Soft Art

Mountain Turtle

This is the only piece I've made, so far, out of reclaimed fabric. The sofa from the 50's was ready to go, but the fabric on the back and sides that were little touched by hands and bums over the years was still in great shape. Who could let such colours and patterns go to waste?!

Measures approximately 24 by 36 inches and about 5 inches thick.

Made from reclaimed fabric, handmade custom buttons, further embroidered by machine on the mountain side, stuffed with polyester fibrefill.

Made in the summer of 2004.

Commisions welcome.


The mountain side, maybe the underbelly?
You can just make out the people/eyes poking out between columns 1and 2 and between columns 3 and 4 behind the second row from the front.

Why is it called Mountain Turtle?
The "Madonna boob" side is the mountain range. The button side is the turtle shell. There are legs, one at each corner.

When the Mountain Turtle is lying on it's back, you can see two little people walking towards each other through the mountains - or maybe those are the turtle's protruding eyes?

When the Mountain Turtle is lying with the shell side up, the four legs can be tucked neatly under each corner to make a soft sculpture coffee table. Really works!

The corner leg.
In this picture you can see how some of the fabic needed to be pieced together for the large, flat piece of the turtle back.

Curious Facts
The buttons are made out of nickels, a little bit of stuffing, and the same reclaimed fabric.

The fabric was embroidered with yellow/green thread on a simple tight zigzag setting, on a regular sewing machine.

Reclaiming Furniture Fabric
If you're ever going to reclaim fabric from a well loved, 50 year old sofa, be prepared to wash it at least 5 times!

The first 2 times are mostly soaking in a tub - years of spilled beer, soda and other, food stainswill turn the soaking water the colour of mud and the air will be heavy with the smell of cigarettes and rotting sneakers.

The third time round isn't nearly as bad, and the fourth time you can put the fabric - in batches because it's bulky! - into a washing machine.

And thenrun it a firth time through a complete washing cycle, just for good measure. Don't forget to add a cup full of vinegar to the last rinse to set the colours. Once dry, it won't smell like vinegar, only like clean, fresh laundry. If it doesn't, wash it again until it does

Then iron each piece and scrap like a maniac until your arm is ready to drop off or until the fabric is flat and smooth and ready for another 50 years or more.