - A progress report

Mt Terror, foreground, and Mt Erebus

I recently achieved a major milestone in my project to stitch a scale model of Antartica. The idea was to start with Ross Island, and see how it worked, felt and looked before deciding whether to tackle the big continent. Following historical precedent I have used Ross Island as my base from which to assess the task ahead, to prepare for my assault on the South Pole itself.

Ross Island, unmounted, (approx 26cm diameter)

Ross Island was easier to make than I expected, and I'm pretty pleased with it so far. I have stitched the whole island with its four volcanoes. I have yet to mount it, but I thought I would show you some what it looks like just floating, before I embed it in the pack ice and shelf ice of the Ross Sea.

blanket stitch detail

It's got a very dreamy quality in these photos, which matches the island of my imagination. I know that in real life Scott Base and MacMurdo Base are ugly industrial villages blotting the pristine white snow black rock of Scott Point, but I felt no need to mark their presence on my island.

There are a few faint blood stains in the snow, though blotted so thoroughly that not even I could find them again. Towards the end of my stitching I repeatedly stabbed myself with the needle, my blood falling onto the cotton and wool like watermelon snow, a pink algae that grows on snow and ice in the polar summers . Antarctica is not kind to those who love her; even an interpretation from afar is dangerous.

Mt Terror (foreground) Mt Bird (right)

But despite the inherent dangers and difficulties I am as compelled as any scientist or explorer who has been drawn so far South. I am almost ready to launch my attempt on continental Antarctica: I have my pattern pieces and I'm felting another wool blanket for the big base contours (my Kaiapoi blanket will furnish the highest altitudes). I anticipate many months of stitching through our Southern summer, months in which I can immerse myself in an imaginary Antarctic journey: hauling my needle by hand across the great white wastelands, climbing glaciers, traversing crevasses. I'll keep you posted.

Mt Erebus


Tim Jones said...

I am so looking forward to seeing this! How big will the completed model be?

Camilla said...

This looks wonderful- i've recently become a little obsessed with snow and cold places.

Michelle said...


Saw the finished image first and thought it might be crocheted - but great to see the construction - no wonder there is "pink algae"...

Very inspiring... Will be interested to see how you re-create the Dry Lakes - did you know Lake Vanda is named after the wife of the head of Chemistry at Waikato University in the 1970's?