I've just spent the better part of the past week putting the final touches on Catabet so it could be photographed by our reigning champ Dan Kvitka, proofed by my longtime friend Janet Harris, and sent off to the printer by the end of the week! I took advantage of a heatwave we were having earlier this week, and sat near the air conditioner while laying out the pages and working on the glossary. I am forgoing the dedication page in this book and having four glossary pages at the end of the book, so that I can provide information on each designer and clothing item or fashion term used in the book. There are even a few pronunciation aids for some of the more difficult words.
One nice benefit of having mostly anthropomorphized cats for the book is that I could easily have a group shot taken, which is going to be used on the back cover!
The only major change I made to the book was changing the name of our W character from Wallis to Woody, after discovering in my glossary research that Wallis Simpson was a buddy of Adolf Hitler. W is for Whoopsie! That was a close one! Woody is named for the much more palatable queen of punk fashion, Vivienne Westwood, pictured below.
Getting it to the printer this early will ensure that I'll have it in my hands much earlier than last year because the plan is to launch the book at my open studio event in October! Mark your calendars for the weekends of October 8&9 and 15&16 when I'll have books and all the original cats on display! This will be my second year participating in Portland Open Studios, a lovely event where over 100 artists in the Portland area invite you to see their workspaces. I usually have festive beverages and mini ping pong as well. The only thing missing is YOU!
Are you ready to see our last three Catabet characters? Of course you are.....
H is for Heidi, whose hoodie sweatshirt had an intricate pattern to hide all the dirt.
H! A Himalayan wHo Hoarded Houndstooth!
Heidi is named for supermodel and host of my favorite guilty pleasure tv show, Project Runway, Heidi Klum! Here she is in a classic houndstooth ensemble:
You think I'm kidding, don't you? It actually is Heidi in a halloween costume that I found on the internets when I was searching for her wearing houndstooth. Here's a better image of how she looks on a normal day:
As mentioned in the rhyme, Heidi is a Himalayan cat.
Boy oh boy, did I set myself up for a challenge here, having to figure out how to paint a houndstooth pattern on a 3-d object. Fortunately I found, of all silly things, a tutorial on how to paint the pattern on your fingernails, which was very helpful. It's not perfect, but no too bad, if I do say so myself:
Now we'll move on to R:
R is for Ralphie, who loathed getting wet 'til he found the right duds at the raingear outlet!
(alternate ending could be on the internet)
Ralphie is named for the Prince of Polo, Ralph Lauren. Oddly enough, it was hard to find an image of him actually wearing a polo shirt, but this is a classic:
Ralphie needed an umbrella, which I fashioned out of a little turned bowl, which you see sitting next to the other found wood I used to make the figure:
I was happy to be able to make a Russian Blue cat for this letter, as my family had one when I was a kid named Greylock, after a book my mother had as a child:
So here's our Ralphie in his yellow Raincoat, Rainboots and Rainbow umbRella!
Last, but certainly not least, we come to our final character in Catabet--the letter T:
T is for Tommy, who cared not who knew that he danced all day long in a hot pink tutu!
T! A Tiger who Twirls in Tuille!
Tommy is named for....you guessed it....fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger, (who's also a fan of houndstooth!)
Making a tutu out of wood was one of my challenges, which I decided to do by layering concentric scalloped circles:
Figuring out which ballerina pose was most iconic (and doable!) was the next challenge.
It would have been nice to have Tommy be en pointe, but I settled for the classic 5th position.
So.....that's it. I did it! Woohoo!
Thanks to all of you, once again, for your comments and words of encouragement, but most of all, for your financial support to make Catabet a reality. Knowing I was funded early really helped me push to get these figures done while the Kickstarter campaign was still alive. Sometime tomorrow, you'll get an email from Kickstarter saying this project has successfully funded. You probably won't hear from me again until I schedule the photo shoot this spring, and I'll contact those of you who pledged for custom figures or original pieces from the book closer to the launch date for the book.
Speaking of which, I am planning on having an open studio event this October to show all 26 of the original cats at once, so if you're in the Portland area or want to come, mark your calendars. If you're in the Los Angeles area, there's a possible show in the works that might include figures from Catabet AND Alphabird, so I'll let you know more details about that once we've finalized them--probably late this year.
If you're reading this and haven't pledged yet, it's now or never, folks! Click here!
Sunday's always been my favorite day of the week. Mostly because it's such a peaceful day and even though I usually get a little work done on that day, I don't feel the same kind of pressure that I do on other days to accomplish anything. Well, on this particular Sunday, I am excited to release three more of our furry friends, which feels like a BIG accomplishment for the day.
P is for Pierre, whose unique pedigree includes pirates and poodles. (that's the truth, mon cherie!)
P! A Pussy who Proudly Pairs a Pirate Hat and a Poodle Skirt!
P is named for French designer Pierre Cardin, known for some pretty avant garde designs that I LOVE.
the white fur has a very subtle off-white painted on top, to emulate the long fur found on a Persian cat.
Moving on to D now.....
D is for Donna, whose old dungarees still fit pretty good, though worn out at the knees.
Donna is named for another fashion designer with a long career behind her-- Donna Karan.
My studio process shots for this one are kind of boring, so I'll just jump right into showing you the finished piece.
Donna is a Devon Rex, which is a cat breed that comes in a lot of colors, but all have a very angular face and big eyes. I came up with the t-shirt slogan to honor a rare but notable 70's shirt that's been on my mind recently after reading this article in the New York Times. Is this too obscure for the book? No. That's what the glossary is for! Gotta raise a new generation somehow.
Last, but not least, we have our Z cat:
Z is for Zac, whose pinstripe zoot suit made him look super cool (Don't you dare call him cute!)
Not sure I like this rhyme, so don't be surprised if it's evolved by the time I send the book to print. I really like the figure though! It was a big challenge painting those pinstripes so they didn't look wonky (I should cut back on my caffeine consumption maybe?)
Looks like the hat could use a little more shaping as well....
Zac is named for the young and adorable Zac Posen, by the way......
So now we have three more cats left and I am well on my way to finishing them and will come back in two days to present the H, T, and R that will conclude the book! And then early Wednesday, the whole Kickstarter campaign officially ends. Woohoo!
Thank you all again for your support in helping me bring this book to life in record time!
Here's a quick post about my two latest characters:
E is for Edith, who impressed all the vets, by showing up in her golden epaulettes.
E is named for two different fashion icons--designer Edith Head.....
And Little Edie Beale, fashion icon from the classic film Grey Gardens.
Edith is also from a pretty cool E breed of cats called an Egyptian Mau
Although there wasn't really a lot of fur visible on my figure, who's in full formal military dress with her golden epaulettes:
The letter I proved to not have a lot of competition in the fashion world, but I was happy to discover the Inverness Coat, most famously worn by Sherlock Holmes. Here's my sketchbook page:
I is for Issey, who couldn't help gloat about his big thrift shop score of an Inverness coat.
I! an Inexpensive way to look more Interesting!
Issey is named for Japanese designer Issey Miyake, known for his pretty awesome technology-driven fashion styles. Kind of a funny mix to have his namesake wearing a piece of Victorian-era clothing, but I'd also love to see him come up with a modern version of the Inverness coat!
At the beginning of the week, I was dubious I'd actually be able to finish all of the cats for the book, but now it's looking good with four more to show you today, leaving eight to *finish* painting by Wednesday morning. (Can I get a premature woohoo?)
Let's get into it with the letter N:
N is for Naomi,
who wrote in her journal
until 3 a.m.
(You know, cats are nocturnal)
N! A kitty with a nightgown and a nosewarmer!
Naomi is named for 80's supermodel Naomi Campbell, who actually has a cat-themed perfume in her product bucket!
Here's our Naomi.....ready for beddy-bye!
No time to dilly dally......our next letter is Q
Q is for Qiana
who made the tomcats meow
when she made a grand entrance
in her fancy qipao!
Q! A Kitty whose Quest to dress is exQuisite!
It wasn't hard to make the decision to have this kitty wearing a Japanese qipao dress, but the name did prove challenging, as there weren't any designers or fashionistas who had a name starting with Q that seemed appropriate for my book. I decided to go with Qiana for the name--a silky nylon fabric developed by DuPont in the early 1960's, that also happens to be used as a first name by a lot of humans! Here's an ad promoting this revolutionary new fabric to the masses:
In case you haven't noticed, there are subtle references all throughout this book to cat lore, and this one seemed the perfect place to honor one of my favorite cats: Maneki-Neko.
Here's my Qiana in progress:
And here she is in all her crimson glory:
Now we'll move over to our friend U:
U is for Ugo
who watched o'er the dorm,
while proudly adorning
his school uniform.
My U is named for Ugo Mozie, a designer of Nigerian descent, although raised in the United States since he was 3 years old. His fashion designs have mostly been focused on the entertainment industry, creating clothing for television and film.
Our U cat is modeled after the slightly eery, wrinkly Ukranian Levkoy cat:
And here's Ugo, rocking the school uniform!
And last, but certainly not least, I have completed our V kitty:
V is for Vera
who loved summer skies.
Her vintage sun visor
kept the sun from her eyes.
Vera, as you may have already guessed, is named for Vera Wang, who could have been known as an Olympic Skater rather than the grand dame of wedding gowns!
I found an image of a cute vintage tennis dress for my Vera, and even swapped out the Izod logo for a tiny green kitty.
So there's my whopper of a post for today.....hope you liked our new cats!
take care, and thanks for your support of Catabet!