There was, he thought, no point in collecting anything else; this was everything else. It was the catalogue of everything that existed in the universe, stripped down to its 118 basic ingredients.

— Itchingham Lofte, element collector (from Itch by Simon Mayo)

Chemistry is essentially the study of elements – the 118 so far discovered or made – and their compounds. This blog concerns my creative endeavours inspired by chemistry and chemists.

Framed by a Smoking Gun is my biography of Colonel B D Shaw who, like Simon Mayo’s Itch, was fascinated by chemistry from an early age, particularly by any elements or compounds he could cause to explode. He made his name as a demonstration lecturer and, with his flashes and bangs and crisp explanations, inspired many school children to pursue their studies further. He dedicated more than 50 years to the Territorial Army, serving in both World Wars and spending five years in captivity in Germany. His life story, both personal and professional, is remarkable and I hope you will be convinced to read the book.

Periodic Blackwork is a project I began in 2019, the International Year of the Periodic Table. I am using the embroidery technique of blackwork to create a periodic table sampler with a different filler for each element. The hope is that I will find some symbol or pattern to represent every element, whether a symbol used historically by alchemists or chemists or something to represent the origin of its name, its discoverer, its place of discovery, its structure or its properties. I welcome ideas for those elements not yet completed.

Misc is for everything and anything else, mixed together – other chemistry-related craftwork, activities and observations.

Credit to the wonderful Cambridge Imprint for the paper used for the Periodic Table at the top of this page.


periodically.blog features the work of Clare E Wilkes, author, crafter and chemistry enthusiast

To buy Framed by a Smoking Gun

Order through your local bookshop, visit my publisher’s website or purchase through any of the usual online booksellers