Tag Archives: Sewing

Cats Helpful, Not Helpful

Standard

This is the time of year where I work on costumes for a local high school musical. We’re doing Bye Bye, Birdie, a bouncy musical set in the 1950’s. (Imagine lots of circle skirts and Americana.)  At first, the cats were very interested in assisting, that is, until they realized that there are no actual birds in the show.

Cat looking at vintage patterns

Lucy likes to give design advice and has a good eye for color.

Cat sitting atop clothes.

Bean, ever the rational one, knows when to question my decisions. Here she asks, “you’re not really going to do that, are you?” She’s saved me from bad decisions more than once.

Sleeping cat on a sewing table.

Vera is content to allow work to progress, as long as she has a place on the sewing table.

Your Itinerant Attack Cat

Standard
Handmade Books

Just a sampling of my handmade sketchbooks and journals.

Directly after Drawlloween, I turned all of my attention to production for the Holiday Art Market where I sold my handmade paper goods. Namely, journals and sketchbooks that I bind by hand, with covers of original design. In preparation for the show, I completed 90 books and orbs in just fourteen days! I’ve been blogging about my progress and describe one bookmaking process here, give an update here,  and then discuss my paper orbs in a later post.

Art fair booth set up

Attack Cat Studio at the Holiday Art Market.

I had a successful showing this weekend and visitors to the market seemed to really like my work. Since this was the first full-on beta test for Attack Cat Studio, I feel pretty good about the results. It was especially interesting to watch people interact with the displays. For example, some of the book stands are a little tippy. But, the flow of traffic through my booth seemed to work well. I also collected a few contacts who are interested in taking a bookmaking class with me in the winter.

Attack Cat Studio Logo

In addition to connecting people with sketchbooks and journals, I get to talk with cat lovers who notice my logo. The most frequently asked question is, “Which one is the attack cat?!”

Now, I prepare for another show, this one in December, at the Merry Maker’s Marketplace. I have new images to print for book covers, larger sketchbooks to create, and lots of pocket-sized journals to replace. If you’re interested in seeing some more of my work, you can check meow-t on Etsy.

Cat in a Box

Miss Bean, the original Attack Cat.

A Stitch in Time

Standard

Today, in an attempt to catch up from being totally distracted by Drawlloween (see this you don’t know what I’m talking about,) I sewed together 45, yes, f-o-r-t-y-f-i-v-e, books just waiting for covers. I have an art show the second weekend in November, and I’m a little behind on production as I was having too much fun drawing kitties the entire month of October. Aside from being tired from sitting for 15 hours, I did binge watch about 8 episodes of Grimm, season one. And, while I was flanked by cats both on the couch and in the studio, sadly, there are no felines in the photo of today’s efforts.

Pile of text blocks.

I sewed all of these together today.

Any Cross Section Through a Sphere is a Circle

Standard
Any Cross Section Through a Sphere is a Circle
Group of Paper Balls

Better in Batches. I learn a lot more by producing multiples.

I’ve been working on these beauties off and on for a week or so. Each handmade paper circle, some twenty-four to thirty per orb, was hand cut and sorted by color and pattern. The orb was then carefully sewn using book binding techniques. The end decorations were made by covering aluminum buttons with dyed cloth.

Sewing the Orb

I used a basic book binding technique to sew the individual folded circles to make the orb.

I continue to consider further possibilities for this structure and enjoy the process of making them a lot. But, that’s where it falls apart. I still haven’t figured out how I’m going to fashion the hanging device in a way that is suitably elegant. Ornament cap? Bead hanger? Hidden screw eye? Or maybe they don’t hang at all. Maybe there are just sweet little buttons on both ends. I would like to be able to suspend the spheres from a decorative cord while enclosing the top opening. I have some ideas yet to try. If you have a suggestion, I’d love to hear from you!

Make Your Own Cat

Standard
Make Your Own Cat

A few years ago, I constructed a prototype toy cat using scraps of hand-dyed fabric and some beans for stuffing. The resulting creature, let’s call him Stuffed Cat One, was entertaining, but not quite what I was trying to achieve. I learned a lot at that time, like, I don’t like working that small, the arms should be longer, the head isn’t dimensional enough, it needs a puss nose and whiskers. It’s kind of a long list. For whatever reason, I woke up this morning, three years later, determined to take another go.

Pink Beanie Cat

Here’s the original! Stuffed Cat One.

Stuffed Cat Two, assembled from black cotton, is fresh off the design table. It was not easy going. First of all, black is impossible! A lint collector of the first degree and hard to see details, I struggled with keeping it clean and concise.

Making a Stuffed Black Cat

Heads, legs, arms, and a tail. Plus, the unstuffed body of Cat Two.

Second, there are some proportions I would change. The distance from the nose to the neck seam is too long for a cat. The narrow arms and legs next to the puffy torso make Stuffed Cat Two look like a cousin to Piglet from the Hundred Acre Wood. The size and placement of the ears may be adding to this problem. The eyes give him that Toothless look from How to Train Your Dragon. However, these eyes are an improvement over the first attempt where I sewed on amber-colored jewels that made Stuffed Cat Two look like Super-Freako Sparkle Kitty.

Stuffed black cat.

The finished prototype. He has whisker issues, but he seems friendly.

Don’t get me wrong. Prototypes are important. I didn’t wake up thinking I was going to make Two, the Amazing Forever Cat. Besides, frustration is instructive. I learned that I like working this size better. I think the overall shape of the nose is improved over Stuffed Cat One. And, during construction, I figured out some shortcuts that would help if I wanted to make more than one at a time.

Stuffed Cats

Stuffed Cat One and Stuffed Cat Two, side by side, for comparison.

It is unclear whether or not I will now, or sometime in the future, create Stuffed Cat Three. All of my observations will guide me should I decide to make adjustments and try again. I just have this romantic notion of a herd of Stuffed Cat minions, all fun and funky, looking down at me from a decorative shelf. No matter what I decide, I’m sure you’ll hear about it one way or another.

Learning By The Book

Standard
Learning By The Book

It’s been an interesting transition for me from teaching in a school setting where there are requirements, grades, and some continuity from one class period to the next, to workshop teaching where the time is limited to a few hours, and the class is more about acquiring an experience based on a single skill. Believe me, this is a BIG adjustment for me. I’m used to having multiple class periods to introduce, reinforce, and direct an in-depth project or skill set. Instead of thinking long-term, I have to focus more on teaching something that can be accomplished in a short period of time, yet still be a challenging, rewarding experience for the participants.

Beautiful books made by adult students in my bookmaking class.

Beautiful books made by students in my bookmaking class taught at Blackbird Studios.

I recently guided students in a bookmaking class, keeping in mind the shift to one-time experience-style instruction. The participants were determined, yet nervous, in their intention to make a book, so I went step by step through the process, which included:

  • selecting and folding all of the papers,
  • preparing the edges for sewing by poking carefully measured perforations on each fold,
  • binding the pages together by sewing over the tapes, into each page,  and linking the ends,
  • and, finally, gluing the covers together.

The class was scheduled to meet for two hours, but ran over by about thirty minutes, as I underestimated how long it would take the group to finish. (Every time I teach, I learn something new about my process and how I might do things differently.) Despite the extra time, I think all the participants were amazed with their creations and left proud of their new books!

15 Minutes of Fame on Caturday

Standard

I’m doing some printmaking featuring Lucy as the subject. Thoroughly unimpressed that she is the art star of this Caturday, Lucy snoozed on the cat tree through all phases of the process. The base paper is Italian handmade cotton rag stained with Windsor and Newton Ink. Additional layers include sewn-on collage elements, acrylic paint, and textile screen printing ink.  Vera supervised the work, complaining the whole time about the mess, and at the injustice being left out.

Printmaking process with cat

In the cat tree, Lucy snores loudly as I toil away to create her 15 minutes of fame.

Cat in Art Studio

Vera pouts about not being the famous cat.

Telling Your Story

Standard
#blank book #journal #sketchbook

Hand made journal or sketchbook. Suede, stitched cover, watercolor paper. Carol Parker Mittal

I’ve always kept a blank book around. I started my first diary when I was 10 years old. It became a habit that I would follow my whole life. My diaries have evolved into sketchbooks over the years and I can’t imagine not having a place to put my ideas, solve problems, draw pictures, or make lists. That’s why I make hand made books. My blank books are for people who need a place to pursue and store their personal expressions. Check out my new Etsy shop and see what I’ve been up to at Attack Cat Studio.

Caterday Costumes

Standard

I’ve been working on costumes for a local production of The Wizard of Oz. First dress rehearsal is this Monday, so I’ve been super busy creating munchkins, flying monkeys, and the rest of the characters. Here are some snapshots of my faithful assistants “helping” me with the costumes. Vera does quality control by laying on all of the fabrics, testing them for comfort and durability. Lucy goes through the scraps and trims, looking for useful bits of decoration before the broom takes away the excess. And Miss Bean is the project manager. She oversees the operation, keeping the work orderly, ensuring that the pattern pieces don’t get disheveled by anyone but her. Thanks for checking in! Now, I’m off to see the wizard!

image