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The challenge I took today from Noah Scalin’s “365” book was to make something from a disposable bag.  I (weirdly?) love the soft texture of produce plastic bags.  I have a large collection of them in the trunk of my car to reuse when I go grocery shopping. Disposable plastic bags kinda drive me crazy with their wastefulness and horrible impact on the environment, but I haven’t found a replacement for my produce bags yet.  So… I debated how to make a cat for a while in my head.  I played with painting acrylic paint swatches on a produce bag, cutting them out and sewing them together. Which worked. Then I looked around on Deviant Art and Etsy at cute plushies to figure out what I did and didn’t like for designs and planned my cat. I decided I really only had time to do a stuffed kitty head.  And these are the things I learned:

1) I like acrylic paints – good, fast coverage, bright colors and fast drying

2) acrylic paints don’t like plastic bags – areas with thick paint dried and pulled the plastic into some mildly distorted shapes & when handled, the paint flakes off. For this reason, I decided to put the painted side on the inside of the head, so the shiny plastic side would be the side people touch… which leads to point 5) a little later

3) produce bags are like tissue paper when you sew them – fragile and prone to tearing

4) I must pull in my designs far enough away from the edges to be visible when planning a very round head (the heart and stitch pattern on the back of the cat ended up kinda under the head, not on the back of it).

5) deciding to paint from the back side of a project can be tricky – I smudged some of the white paint, but covering it over with black paint from my side won’t help – have to clean the paint off

6) I need good lighting (a book light) and magnifying glasses to sew black thread on black plastic, wow I’m getting old.

7) make sure when sewing pieces together, the inside is really going on the outside as a finished project. I reversed them and had to pull a handful of back-stitches out, flip the pieces over and start again. no big deal but not a time saver, for sure.

Anyway, this project included lots of learning. And I actually do kinda like the final piece.  I really do have a thing for gothic, cute, monster plushies.  Anyway, here’s the project:

Sketched, cut and beginning to paint. (The right hand piece is the back of the head. I didn’t like the eyes and planned to paint it black.)

Waiting for the paint to dry.

Sewn and turned inside out. Lots of paint came off with this step.  Now it’s ready to stuff from the gap in the right cheek.  (Looks like a deflated balloon to me.)

Front view. You can see through the missing paint to see the other plastic bags stuffing him.  I actually kinda like it.  Gives it an old grungy feel.

Back side. Ooops, the heart and stitch pattern ended up on the bottom.

My mess when I was done, which is like a kitty of its own.

And now I need to find a place to keep him where Chaos the orange cat can’t reach him as Chaos is a plastic eating fiend! He loves both chewing or peeing on plastic. Ugh.

The assignment I chose to follow today from Noah Scalin’s “365: A Daily Creativity Journal” was to make something that is not normally cute and cuddly into something that is. I thought about this challenge for days, originally envisioning a hunched, hissing, black cat made into a little (“cute & cuddly”) felt doll. But it seemed kinda predictable. There are items like that in all our local stores with Halloween approaching. Then it popped into my head as an image: a swiping paw with sharp claws extended (definitely not cute or cuddly)… made into a “doll.” It’s funny that my hubby came to me a little later that day with the same idea. I started the project at work during a break, and finished it at home after midnight. And I was lucky enough to have my lap kept warm by a chihuahua puppy at the beginning and a cat at the end of the project.

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20111026-005843.jpg I was much happier with sewing on the details (in this case, footpads) first rather than gluing them or adding them later as I did with the other felt projects. The foot did look so cute and cuddly as I sewed the pink pads on the black felt, I was actually a little startled at how (relatively) aggressive it looked once I started adding the nails.

Hope you have a lovely day!

Hug a cat… with caution! (hee hee)

The assignment I followed today from “365: A Daily Creativity Journal” was to take something old and make it look new.  I actually started working on this project about a week ago. I found an old sled and an old metal patio chair out in one of our barns, that could use some serious cleaning up and paint and thought I could paint a cat on one of them.  But seeing as I’m working to keep projects a little shorter, I settled on this cat I bought for $1.00 at a thrift store – much smaller, less work and time involved.

And as I was totally indecisive about what pattern to put on him, I went with the cat most voted for yesterday – Tiger with stripes.

Napoleon stopped in to help. (His housemate, Chaos stopped in too. But he almost stepped in the oil paints and was banned from the table before a cute picture could be taken.)

And I broke out my oil paints and decided what colors to use. Acrylics would have been easier as they dry faster, but I have what I have.  I picked a tetrad – red, yellow, green, violet. This was the first time mixing paints with a real goal in mind, so it was a good exercise to make the colors I wanted.Weird, half-finished cat with creepy double eyes.

And the finished product.It’s not a bindi, he has a hole in his forehead and tail – I suspect he once hung from a wire between them.I like that he’s bright and had a total makeover. Not sure I like the red and yellow.  Maybe I could have done a triad of colors with green, violet and orange.  Hmmm. I don’t see myself repainting him anytime soon, though. This took about 4.5 or so hours to set up, paint and clean up. Add photography time and posting… maybe 5.5 hours.   I’m still not good at planning time, but I’m working on it.  And working on choosing colors and mixing them.  Learned I also need smaller oil brushes – had to use an old small watercolor brush for this. Overall, it was another project with lots of learning.  Good times!

 

12/18/2011 This piece took 45 days to dry fully! Kept getting green and purple on my fingertips checking it. But it finally was dry on November 19, 2011.

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Today’s kitty is a tiny cat head that I made at the kitchen table while visiting family. I think he needs a magnet glued to the back of him and he can live on a refrigerator.

Another quick cat today. Another cute cat. Not sure I’ve gotten felt cats out of my system. So you might see more of them. We’ll see. And I definitely have more cute cats in my system!

I like that this project is rekindling my interest in fine arts, too. I’ve been reading a little of Simon Schama’s The Power of Art. Two interesting quotes:

“Great art has dreadful manners…. Merciless and wily, the greatest paintings grab you in a headlock, rough up your composure and then proceed in short order to rearrange your sense of reality.” (p 6) Hmmm, I don’t think my cat projects are doing that to you as a viewer… yet! (mwahahaha)

“…it’s quite true that for every van Gogh there’s an imperturbable Cézanne; for every Jackson Pollock, a Matisse; for every painter driven by furies, countless more who have gone to work and lived their lives in a state of disciplined serenity.” (p 10) Good to hear you don’t need to be insane, mentally unhealthy &/or self-destructive to be an artist. Although I am absolutely not in a state of “disciplined serenity” myself. If it’s a sliding scale between completely destructively insane on one end and healthy, stable and sane on the other, I’m probably slightly to the stable side of midline, and I like it there!

The next few cats will be quick ones out of necessity. And I’m hoping my paints will arrive early next week and I can begin some exercises with them. Woo hoo! Then: look out! My cats will put you “in a headlock.” Just kidding! My cats are nice… usually. :)

I was inspired by a book I found at a local art supply store called, “The Cuter Book” by Aranzi Aronzo and made this kitty. My design, but his suggestions for how to glue, sew and stuff the doll.
Today I learned that I want to sew all facial features first, then end with all glued facial features. Oooh, I have to fix the center of his mouth with some glueing. Well, that may become an updated photo tomorrow.

It’s so little, especially compared to the cat doll, here are a couple of photos for size comparison.

And Christmas is coming early this year!  Today I ordered some M Graham watercolors, M Graham oil paints and some Bristol boards online.  I’m so excited!! I can begin some of the color exercises in my books and start to learn to paint.  Next I’ll add some Golden acrylics, but that may be a while.

The coolest thing about this project is how happy I feel.  So grateful to Noah Scalin and all the other 365er’s who inspire me!!! And thank you for visiting and looking at my rudimentary creations!