This week’s topic at Inspire Me Thursday is polka dots, which dovetails beautifully with my armadillo theme, because I happen to own a handmade, polka-dotted armadillo. (How many people can say that?) Made for me by Donna Faivre-Roberts, doll maker extraordinaire, as a going away gift when I left Ithaca, this cutie is about 4 inches long and completely needle felted. Ain’t he sweet?
The armadillo part of this is, of course, being in Texas. I was on the watch for wildlife in general but my greatest wish was to see an armadillo running around in the wild. To my dismay, 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 armadillos had to be more than pink and gray shells. I decided armadillos only looked that way dead. When alive, I imagine armadillos as being all colors of the rainbow. (This is the whimsy part.)
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 one (see 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 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.