Sunday, February 25, 2024
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Cardboard Interpretations, a Four-year Retrospective

black cat with box
Mewsette, Interpretive Cardboard Artist
Mewsette’s Debut, Interpretive Cardboard Artist

It is four years since my quiet and introspective philosopher made her debut as an Interpretive Cardboard Artist, listening closely to the cardboard and allowing it to intuitively suggest its inner intentions to her, resulting in unique works of art done by her alone—with no assistance from her human.

Mewsette quietly sits by her latest cardboard creation, briefly demonstrating her technique. If I translate correctly I believe she calls it “Transformation”.

She wants you to know it is not because the box has been transformed from one thing to another by her actions, but that her intervention has allowed the box to lead her in its own transformation. She had long communication sessions with the box about its aspirations, then intuitively used her teeth as her primary tool along the box’s edge to release its inner essence.

Mewsette is very proud.

So am I. Mimi the performance artist, Giuseppe the opera singer and vocalist, Mr. Sunshine the recycled materials sculptor, Jelly Bean the comedian, how did I manage to share my life with this wonderful family of felines?

. . . . . . .

And Now, a Retrospective, Beginning Four Years Ago…It’s Mewsette’s “Happening”


It’s a long one, but it’s a four-year retrospective of a very busy Creative Cat!


New Feline Playground

Cat with cardboard.
Mewsette poses with her latest cardboard interpretation.

Mewsette, interpretive cardboard artist, poses with her latest cardboard statement on the new feline cardboard playground. Each playground area has to have room for creative expression, such as Mewsette’s 3-D experimental cardboard installations and Giuseppe’s practice of his operatic arias. Mr. Sunshine needs some things to take apart and Jelly Bean needs a place to nap. Mimi only needs an enclosed place to sit for a while in order to experience the space from a different perspective.

Below, Mewsette’s newest work from just this morning, “Rectangular Impermanence”, expressing her thoughts on how we need to see past the looming objects that only seem to block the light which we need to let into our lives, rejecting the apparent strength and permanence of solid rectangular shapes which can be so easily modified into a lacy frill with just a little dental treatment. She is particularly pleased with how the morning sun shines through the openings and outlines the now-irregular shape of the box flap. “Nice photographic interpretation of my work. Good job, Mama Bernadette,” she tells me.

Chewed piece of cardboard
Mewsette’s work in cardboard, “Rectangular Impermanence”

Here is the entire construction, at least as it appeared last night and today, at least until I take the boxes to the shelves at the bottom of the stairs and then begin building a new feline cardboard playground somewhere else in the house. They may not have the trendiest toys, but they have no complaint about me keeping things interesting for them.

four cats and cardboard boxes
Four Cats and Three Cardboard Boxes

. . . . . . .

A New Box, and a “Happening”

black cat in box
I’m going to have a “Happening”?

You mean…I’m going to have a “Happening”?

Mewsette isn’t sure she’s ready for her artistic debut, but we all felt like that the first time we put out our stuff for everyone to see. You might call it an “exhibit”. But for those of you who aren’t familiar with the world of art and artists, a “happening” is something well beyond a boring old “exhibit”. It’s a multi-media work in progress where the guests are typically part of the event. We may call Mewsette a “Conceptual Artist” and the “Happening” an “Installation”.

Once Mr. Sunshine got His Lordship out of the new box yesterday, Mewsette had a chance to listen to it and was so completely inspired that she chipped all along the edge, vehemently biting large pieces off and tossing them to the floor below. I don’t like to pressure my Creative Cats where their inspirations are concerned, but I do think it’s time for Mewsette to share her work. I mentioned this to her and explained about the “happening”, and above was her reaction.

But soon an idea began to take form as she crouched inside the box—those are the best, she says, you can really feel what they have to say when you can sit all the way inside them—and thought about how it was to interpret what cardboard boxes had to say to the world, she decided she was more than ready to share her inspirations, especially what she was planning to do with that corner.

black cat in box
Mewsette senses what the box wants to say with the one intact corner.

After a few test bites on that corner she paused for a bit more and put her projects into perspective, in her mind, in her family, in this house. Yes, she was ready. Mewsette is truly looking forward to hosting her “Happening”, and all of you will be invited.

black cat in box
Mewsette ponders her future as a performance artist.

. . . . . . .

It’s My Box, Brother!

two black cats
Mewsette tells Mr. Sunshine to get lost.

I don’t care what you think, Brother Sunshine, it’s my box! I find it very inspiring and I’m waiting for it to speak to me.

Mewsette, boxes don’t talk. Unless there’s something wrong with your head.

The only think wrong here is that you have no appreciation for art, just like the other day when you were critiquing Mama Bernadette’s painting. You looked like a total fool. Now keep your distance, Brother, or you’ll regret it.

two black cats
Take that!

No, I think I have every right to sit here. I’m not touching your stupid box.

I need my creative space! GO A-W-A-Y!

Geez, you artist types are so sensitive!

two black cats
I need my creative space!

. . . . . . .

How it Worked Out

two black cats in box
How it worked out with the box.

Brother and sister can’t stay mad for long. After last weekend’s little tiff about creative space all is well—Mewsette got to communicate with the cardboard and get a start on her latest work, and then Mr. Sunshine apologized with a brotherly bath and they cuddled in the box. All is well.

. . . . . . .

Reaching, Clinging, a New Cardboard Interpretation

black cat in green box
Mewsette pauses to hear what the cardboard remains to say.

Mewsette pauses in her work and listens to the cardboard. She is truly a Creative Cat.

I believe this one is called “Reaching, Clinging” for that frilly edge. Mewsette had begun with a few general large bites as you see on the left, then inspiration really struck her and she couldn’t bite the cardboard fast enough. Forming those cardboard stalagmites is not easy when all you have are teeth and an idea. She had to pause a few times before she finished the entire edge.

She’s been enjoying working in my studio while I’m working as well. The creative space suits us both. As long as she doesn’t hear one of my art prints speaking.

. . . . . . .

Celebrating Boxing Day With Mewsette

black cat with box
Mewsette celebrates Boxing Day.

This is how Mewsette celebrates Boxing Day, but that’s every day! Today was special, though, and she really put all her effort into her latest creation. Afterward she settled into the box to contemplate if it had any more concepts to be interpreted. Apparently that was all the box had to say at that moment. I am left to admire “Unravelled”. She specified it be spelled with two “l”s.

. . . . . . .

Celebrating International Box Day With Renowned Feline Cardboard Interpretation Artist, Mewsette

black cat in box
Mewsette listens for what the box has to tell her about its inner self.

Never sure when the muse will touch her and cardboard will speak to her, Mewsette waits quietly in deep perceptive meditation for a transmission from the cardboard.

We would be remiss at The Creative Cat if we did not celebrate International Box Day with an exhibit of technique by the renowned feline cardboard interpretation artist, Mewsette, who has a special type of communication with cardboard whereby she can hear what the box feels about its inner self. Mewsette’s aesthetic goal is to determine what the cardboard has to say and to interpret that message using the cardboard itself using no other tools than her teeth and claws.

Patience pays for the focused creative mind as Mewsette begins to feel a tingle in her whiskers.

black cat in box
She begins to sense a message…

Then she feels it fully in the brilliant light on her face and ears, the statement from the cardboard! And how fitting—she had begun this piece already and we’d named it “Sunbox” because it holds the sun coming in the window—expressing the box’s inner self—and so Mewsette has pulled along the edge of the box to create rays of cardboard like rays around the sun.

black cat in box
Transmission of message!

There’s always that weird moment in the communication, but it feels good…

black cat in box

Mewsette is ready to get to work.

black cat in box
Now I can continue.

“She always was an odd child, going off on her little explorations and playing by herself now and then instead of wrestling with her brothers, but I guess I just don’t truly understand a creative mind,” says the totally practical mom cat Mimi. “She must have gotten it from one of those fathers…and Giuseppe, well, they certainly don’t get it from me.”

black cat in box
“She always was a little odd…”

But Mewsette and I get along just fine. Mimi will have to learn to understand.

. . . . . . .

The Artist at Work

black cat with shoebox
Mewsette pauses in her creative efforts.

It took a full day, but the shoebox finally spoke its desire to Mewsette. This subject isn’t quite so clear as the others, though, and Mewsette must make frequent stops in her work to listen again, as she does here. We’re not sure what to call this one, either, so it seems she still has some work to do before it’s entirely done. Such a dedicated artist.

black cat with shoebox
Back to work, the side of the box has spoken.

. . . . . . .


black cat biting cardboard
Mewsette starts in on a new cardboard box.

Mewsette, famous cardboard interpretation artist, bites her way along the edge of a new cardboard box, searching for the hidden meanings within the her chosen medium.

There are days I feel like biting a cardboard box to find inspiration too, but fortunately not lately. Mewsette and I have been finding inspiration in plenty of things. Spring awakens such things.

. . . . . . .

Unexpected Frills

cat scratching cardboard box
Mewsette, famous feline cardboard interpretation artist, gets to work early, while the inspiration of dreams is fresh.

“I like the idea of taking the edges off these dull rectangular boxes,” says Mewsette, famous feline cardboard interpretation artist as she dexterously adds a few early-morning touches to her latest endeavor at finding the statement hidden within the cardboard. “It’s a metaphor for life.”

Mewsette’s newest work is called “Unexpected Frills”, and true to her word she is taking the edges from a very dull rectangular cardboard box. But not all the edges—Mewsette does like her statements in contrast and has chosen just one section of the box to skillfully peel the layers of paper that make the corrugated surface and pulling them up in strips so they can curl, and it looks as if the box is either losing its stuffing or some organic matter is growing from a spot about two-fifths down from the top of the box, only on one edge.

“This is what is ‘unexpected’,” Mewsette adds, “you don’t expect to see extemporaneous frilly things as part of a rectangular cardboard box.

“The box does not want to be rectangular. And it’s another statement in my series of works describing impermanence, much like our human talks about those buildings that start sprouting trees from the roof, nature always reclaims what is hers. I am helping this cardboard box in reclaiming its true nature.”

Wherever did Mewsette get that idea? But it is a lovely work. I’m going to have to be very careful when I need to open this carton to use the Priority Mail shipping boxes inside.

cardboard box with claw marks.
“Unexpected Frills”

. . . . . . .

Another Day, Another Box

black cat with box
Mewsette poses with her latest experiment.

“This box won’t give up its secrets so easily,” Mewsette comments on her latest work.

Mewsette has put some time into pondering this box and made a few experimental tastings. She has found the box to be rather rigid and uncommunicative.

Now it’s time for Mewsette to rest and ponder her discoveries and visualizations. A sunny spot is most amenable to like activities. Such is the life of the famous feline cardboard interpretation artist in her work. The human must not move the box as Mewsette ponders its message.

black cat in box
Now it is time to nap and dream.

This pattern she calls “Wandering” because it describes her wandering thoughts as she impressed it on the box.

black cat in box
She tested the other edges as well.

. . . . . . .


black cat in box
Mewsette is disappointed in the box she has chosen for interpretation.

Actually, I’m sure she didn’t expect the box to taste like pineapple, but Mewsette certainly did expect it to hold together through the finishing of her newest project. After she and Giuseppe had napped in it off and on and she’d done a bit of work between naps, the sides began collapsing.

I asked Mewsette if she thought this might not actually also be something the cardboard might want to express to the world. So though Mewsette was disappointed, she agreed to continue this important work in discovering the voice of the cardboard, and she also asked me to leave the carefully placed scraps where they were on the table. They were part of the work.

Unfortunately, the box completely collapsed after another series of naps, but Mewsette still said that was also what the cardboard had to say and considered it a progressive installation. Also, there was a bit of tabletop hockey with the scraps, but it was, after all, an interactive installation. I admire her flexibility.

. . . . . . .

Art Papers, Cat Papers, Cardboards and Decoys

black cat among papers
Art papers.

March 3 several years ago, Mewsette looked a little chastened after I explained that certain papers were not really meant for kitties to sit on. The next March 3 we had a similar discussion of cardboard, and I gave the group something to do while I framed a few fragile images. It always reminds me that kitties can’t tell what is a toy and what is not if we have items that can be easily confused, and I certainly do! Mewsette explains…

I did not know those were “art papers”. I thought they were cat papers. I thought all papers were cat papers. But Mama Bernadette got very excited and made some very strange noises when I sat in the middle of a nice large piece of paper, big enough for me to stretch out and have a really good bath. She gets excited and makes very strange noises about other things we do, but these were not those noises.

She made me leave the paper and I thought she was going to move it, but then she did not and I got back on it and began to bathe again. She picked me up and put me on the other table, and every time I went to step up on the table she pointed her finger at me and said my name in a way that was not so nice.

Humans have many rules, and some of them are not fair. And I still cannot tell the difference between cat papers and art papers.

Cardboards, and more, 2013

black cat with mat board
Mewsette LOVES to scratch cardboard–but not my expensive mat board!

We all know that Mewsette is a very talented cardboard interpretation artist, and aside from her creative endeavors she always enjoys the feeling of cardboard between her toes and under her claws. I encourage this, and of course the sitting on papers is a famous feline habituation, but like the papers last year, it creates some confusion for kitties. When I’m working in my studio, I am careful to not only move all plastic items out of Mr. Sunshine’s chewing reach, but I also wrap up all cardboards that contain items I want to keep, and all mat boards that I use in framing, which was the subject today. And much as it was always fun, I never tickle their noses with my paintbrushes unless I want a well-chewed paintbrush at my table, and a pile of something nasty on the floor with polyester fibers mixed in. Likewise pencils, pastels, and little bits of hardware.

black cats with mat board
Using my mat board as a fort? NOT!!

So preparing for framing is truly fun and games! But with small hardwares and big pieces of glass, it can be dangerous. I lay out a few things and let them walk around, then set out a few things as a decoy. Like a ping pong ball in the tub.

three black cats looking into tub
I tossed a ping pong ball in the tub for them to play with.

And their very own piece of cardboard.

five black cats with cardboard
Everyone comes to investigate the rolled piece of corrugated board that wrapped a frame.

Mewsette was struck by the muse in a big way once she’d introduced herself to this fun toy, and in no time had a new piece going as I worked in my studio. I’m beginning to see a correlation between my work times and Mewsette’s inspirational moments.

black cat with cardboard
The cardboard mewse speaks to Mewsette as she begins another important work.

The party’s over. After a vigorous play session, they all settled down for naps. I finished a few hours of framing without interruption or feline assistance—and no black cat hairs under the glass in my frames! And, of course, I cleaned up the mess. But that’s only an extension of my own mess.

two black cats asleep
The party’s over. Mewsette and Giuseppe settle on the well worn cardboard after having made a big mess.


. . . . . . .

The Sunbox

cat sleeping in box
Mimi enjoys a nap in her sun-filled box.

Mimi has a nice quiet nap in the Sunbox, which is what we’ve come to call Mewsette’s recent creation that rests at the top of the stairs. Not only does it catch the sun as it flows in the window to create a sunpuddle, but Mewsette found the cardboard wanted to express the rays of the sun along its edges, so she interpreted that idea along the edge, added many different textures along all the edges. Mimi looks very pleased with her daughter’s creation.


. . . . . . .

Cardboard Inspiration

black cat in box
Mewsette models with her work.

I guess if I can have a creative and productive day, my felines can too. My feline cardboard interpretation artist was inspired by the box I’d intended to use for sorting orders.


Large Model Cat Sorter
Large Model Cat Sorter

“Get to work so we can get to our nap.”

Large Model Cat Sorter, avg. capacity three adult house panthers, suitable as a supervision platform or temporary nap area (product will deteriorate when overfilled with reclining models), purr-fect for those busy days when you plan to make a mess of your own without the participation of creative paws. I put this box lid on the table to sort things into, left the room and came back to find that its purpose had been modified.

A misguided decision on my part. Glad my felines could set me straight on that point.

But it didn’t take Mewsette very long to feel the cardboard had something to say and then interpret it in her unique method. The cardboard flew as she bit into the edge and tossed the bitten bits off onto the table top. Soon, one of our familiar Western Pennsylvania hilltops appeared in green, in silhouette. She was creating a landscape. Reading my mind purrhaps?

Detail of Mewsette's latest work.
Detail of Mewsette’s latest work.

Really great work requires a resting period, and contemplation. Mewsette settled in to hear if the cardboard had any more to say. Apparently it did not.

Mewsette in contemplation. black cat in box
Mewsette in contemplation.

. . . . . . .

Package Inspection and Approval

Black cat looking at cards.
“Make certain the cards are lined up properly prior to running the scoring blade.”

I have a house full of working cats who are happy to wake from their naps to help me with my daily tasks and offer their opinions in no uncertain terms. Mimi supervises the scoring and folding of greeting cards, above, and below she inspects the interior of a box prior to packing it with a customer’s order.

black cat in box
Mimi inspects the interior of a box prior to packing “This box is the proper size and correctly assembled.”

And no box is ready to be sealed shut and sent on its way without the “stamp” of approval from Mewsette, my feline cardboard interpretation artist, who daylights as a parcel approval manager.

bit marks in cardboard box
Mewsette’s mark of approval.

. . . . . . .

And Today…

black cat on table
Mewsette closely watches me work.

Mewsette has been exploring a medium closely-related to cardboard: fome-core. It’s stiff styrofoam coated on both sides by two-ply paper that I use to back my artwork when framing, so there’s quite a bit of the stuff around. Of course, the talented and inquisitive Mewsette would find a piece and ponder what it has to say as she initially did with her cardboard interpretations.

This medium doesn’t give up its secrets so easily Mewsette finds as she gives a few test bites along the edge. Thicker, she can’t pull the material off but can use her teeth to make interesting punctured patterns.

black cat on table
Mewsette’s latest thoughts.

Note the clever arcing pattern of dots make by dragging a tooth over the top surface. She has only just met the medium and already Mewsette is experimenting with new techniques and creating successful works.

Mewsette calls this one “Distant Thoughts” as the arcs remind her of purple hills at the end of an expanse of dark blue desert under a pink sky which she has never seen.

A closeup of the pattern.
A closeup of the pattern.

I told her that I needed to use this piece of fome-core for a framing project, but that I would preserve her work. At the top, she watches carefully as I cut around her creation. Below, as always, she adds her own special happiness to the framed work.

We had a bit of a discussion about the relative cost of cardboard versus fome-core, and that material being something I had to purchase and while I sometimes found deals it was not inexpensive.

black cat on table
Mewsette has to add her own special happiness to every project.

“Don’t I deserve ‘real’ art materials if I’m an artist?” Mewsette asked.

“Yes,” I answered, “but a central element of your aesthetic philosophy is that we find art in everything, and that we recycle and reuse as many things as possible.”

“You weren’t using that piece of stuff,” she said.

I will never win this one.

Read more about Mewsette, the famous feline cardboard interpretation artist!



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3 thoughts on “Cardboard Interpretations, a Four-year Retrospective

  • mewsette…theeze bee de best box figurin out stuff ……interpurrtayshinz…..we haz seen… like sinz catz started givin ta chew two a box !!!!! 984 paws UP !! ☺☺☺♥♥♥

  • Dirty Harry, our street stray, was a box-chewer, though he sort of got over it the longer he was with us. Lovely pictures.

    • That’s a great name! Mewsette kind of grew into it, but she also eats lettuce and broccoli. I worry about her teeth but so far exams are good.


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