Tuesday

twoFUR tuesday! (will the puns ever end?)

Hello Beautiful People! In case you haven't heard the news......

 On Sunday afternoon I got the pledge that put me over the top for Catabet! So excited to already have this project successfully funded, so I can just coast through the next two weeks of the live campaign and focus on finishing the second half of the characters! I can't say it enough: THANK YOU ALL WHO HAVE HELPED ME TO MAKE THIS FOURTH BOOK! I have been having a great time working on it and truly appreciate every pledge, every update like, every comment.  
So here we go with our two new kitties!

 J is for Jimmy
whose collection of patches
filled his orange jumpsuit
(and hid all the scratches.)
This one was time consuming but a real blast to make. My original thought was to replicate classic patches all over this kitty's jumpsuit. I searched and searched online for both racing patches and anything that screamed "classic," which I guess means 1970's to me?  I didn't really want to go the boy/girl scout direction, my most direct experience with the genre.  Oh, that reminds me of a story, so if you don't mind if I digress for a moment.....

As you may have guessed by my statement about the 1970's being the so-called "era of classic patches," I was coming of age during that decade. The image above was a familiar one of my youth--the ad in the back of the comic books that tempted many to fork over their hard-earned cash (haha--I just had a flashback to taping coins to an index card to mail away for stuff....also remember when people would accept postage stamps as legal tender!) to proclaim their message to the world. What one did I send away for, you ask? 

 I still laugh about it to this day because I think I was about 10 years old when I decided that this was the patch for me. Maybe 12, but certainly no older.  Oh....if I only knew then what I knew now! (At least I didn't pick the Confederate Flag!) But back to our friend Jimmy and his jumpsuit.
I decided to use a few classic racing patches on the jumpsuit because, well, the implication is that he's a race car driver or at least works in the pit. But then I thought it would be fun to think of patches that a cat might want on their jumpsuit. So, without further ado, here he is: 



 oops...I forgot to correct my misspelling of "glamour" This is not going to be visible in the book, but will be fixed before it goes out the door to a new owner.


 Jimmy is named for Jimmy Choo, a Malaysian designer best known for footwear. 

 Here's a process shot of my unpainted piece too:

 Now for our O cat, Otto.

 O is for Otto,
whose striped overalls
were the perfect attire
for pitchforking hairballs.
Otto is short for the Italian w√ľnderkind Ottavio Missoni, who was both an Olympic hurdler AND a fashion designer! He was known for launching Italian ready-to-wear designs and there were a ton of great (seemingly personal, not pretentious) photos of him online to choose from. Here's the one I picked of him and his favorite dogcat: 

I wanted my Otto to be wearing the classic blue and white striped OshKosh B'Gosh overalls, so I tried to make his legs as long as possible to accentuate those stripes.

 but somehow they seem to have shortened a bit in the finished piece: 

 Here's my painted figure, hairballs and all! Note the MEOW patch in stead of the Osh Kosh version. I guess these two kitties have something in common.....

 I must give a shout-out to my neighborhood art supply store Collage, where I ran over at 6pm tonight to get some felting wool to make the hairballs. Not only is this an art supply store that is 4 blocks from my house, but it also allows me to bring my beloved doggie Weegee inside whilst I shop, AND to my delight, also sells already-felted balls that were perfect for my project. As I finish this update, I'm closing up a 12 hour workday and am very grateful to be able to enjoy a nice glass of wine and not be poking my fingertips with a felting needle. Best three bucks I ever spent, unless you count that "Help! I need loving!" patch!!!!!
So it may be a bit before I'm able to post a finished piece again....and when I say "a bit," I mean I've decided to devote the week to constructing the rest of the Catabet characters so I can paint and reveal them during the final week of this Kickstarter campaign. I have a few cat-related field trips that I am hoping to report on to fill the gap. 
Thank you all again. Truly. 
If you haven't joined in on the Kickstarter yet, there's still time to pre-order and help me make Catabet even better. Click here to view the campaign and grab a book and/or custom kitty at a price lower than you'll see when the book is on the market this fall.
take care,
Hilary

Thursday

It's Triple Tabby Thursday!

Hey Beautiful People!
I'm back earlier than I thought because I finished up three more cats today and, well, I basically couldn't wait another day to show you them.  I am actually on schedule to have HALF of the book's 26 cats completed by Monday (!!!) and that makes me think I will finish all 26 by March 9 if all goes well.  I'll certainly be far enough along on the last few that it will be a scintillating conclusion to this Kickstarter campaign. 
So let's get into it, shall we?
 G is for Grace,
whose hip wedding gown
was inspired by that go-go
song from Motown.
Grace gets her name from two women in fashion history! 
Grace Kelly, an heiress turned actress who influenced many in the mid-20th century....and....
 the incomparable Grace Jones, whose fashion reign went from the 1970's for many decades beyond.
And in case you were wondering which song from Motown that our kitty Grace was influenced by......it's Smokey Robinson and the Miracles' hit "Going to a Go-Go."
 These dresses in the video are somewhat like the wedding gown I was envisioning for Grace, but Go-Go boots were a must.  Here's a photo of I took while I was making her: 
 And here she is in all her bridal glory: 
 I might decide to remake her head a little wider so it shows off her side curls better, but she's basically ready for her Kickstarter debut.  
 W is for Wallis
who sharpened his nails
so he could tap dance
in white tie and tails!
Wallis is named for Wallis Simpson, an American socialite and fashion icon of the 1930's.
I looked at a LOT of images of white tie and tails for my Wallis, and decided that it would be a great photo if he were in the same pose as Fred Astaire in this image: 
This was a BIG challenge to first figure out all the parts.....
And then to put them all together! 
 I made a stand so I could photograph him for this Kickstarter update, and probably on the final piece, but in the book I'll rig up a fancy hidden support so he appears to be standing alone. 
Okay....now for my favorite cat so far. 
 Y is for Yves,
who struck up a pose.
He likes to call this one
"Schrödinger's Rose."
Y! A Yowler in Yellow Yoga Pants!
Yves was named for the very very famous Yves Saint Laurent. I got to see a show of his work at the deYoung Museum a few years back and it was just fantastic. (It would have been great to have Grace's wedding gown be more like the iconic YSL 'cocoon' design, but that's for another book.....)
I thought it would be a great opportunity to take advantage of the yoga theme and have my cat strike its best Vishnu pose with four arms and the tail all holding iconic cat toys, which presented another construction challenge. Here's my blocked out kitty before I started shaping the parts: 
 and a shot from the top, before painting commenced: 
 I worked hard on this one, because I had a feeling it would become my cover kitty. 
 Here's another studio shot from a slight angle so you can appreciate the form better. It's holding a laser pointer, a mouse, a ball of yarn, a bird and a leaf of catnip. 
 Okay....it's time for me to get a catnap in before I finish up the four I have on my workbench. I had a great boost of pledges yesterday and am now holding at 84%!  Woohoo!  Big love to everyone who has supported this book. Click here if you're now convinced that you want to see Catabet in print and are ready to pre-order your copy today!
And now for your moment of Zen: 

    Wednesday

    Three Cats for your Wednesday Pleasure....

    Hey Beautiful People!
    Bunny with a Toolbelt Headquarters has cats swarming the place so I'm here today to present our three newest Catabet characters! We'll start with Coco, who you met in the Kickstarter video:

     This was a rhyme that came pretty easily for me. The only thing I really changed from the drawing was having Coco hold a baguette rather than a French flag.  Coco, as you may have guessed, was named for one of the most famous fashion designers in the world, Coco Chanel.

     I guess I forgot to take some in-progress shots of Coco since I was pushing to get the Kickstarter video done, but here he is again in his completed state:

     Now for our S character.....

     S is for Stella,
    who loved a yarn ball,
    So she learned how to knit
    and made her own shawl!
    Stella is a Siamese breed, so I'll work that into the final text that follows this rhyme.
    In my studio, I have a big trunk that has tons of wood parts that I acquired through years of perusing thrift stores and gifts from woodturning friends. 

    Stella was made from a giant wood ball I've had in this trunk for years--so many, in fact, that I don't even recall the origin any longer. There was still a thick piece of rope inside from being threaded onto something, which was very easy to remove. I love how you can still see the evidence of the lathe on it--those grooves near the rope fluff are the indents from where it was clamped into the lathe, and the coarse cut marks on the sides. Turning a perfect ball on a lathe means you need to turn it a few times while you shape that form.

     This ball is perfect because it already had a flattened top and bottom, where my head and feet would go! I used another found object for the head--an old wood drawer pull.

     Stella is named for Stella McCartney, the fashion designer daughter of Sir Paul of Beatles Fame and lovely Linda who was a great photographer. 

     This was a fun piece to paint--figuring out how to do the knit pattern was a good challenge and I am happy with the results: 

     Here's a detail shot to show the knit and fringe details on this piece:

     Onward to our F! 

     Another challenging rhyme to work out, but I did it! 
    F is for Fabrice
    whose footie pajamas
    were officially blessed
    by Tibet's Dalai Lama.
    F! A Foldex who Fashionably Catnaps!
    Here's an image of what a Foldex Cat can look like. (They come in a lot of colors.) 

     Fabrice was named for Fabrice Simon, a designer from the 1980's who died from AIDS. 

    I decided to make this kitty lying down, because he's a contender for the front cover where I need a more horizontal piece to fit in with the cover text. Here's how I pieced together the elements to make Fabrice: 

     And here he is, footie pajamas and all!

     Okay....I'm off to the studio and will return in a few days with three more of our cats. I may have mentioned before that I'm aiming to have ten of them done by our halfway point on the Kickstarter campaign, which will be next Monday!  As of this writing, I'm only $1665 away from being funded, so feel free to forward this to any of your Frenchie, Knitter, Buddhist, Nap, Fashion, Kitty-loving friends if you think they'd love Catabet too!
    Thank you so much to everyone who has pledged so far. If you haven't become a part of the fun yet, here's the magic link! 
    take care,
    Hilary

    Friday

    B is for....

    Hey Beautiful People!
    It's time for my second update for Catabet to introduce you to our B character! 

    I was about halfway into writing the text before I came up with the idea to name all the characters after fashion icons, and this was the original name that was hardest to give up--Bartholemew. I loved the punny play on words to have "mew" in the name, plus my guy really looks like a Bartholemew to me. Nonetheless, I have now settled on the name "Bruno" for a multitude of international designers-- Bruno Schiavi of Australia, Bruno Pieters from Brussels, and Bruno Basso from Brazil.

    B is for Bruno,
    who, from this day hereby,pledged to never be seen
    without his bowtie!
    You may have caught a glance at this kitty in my Kickstarter video or the image I initially posted on the campaign page, but I decided that I wasn't quite happy with that initial incarnation so eyes and whiskers have been recently modified to spice him up a little. I might add a boutonniere as well, so don't be surprised if you see that in the book!

    Bruno is a Bengal Cat, which is a breed that looks a lot like a leopard.  I still have to write the very last part of the text on this page, so I'll include that breed name there.

     I loved getting to paint his fancy shoes, similar to my Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker from Alphabird!
    I'm honored to be Kickstarter's featured publishing project today and am crossing my fingers that it will bring me closer to hitting the 75% mark today.....only $270 away from that milestone!  Thank all of you who have helped me get this far in only five days and I can't wait to show you the next eight kitties that I plan to present in the next week!  If you haven't pledged yet, what are you waiting for? Click here to be my valentine by helping me hit 75%!
    Have a great weekend!
    Hilary