For some reason, this photo from 2012 is one of my favorites, cats making light of my laboring—while they are actually laboring themselves as models though they may not realize it.
Mr. Sunshine is rolling around and feeling groovy while Mimi looks at the world from a new perspective. What we humans, especially female humans, see as the ultimate object of drudgery, our cats find to be a source of entertainment and even joy.
I admit, I did warm it up nicely for them, and it has a nice soft pad on it, plus it’s elevated, and as a bonus I was using it and would not let them on it, all criteria for any cat to absolutely need to be up there. Underneath that nice clean muslin cover is a reflective Teflon cover, so it’s like a heated cat shelf. Like some nice fresh black cat hairs with your freshly-ironed tee or tablecloth? They come free with every order unless I go after them. The ironing board cover gets rolled for cat hair more often than any of my garments.
When I screen print or block print a product, the ink needs to be set with heat once it’s dry to make it completely washable. This can be done in the dryer, but then said item is rumpled and looks used, not something you’d want to buy that’s considered new, so it needs to be completely ironed. It can also be set just by ironing for a period of time, and this is what I usually choose to do. But I often end up ironing and entire thing anyway—t-shirts come packed so tightly in the box they practically pop out when I open it, and are sometimes so wrinkled I have to iron them to print. Tablecloths and placemats and other fabric items are made from fabric which I prewash so it needs to be ironed in that case, then often I hem or trim it so that also needs to be ironed. Iron, iron, iron, they don’t tell you you’ll be doing housework when you say you want to be an artist. Good thing I enjoy it; I can sing to my cats or watch a good movie on my computer and the ironing time flies.
And because the ironing board is a little tippy and I know as soon as I leave the room that two or three cats will immediately launch themselves onto it, I actually set it up so it is braced and is very difficult to knock over. The iron is unplugged and placed in a safe spot on the floor.
I can keep these guys from jumping on it while I’m working, and I’ve kept most cats from doing so, but Cookie would have none of that. Unless I ironed outside she would find a way to get onto the ironing board—she couldn’t ever jump that high, even as a kitten—so even if it meant she had to start in another room and step up and up and up from one thing to another she would eventually get up there, prance around and wave her tail and purr, very pleased with herself and happy to have my attention. From last June, I Will Never Get To Retire.
Mamá, they all say, you are incapable of doing all this without our supervision! I should be glad for it, I guess.
Besides that, black cats look spectacular against a background of white cotton and unbleached muslin.
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A little more about my background
If you’d like to read a little bit about how I got to where I am today, I posted a little story on my daily photo and writing blog “Today” entitled “My Own Labor History”.
Labor Days from Years Past
Laboring At What We Love
Sweet dreams to The Five who are sleeping off the ceiling fan installation supervision from yesterday as they celebrate Labor Day and enjoy the fruits of their labors with the ceiling fans happily spinning. I did briefly press them into service earlier today as artist models, other than that, they are off the hook for work. Trust me that Emeraude is resting just as happily upstairs in the tub, her latest happy sleep spot.
On Labor Day I always feature in photos the ways my cats have inspired and assisted me in my work, which in turn celebrates them in their work. I always begin with the photo below, taken in June 2006 just before Lucy came to me, from left: Stanley, Sophie, Kelly, Namir, Cookie and Peaches. All the cats in the photo have now moved on to other endeavors, but I will never forget the love and support they gave me in the years they were with me. I often feature photos of the Five together in groups or all of them in my workspaces, studio, kitchen and desk, but truly my cats always gathered near me as I worked. In this case I managed to jump up and run to the landing to photograph without an of them following me!
You hear about me and my work all the time, but I also try to give credit where credit is due—to my feline family, who through the years have always worked just as hard as me…in their own way. But as I constantly reiterate, they were my inspiration for art, and I might not be where I am today if not for them, showing and selling my art was the basis for my business plan for self-employment along with commercial art, and being able to be at home with them, especially as my first group grew older, was one of the decision points in actually deciding when to take the plunge.
And below, I’ve pasted a few posts of my cats at work with links to others.
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My studio supervisors arrive at work before me! I’m working on starting the day in my studio when my eyes are rested and I have daylight to work with instead of ending it there and working too late into the night.
My tortie girls agree! They’ve been staying up all night with me for more years than they want to remember—after all, they have to supervise me or how could I get any artwork done? The most important role they serve is sleeping on my lap or next to my feet so that I need to stay put and therefore get work done. One would never get up or move while a cat is sleeping.
The younger ones have something to learn from keeping me under control, perhaps someday one of them will show some potential.
Cookie has had a lifelong role in what I do, and this will clarify what she does: I Will Never Get to Retire.
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Okay, okay, I admit I’ve been busy, but do you guys like to eat?! Then you’ll keep doing things like this as inspiration.
I also admit I posted this nearly two years ago, but it’s still appropriate today, as is the text below. The one thing I’d add is two torties on my lap, and Mimi on my keyboard shelf. I have been busy, and I’ve missed sharing a lot of photos.
For now, enjoy somewhat over 50 pounds of black cat on one desk.
They are always doing something unique, that whimsical quartet of siblings, but sometimes they have the right idea. I really was tired, my eyes were strained, I was losing focus at the end of a long day, and one by one the three boys piled up trying to get their point across (we need dinner, you need to stop working), hence the multiple nap. Then Mewsette, the big sister, piled on top of all of them and began bathing them all in turn, causing things to start falling off my desk. Still, I could pile papers on top of them and keep working. When the paws and tails expanded onto my keyboard, I decided to take their advice and quit working for the day.
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While I had enjoyed Cookie’s company in my Portraits of Animals shop room at Carnegie Antiques through the spring, summer was hot and busy, and Peaches needed Cookie’s company too, so Cookie has had to stay home all these months. Yesterday, she gave me the look and I decided I’d love to have her company down there again.
It’s good to be back! I hated the ride in the pink thing and I really let my mom know about it, but once we got here I knew exactly where I was and I got right to work.
Who needs those fancy IKEA cats—I can run around and jump on things as well as any kitty, and I don’t have to share it with 99 others!
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Oh, my! I’ve been waiting ALL DAY for my mom to leave the computer. Eva posted a comment on my blog post last night, and I even sat on my mom in bed this morning trying to get-her-up!
We finally got to the computer and I heard her say, “It’s a good day to concentrate and get things done,” something to do with the weather which is out there and I don’t pay any attention to it, but she barely left her seat for long enough for me to grab a snack and get back before her.
Read more, including a link to Peaches’ decision to apply and her application! Peaches Applies for a Job
Happy Labor Day everyone! We are off to work!
Art and Gifts featuring cats you know! Visit Portraits of Animals
Feline Photography from Portraits of Animals!
Mimi is never so happy as when she’s out in the yard, as you can see by her “happy tail”. She’s so short that I can’t get a good photo of her face without flowers in the way, but perhaps that’s how she wants it.
All images and text used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission, although links to your site are more than welcome and are shared. Please ask if you are interested in using and image or story in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of an image or a product including it, check my animal and nature website Portraits of Animals to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit Ordering Custom Artwork for more information on a custom greeting card, print or other item.
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Weekly schedule of features:
Sunday: Essays, Pet Loss, Poetry, The Artist’s Life
Monday: Adoptable Cats, TNR & Shelters
Tuesday: Rescue Stories
Wednesday: Commissioned Portrait or Featured Artwork
Thursday: New Merchandise
Friday: Book Review, Health and Welfare, Advocacy
Saturday: Your Backyard Wildlife Habitat, Living Green With Pets, Creating With Cats
And sometimes, I just throw my hands in the air and have fun!
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