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Conveyor Belts Become Traveling Artwork

Goodyear conveyor belts commonly transport coal from mines and groceries through check-out lines, but whoever thought the rubber belts could become pieces of art?

Leslie Christensen, manager of marketing services for Goodyear Engineered Products, did just that by entwining the product she promotes everyday into her hobby of creating quilts and tapestries.

“I look for creative ways to decorate my office with Goodyear-related items,” she said. “When I worked with our tire business, I created artwork based on the Goodyear Aquatred tire pattern. Now I need creations that represent our industrial product businesses.”

Her most recent artwork began with a shipment of colorful, lightweight conveyer belt samples from Goodyear’s Spring Hope, N.C., plant. “After seeing the product and feeling its stiffness, I had to change my original design idea,” she said.

Using a quilting computer program, random pieces of belt, a bandsaw, epoxy glue and several long nights, Christensen forged an 18-inch, square wall hanging she calls “Greek Cross in Lightweight.” Greek Cross stands for the 1890s quilting pattern, while Lightweight is the jargon name for conveyor belts.

She created it for her office, but decided to enter it in an art show advertised in a quilting magazine. “I really didn’t think it would be accepted, but thought I would try,” she recalled.

To her surprise, Greek Cross in Lightweight is a traveling piece of artwork. It was on display as part of the “Focus: Fiber 2004” exhibit at the Artist Archives of the Western Reserve in Cleveland. The piece will be at St. Bonaventure University in New York from October 12 to January 2, 2005.

In her artist statement, Christensen writes that she made the piece as a personal challenge to create something from an industrial product. Although she had no control of the belt sample colors or dimensions, she cut and aligned the Greek Cross sections to showcase the colors and texture.

Following her success with conveyor belts, Christensen is now looking to make a weave out of automotive power transmission belts made, of course, by Goodyear. “Maybe it will be something I can wear.”

Goodyear workers may soon find themselves with a new dress code -- company uniforms made from Goodyear products.

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