Crafty Cats

“There are two means of refuge from the misery of life — music and cats.”
Albert Schweitzer

Albert Schweitzer and I have one thing in common, we like cats.  When I am feeling down, I like to lay on my bed with Angel and listen to her purr.

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Angel, our white cat, can be very comforting.

It is not surprising that when I took up paper mache, cats are the first series I worked on.  The cats I have created from various materials have some connections to my past.  For example, the featured orange cat reminds me of my first cat, Puddy Cat, who we got when I was in first grade. Puddy Cat lived at our family home for 21 years (far longer than I did).  Paper mache, Puddy, has a body entirely of newspaper to provide structure.

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Paper Mache, Puddy Cat

I wadded up paper into balls in the shape of a cat and then taped the paper in a few places to hold it together.

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Brindle Cat with coat of many colors

After I completed, Puddy Cat, I worked on a replica of the Satchel, the lord of the Ashtree Manor.  My first effort at Satch  was constructed of a toilet paper roll and Styrofoam ball for the head.  There was no effort to capture the shape of a cat but rather to express the sleek, stylish nature of a cat through paper.  I was pleased with the actual shape which I may try again.  But the color was all wrong.  I started with a black base coat and instead of creating a grey tiger stripe, I ended up with a brindle cat.  I call this cat, “Cat with Coat of Many Colors”.   My son told me that you always have to begin with base coat being light and then add on the darker colors later.

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toliet paper roll and paper mache frame
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Satchel in paper mache
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The extremely handsome Satchel

My next effort at Satch was a combination of experimenting with glue-based paste which creates a white clay and two toilet paper rolls.  The cat structure that evolved from this effort was quite elaborate.  I painted the cat all white and then layered on the various tones of gray.  I am pleased with the coloring but probably won’t do such an elaborate cat structure in the future.  To accurately capture Satch’s beautiful coat, I need to start with a gray base and then layer on.

I am working on paper mache prototypes because I need to have 10 items for a Christmas bazaar, a fundraiser for women’s scholarships.  When I took in the cats to the planning committee, they didn’t think that cats would sell well at Christmas. I am  now moving on to Christmas angels.  I will blog about my angels, wood nymphs, and sprites soon.

I learned when I was visiting one of my good friends in Wyoming that she spends many hours joyfully engaged in adult coloring. She has many beautiful, brightly huged pictures she has produced.  Coloring for her provides a grounding effect.  Adult coloring has become very popular by providing stress relief and improved fine motor skills.

I told her I got similar joy from working on paper mache. The big different is the coloring books are easy to carry and the pens can be packed in a box.  I have paper,  paint, and glue strewn all over our upstairs playroom. Fortunately, the kids have outgrown the room so I can leave my objects out to dry and paint for long periods of time.

The distinction between art and craft is that art is a creation from an emotional response that cannot be replicated.  Craft usually has a structure and can be replicated by others.  Most of the time, I would define paper mache as a craft with structure and the ability for others to copy.  However, I think in the case of my crafty kitties they are more art than craft.  I will probably not make more cats but the ones I have made have reminded me of my furry feline friends.

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