While I’m on vacation, I’m posting about some of the projects I finished a long time ago. This one is from 201o.

The East Meets West bag sat around in pieces for nearly a year after I got it blocked. It took me a while to get organized enough to trace the pieces for the lining and construct the bag.

Finally finished!

(The alert reader will notice the difference between the flap now that the duplicate stitch work is done and the flap when I last posted about this project.)

I suppose it isn’t surprising that I waited. I had to fuss with the lining, adjusting until it fit, and it took a while to get it all worked out. I did manage to add in some pockets for small tools, including my beloved stitch and needle gauge. I used a heavy interfacing to give the bag some body, which worked, although I would have been happier if I’d used fusible interfacing. Then I could have stuck the lining to the interfacing and gotten a cleaner finish.

Already in service…

The only thing it still needs is clasp to hold it together. My fiber-expert friend Deb has suggested Norwegian pewter clasps. While they are beautiful, I think I’d rather just use some hook and eye closures so that the claps are invisible. The front of the bag seems complicated enough without adding more stuff to it.

It only took me 9 months to get from knitted to constructed. Any bets on how long it takes me to get the closure put on the flap? If I could, I’d go without one, but when you pick the bag up by the strap, the whole things sags and the flap pops up, making it easy for the yarn to jump out and escape.

Note: Four years later and this bag STILL needs a clasp. Maybe I should do something about that…

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It’s that time of year: my parents are visiting us in Colorado. The following is a post from their visit in 2010, but I can guarantee we are out somewhere with cameras recording the beauties of the American West.

Rocky Mountain National Park

We were fortunate enough to spend last Friday up in the mountains showing my parents the splendor of the Rockies in summer. The mountains cooperated beautifully: sunny but cool weather, light breezes, abundant wildlife, and buckets of wildflowers. And we were armed to take advantage of it: everyone had a camera.

Kurt, Mom, and Dad shooting the landscape

In fact, as a professional photographer, Dad had two.   Mom records images she is considering using in her ceramic work. Kurt is just getting back into photography, and had a great time learning how to use the camera we just bought.

Kurt with the new camera

With so many art photographers on the job, I was more relaxed than usual. I still took plenty of pictures (over 200) of the natural scenes that intrigued me. But I also made an effort to get pictures of people, even myself.

Shadow self-portrait

Overall, my family took over 1000 digital pictures that day, which is completely unbelievable when I  remember what it was like to use film. At 36 exposures a roll, 1000 photos would require 28 rolls of film. I could spend a whole week on vacation and only shoot 4 rolls.  I didn’t realize how much the expense of film photography kept me from taking pictures.  Of course, many of my digital photos aren’t worth keeping, but I get more that I like now that I take so many more to begin with.

I’m on vacation this week. Here’s the story behind one my older soft sculptures, The Truth About Armadillos.

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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.

 

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In the spirit of Sir John Lubbock’s words, I am going to take a little rest before the summer’s over. While I will officially be on vacation until after Labor Day, I will still be posting quotes and past projects on my blog.

Happy Summer, and see you in September!

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