I’m on vacation this week. Here’s the story behind one my older soft sculptures, The Truth About Armadillos.
I spent the springs of 2001 and 2002 in Killeen, Texas doing field work for Cornell University’s Bioacoustics Research Program. While I was there to remotely record birds, I was on the watch for wildlife of any kind. What I really wanted to see, though, was an armadillo. I’d never seen one in the wild and Texas seemed like the place to do it. Unfortunately, the only armadillos I saw there were lying by roads, crushed pink and gray messes. When I left Texas after the 2002 field season, my dream unfulfilled, I decided that only dead armadillos were pink and gray shells. When alive, I imagined armadillos as being all colors of the rainbow.
A few years later, I was part of a scrap bag challenge with an art doll group in Ithaca, NY. I was given a bag of fabric scraps and told to make something with them. Seeing the rainbow of colors available, I immediately thought of a living armadillo. So I made the sculpture pictures above.
I combined quilting techniques (quilting and piecing) with my art doll skills. The design (if you can call it that) is all my own. The entire thing was an improv — I made a bunch of body parts more than once trying to get them right. I chewed through the challenge fabric, but wound up adding only one fabric (the light blue belly) to the provided scraps. I used polymer clay to make the claws and beads for the eyes. Everything else is fabric.
I was ecstatic with the results and was surprised to find that other people liked The Truth About Armadillos enough to award it the viewer’s first prize for soft sculpture at the Tompkins County Quilters Guild’s show in 2005.