WATCH: La Salle brother finishes 20-year-old cross-stitch project during lockdown

Anna Gabrielle Cerezo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 20 2020 07:14 PM | Updated as of Jul 20 2020 10:20 PM

Br. Martin Sellner FSC finally finishes his 20-year-old project

MANILA -- (UPDATE) With much of the world on COVID-19 lockdown, many found time to revive forgotten hobbies and passions. 

Lasallian Brother Martin Sellner FSC, he used his freed up schedule to finish a 20-year-old project. 

In a post on his Facebook account, Sellner documented the final stitches of his giant cross-stitch of the periodic table of elements.

“Finally after two decades, the cross-stitch of the periodic table is complete. Posted is a short video of the final five stitches (out of over one million)... Finally the last nine elements were named by the IUPAC and I was able to complete it during this prolonged lockdown,” he wrote. 

According to the Lasallian brother, he learned to cross-stitch when he developed a “serious back problem” in 1999 while working in the Philippines. 

“I went back to the States to get it resolved. Surgery was not an option, and other procedures did not help, so I made a decision to remain at home. Teaching was no longer possible,” he explained.

He said a dear friend and mother of his former student suggested taking up “sewing, knitting, or needlepoint on a plastic grid,” as a hobby to keep himself busy. 

“I enjoyed doing that, making covers for tissue boxes. The sides were rectangular, and after a while I thought of the periodic table, with its 118 'boxes.' So I suggested making a periodic table using needlepoint,” Sellner recalled.

He continued: “The lady thought I was crazy, and suggested cross-stitching. I had never heard of it, so we went to get a beginners kit. While she was looking at the beginners’ kits, I picked out one that I thought would be perfect, but the lady said was for experts.”

Not letting his novice skill set discourage him, Sellner pursued his vision and designed his own giant periodic table pattern. 

According to him, he was particularly interested in the table of elements as he had spent years teaching it before his back injury barred him from the classrooms. 

Sellner became a Lasallian brother in 1955, and jumpstarted his career as an educator by teaching Chemistry at a high school in Chicago, Illinois and in Minnesota for 4 years and 22 years, respectively, before being invited by Br. Andrew Gonzalez, a batchmate of his “in their formation years,” to come to Manila in 1985. 

“I taught various chemistry classes at DLSU for the next 10 years. He then asked me to go to Zobel, work on the science curriculum and update the science labs. That I did for five years until I had to go back to the States because of my back,” Sellner recalled. 

When he began his ambitious project, however, he said he never “realized it would take 20 years to finish.”

As much as he loved his new hobby, Sellner admitted it was a daunting task. According to him, the table’s border alone took him six years to accomplish.

Aside from the painstaking and intricate details of the giant periodic table being time-consuming, Sellner admitted his masterpiece lingered unfinished for decades as he would get “tired of the same project.” 

“I started others just for some variety. I ended up doing 20 or 30 other cross-stitch projects, giving them away to family, relatives and friends. And continuing stitching the periodic table until it finally got finished a few days ago,” he said.

“Well, now it is finished, and that makes me happy, ” he enthused.

To date, the video has been viewed for 480,000 times and has shared by over 8,000 netizens.