BY NATALIE OLSEN
Whidbey Life Magazine Contributor
September 16, 2015
Janet Pfeifer is one of 25 artists selected to participate in the Museum of Flight’s “Astronauts on the Town” program. Each was given a life-size fiberglass model of the museum’s astronaut character to decorate; the finished pieces were displayed at businesses and public locations throughout the Puget Sound area. Pfeifer’s “Kit the Caboodlenaut” spent the summer at Seattle’s Hard Rock Café and will “land” at Seattle’s Museum of Flight this weekend for the museum’s 50th birthday celebration.
Pfeifer, a carpenter for 32 years, included a variety of materials in her creation. “I’ve dressed the astronaut in different colored crushed wine foils along with added found objects,” she explains. Bicycle chains outline the thick soles on “Kit’s” boots, elevator springs and small tools painted gold decorate the helmet and many other finds are tucked onto the suit.
“The stuff is cool. By itself, just junk; but in collage it’s texture, context, shape and color. I have entirely too much and not enough. Certainly not enough life left to use it all.”
The first questions most people ask are, “How many foils did you use?” and “Did you and your husband Robert DRINK all that wine?”
In each 6-inch square, there are about 25 wine foils. Pfeifer admits she lost count of the number of foils she used. “I know there’s 400 plus from Frei Brother’s Winery included in the pants, because I ran out. A friend who drinks that kind of wine bought four more cases to enable me to finish.” Pfeifer prefers foils with creative designs on top like the ones produced by Backhouse Winery. Bloom’s Semillon is one of her favorites—both the wine and the foils.
The astronaut’s helmet includes more than 300 photos of people who have influenced Pfeifer’s life. Eleanor Roosevelt, Janis Joplin and Walter Cronkite are pictured along with several Whidbey faces. “Kit is largely due to the people, past and present, in my life.”
Guitar and cello strings, low-voltage wire and other thin metal strands form “Kit’s” hair, which falls in long braids from the helmet.
A Freeland carpenter, Pfeifer works part time for Richard Epstein Construction and also does finish work in her own company, “Homework Arts.” She manages to fit in art projects when she can find the time.
A few years ago Pfeifer was commissioned to create an art piece for the Inn at Langley’s Spa Essencia waiting room, and she will have five pieces on exhibit in Bloom’s annual $100 show this November and December.
Pfeifer plans to attend Saturday’s 50th anniversary celebration at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, where “Kit the Caboodlenaut” will be on display with 24 other astronauts. Entrance fee for the entire day (10 a.m. to 5 p.m.) will be only 50 cents, just as it was 50 years ago. Visitors are encouraged to dress for the 1960s theme. Anniversary festivities begin at 12:30 p.m.
The two months Pfeifer spent working on the astronaut piece meant a lot to her. “Boeing has always been a part of my life, and my mother and I loved watching each spaceship blast off! This is a great homage to her love of the space program.”
Pfeifer will have a hard time saying goodbye to “Kit.”
(Featured photo by Marsha Morgan: Janet Pfeifer and her creation, “Kit The Caboodlenaut.”)
Natalie Olsen, a fiber artist and writer, also has a collection of wine foils and corks. She says, “It’s always 5:00 somewhere. Here’s to Kit!”
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