April 21, 2022
— A former NASA astronaut is sharing her favorite views of Earth to inspire new works of art.
Karen Nyberg, who demonstrated her passion for the textile arts while living on board the International Space Station, has partnered with Robert Kaufman Fabrics to introduce a line of organic cotton prints. Nyberg's "Earth Views" collection is based on the landscapes she captured while orbiting Earth 2,656 times.
"I loved to take photographs of Earth and I think [there were] a couple of reasons for that," Nyberg said in a video released by Robert Kaufman Fabrics. "One, I kind of felt like I needed to share this. I was so fortunate to be one of such a few number of people who are lucky enough to go to space and see it that I wanted to share as much as I could."
"But also I loved to try to get artistic photos of Earth and just kind of capture that beauty as much as I can," she said.
In designing the Earth Views collection, Nyberg selected photos that she thought would be a good representation of the various textures on Earth, while also capturing the distinct ecosystems that make up the planet. Among the 13 different prints (each available in several colors) are squares based on Nyberg's photos of the Andes Mountains in Chile, the Grand Canyon in the U.S., the blue waters off the coast of the Bahamas and the Sahara Desert in Egypt.
"I worked with some amazing designers at Robert Kaufman, who were able to put [the scenes] in the repeat patterns that worked for each," said Nyberg. "We decided what the scale needed to be for each to look good and the different colorways [so that] we could then have a palette with all of the values that would help put a good quilt together."
"I really can't wait to see what people make with this fabric line," she said.
In addition to Earth Views, Nyberg's collection also includes prints inspired by the artwork she has created, both on and off the planet.
Her new "Challenge Star Quilt" pattern borrows its design from the quilts she encouraged others to create, beginning with a star that she sewed while on the space station in 2013. In response, NASA received 2,400 quilt squares from around the world, which were then sewn together to create 28 king-sized quilts.
"The Star Quilt pattern is special for a couple reasons," Nyberg said. "One, my whole life I reached for the stars with my goal of being an astronaut one day flying in space. And I'm hoping so many other people are reaching for their stars as they go through life."
"Then, secondly, the Astronomical Quilt Block Challenge that we conducted when I was in space that brought so many people from around the world together with common interest," she said.
Nyberg's other new offerings include an endangered animals quilt appliqué wall hanging that features eight threatened species from around the world. They are portrayed in a circle, which represents Earth and "the connection between these animals' survival and the planet."
"It's a little bit more on the side of my style of textile arts," said Nyberg, who once created a stuffed dinosaur toy from the fabric scraps she found around the space station. "I hope folks will give it a give it a shot, and maybe even change up the colors."
Nyberg also collaborated with NASA engineer Sarah Ruiz to incorporate her Earth Views prints into a pattern inspired by the windows through which Nyberg viewed and photographed the planet. Their "Cupola Views" quilt captures the layout of the space station's seven-window cupola in a bold and geometric style.
"This design really is special to me. After all that time of seeing Earth from space through the cupola, and then seeing my prints, these beautiful, beautiful Earth views, through [those same] windows," said Nyberg.
All of the items in Nyberg's collection are made from 100 percent organic cotton, a detail that was important for her to highlight.
"It's better for planet Earth. It's better for the people that are making it," she said. "I'm hoping that being on 100 percent organic cotton and showing the beauty of Earth through the prints will really bring awareness to people about our Earth, the fragility of our Earth, the beauty of our Earth and the importance of our Earth."