Working and playing with the 3D shapes in stage 1 (previous post) generated a few potential ideas. The two which seemed to hold the most interesting possibilities for working within a fairly limited colour palette were baby blocks made from pelmet vilene with each side displaying a variety of blackwork and other tonal hand and free machine embroideries; and bags. In the end I chose to work with bags, having discovered an interesting link between Native American Indian / Aboriginal medicine bags and a close relative to one of the animals I was researching, with an emphasis on the markings on his shell - the tortoise and turtle.
Native American Indian mothers sometimes make fetish medicine bags for their babies. These bags are made in the shape of animals whose attributes the mothers hope their little ones will develop. Girls fetish bags are made in the shape of turtles. Turtles are known for their long life spans. Turtles also symbolize Mother Earth, and are ancient symbols of longevity and patience. They only carry what they need - their shell.
Boys fetish bags are made in the shape of lizards. Lizards and snakes are known for their stealth and speed, qualities mothers wish for their male children. These bags function as good luck charms. When the child grows older the bags are sometimes attached to the child's belt.