Inspired by an armadillo

Sorry about the radio silence, but after the Christmas rush and a month’s holiday I lost a bit of my creative drive. 😦 But now the days are getting longer (and sunnier) I can feel my mojo returning – last week I dyed my first indigo batch of the year.

During this down time I visited the Grant Museum of Zoology, a wonderful collection of skeletons, fossils and pickled specimens. Not surprisingly, I was enchanted by the samples of coral and also a python skeleton, as well as the micrarium – an imaginative display of microscope slides.

However, what got my brain cells whirring was an armadillo in the same case as the python skeleton. It was slightly tucked away behind another specimen (not good for photos), higher than my head height (also not good) and behind glass (worst of all). But the way the armour “bands” overlapped as the creature curled started me thinking about furling and unfurling – here’s an image of a three-banded armadillo so you can see what I mean. (I also love the texture!)


Sketching ideas on the bus on the way home I came up with the strategy of felting around a series of different sized resists and then inserting one inside the other before felting them together.

armadillo inspired 1

This is the result of my first experiment. There’s a stone in the bottom to keep it stable when vertical, but I felt that the individual scales were too elongated, and there was a gaping hole at the centre.

armadillo inspired 2

Experiment 2 was more successful, though the red spiral was probably overkill. The piece was not stable enough to stand vertically but I decided that probably didn’t matter (though I did start wondering about the best way to display it). I was happier with the shape, so decided to see what would happen if I added more scales.

armadillo inspired 3

Experiment 3 was not a success! I thought I would try a colour spectrum, but I didn’t really have enough shades of blue and I didn’t blend those I did have properly. (And the photo makes it look even worse!) Also, the scales were too far apart and didn’t overlap enough.

armadillo inspired 4 armadillo inspired 5

Finally, experiment 4 resulted in a piece I was happy with. By curling the free end, I think it would be possible to use that to hang it from a hook.

armadillo inspired 6 armadillo inspired 7

Still more experiments to do with varying the shape of the resists – I think the free end could be shorter and pointier. And it’s definitely more vegetal than armadillo!


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Flextiles uses shibori, ecoprinting and felting to create original, one-off upcycled pieces. Extending the life of a garment by an extra nine months reduces its environmental impact by 20-30%.

18 thoughts on “Inspired by an armadillo”

  1. These are brilliant can see where your inspiration came from,the first one reminded of the Sydney Opera house

  2. Fascinating as always Kim. You have such vision and imagination, not to mention patience when it comes to putting your ideas into practice. To my eye there is definitely a creature-like impression to your pieces, but I’m afraid it’s the creature from Ridley Scott’s film Alien that springs to mind! Is that a bad thing?!

  3. It’s lovely Kim. Was good to see work in progress.


    Tracey Goulding Acupuncture and SCENAR web: 07941 740018

    Sent from my iPad


  4. Great set of experiments. I think each one has its own personality and I can tell you learned a lot from your work. It doesn’t really matter that it doesn’t look like the inspiration source. It’s where you take it 🙂

  5. Kim, I am mesmerized by your work; truly beautiful and imaginative. Do you give classes or tutorials on your techniques?

    1. Hello Vicky,

      Thank you for your kind comment. I haven’t run classes up till now, but as I keep getting requests I am probably going to start. 🙂

      If you like, I can add your email to my mailing list to keep you informed. Or just keep following this blog, as I will undoubtedly plug them here when I do start!


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