Tortoise bottom

After a break to recover from making the tortoise shell, I started thinking about the base (or “tortoise bottom” as ESP referred to it – oh how we laughed 🙄).

The first issue was how high should it be? My original idea was to have the sides of the base quite low, to represent the idea of the tortoise being close to the ground.

But when I made some cardboard moulds of different heights to see how it looked, I felt that the lid rather swamped the lower bases, so I decided to make a higher base of around 5cm.

I also wanted to make a tortoise design on the bottom of the base, which would be revealed only when the lid was removed. I found a fair few coiled turtle designs in African and Native American baskets, though most of these were round and mine had to be oval.

In the end I created a striped pattern to match the lid.

Base in progress

I kept testing the base with the lid as it grew, to check how the proportions were working.

I wanted the sides to be plain black so as not to distract from the lid, but there seemed to be an awful lot of black as the base grew higher. So in the end I added a small border of yellow triangles to match the border on the lid.

And here is the finished piece.

I will always think of this as my Covid piece, as it occupied most of my time during lockdown! And it struck me that it was rather appropriate in so many ways, evoking a tortoise’s ability to withdraw into itself, seeking shelter and protection.

Stay well!

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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%.

14 thoughts on “Tortoise bottom”

  1. Outstanding! I love the base and how it works with the lid. And then the surprise turtle in the inside really completes the piece. Yes, it fits perfectly with sheltering in place too. Great job, Kim!

  2. I have loved following your workings on this project, and have sent your posts to several people. The finished shell was so striking, I hadn’t realised how much you could add to it with a base (the tortoise’s plastron), but you have; it is glorious, and I so admire the tortoise and edge you worked in as you went along. Just gorgeous.

    1. Thank you so much Harriet! I’m glad you enjoyed reading about the process – and you’re clearly more of an expert on tortoise anatomy than me. 😉

  3. Kim, it has been said many times but – outstanding just awesome. Each is a complete piece in its own right but the two together offering the sheltering tortoise inside is imaginative & thought provoking In these unprecedented times.

    I learnt recently that the word ‘awful’ started out as full of awe – ‘awe full’ a very high accolade. Now I know this, I wish it’s modern meaning would revert back as ‘awesome’ doesn’t seem enough!

    Great posts Kim, you’ve really kept us wanting more….And your next project is….?

    1. Heartfelt thanks Antje – I’ve been blown away by all the appreciative comments.

      I’m currently mulling over other ways I might use this technique – watch this space! 😉

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