“My son got me a beginner’s jewelry set a few years ago, and I immediately decided I could make these earrings and raise money for animals,” said Norma Clouse, owner of Catmint Creations, LLC. She had begun volunteering with Animal Advocates in Pittsburgh and saw the need for donations as well as volunteers. As she developed her personal style of drop earrings with semi-precious beads and Swarovski crystals, she determined to donate a portion of her profits to animal rescue, and for cats in particular.
She’ll be selling them at FosterCat’s eighth annual spaghetti dinner, and she’s upped the ante for that event—creating the lovely quilt above to sell at the dinner with the entire selling price of $200.00 as a donation directly to FosterCat.
About Norma and Catmint Creations
“I’ve been making things since I was a kid, I just love to make things,” Norma said in a comment any creative and crafty person can relate to (including me). “When my sisters were running around playing outside, I was making doll furniture.” Over the years, Norma has delved into just about every craft and skill from needlecrafts to woodworking.
In addition she had lessons and training in classical and steel string guitar, shortened after a virus destroyed the hearing in one ear and she developed tinnitus. As she recovered from this both physically and emotionally she wrote her first poem, Amadeus Dreams, and writing poetry felt very natural after that.
She started quilting in the mid-90s and has made lovely wall quilts like the one hanging in her kitchen, from stitching the top to the final quilting of the finished piece.
Four years ago her son gave her that beginner’s jewelry set and she’s been making earrings ever since. They are patterned after her original idea of simple drop-style earrings of precious and semi-precious and glass beads and Swarovski crystals in various sizes and patters, often accented with decorative cap or finial in metal or glass. While she does have cat and dog charms, she’d rather keep them more universal so that she will sell more and benefit the animals more.
“Once I decided to sell these for the benefit of animals, I decided to make my business ‘legitimate’ and registered as an LLC,” she said, and this was when Catmint Creations came to existence.
She began selling her earrings at benefit events for animals as well as in shops sponsored by shelters and rescues, and donating to shelter events. Her earrings are also available in her Etsy shop for Catmint Creations where 20% of her gross sales are donated to two different rescues: FosterCat, Inc. and Animal Protectors of Allegheny Valley. She also donates earrings for sale to WearWoof. When she attends an animal event as a vendor, 100% of her sales are donated.
“I can make these earrings, which I enjoy, and selling them to benefit animals is a real win-win,” Norma said. “I do donate money as well as volunteer, but this way you get other people involved in addition to yourself, and your ability to get people involved and to donate to a cause is invaluable.”
In addition to all these creative activities, Norma has worked a day job in the payroll department at Carnegie Mellon University, recently celebrating her 25th anniversary. “When I retire, I will be able to do so much more for the animals,” she said.
About the quilt
“I got the idea to make a quilt to benefit FosterCat this past spring,” Norma said, but she had another quilt to finish as a wedding gift first. She began this quilt in August and so far has put 18 hours into its creation, piecing together the top.
The pattern for this quilt is called “Cat Naps” by Pam Bono Designs, which Norma purchased from Etsy. The full pattern is intended to be a bed quilt, but she decided to make only nine blocks with a border, and it can be used as a lap quilt or a wall quilt; she will add a pocket on the back to slip a rod through to hang it for display.
Purchasing quality materials is especially important with handmade items like quilts, which can last a lifetime and be handed down through generations. And while you can find quality fabrics on sale, those of us who work with fabrics know that waiting for fabric in the absolutely perfect color and pattern and weight to go on sale is sometimes not an option, so materials for quilts can add up at $10 per yard for fabric and $11 per large spool for quilting thread. Keeping it smaller helps keep down the overall cost and make a reasonable selling price for someone who wants to make a larger donation and get a gift in return.
Purchasing the quilt
This lovely feline-themed quilt will be on display and available for sale beginning at the FosterCat Spaghetti Dinner next Saturday, September 14 in Pittsburgh. The entire selling price of $200.00 will be your donation to FosterCat, helping them to rescue and care for all the cats in their foster homes.
And a giveaway of two pairs of earrings!
I’ve received Norma’s earrings as gifts even before I met her, and I love knowing the purchase of the simple colorful earrings I’m wearing have benefitted organizations I also support and the welfare of cats. Norma and I chose two pairs of earrings to offer as a giveaway to anyone who comments on this post.
The first pair is in warm ginger kitty colors, with a perfectly round bead of rich pure coral and a red glass cap shaped like a flower. The findings and ear wire are in copper, and the pair has an antique, almost Victorian appearance.
For a more modern and flamboyant mood the second pair is in black and white kitty colors with silver. The oval foil bead of clear glass has an inner cylinder of black with thin strips of silver foil wrapped randomly around. The findings and ear wire are polished stainless steel. The photo above doesn’t quite catch the foil bead because of the shadow behind it and the glass captures any colors around it.
For the giveaway
- Giveaway is for both pairs of earrings.
- Giveaway will start today, September 7, 2013, and be finished at midnight PST on Saturday September 14.
- All comments to this post are eligible—if you are not interested, please add that to your comment. It’s much appreciated if you share on social media, but, as always, this is difficult for me to track so it doesn’t increase your chances.
- I will email the winner and announce who won on Sunday, September 15.
And meet Norma’s feline family!
Norma has lived with cats since she was a child, including a black cat with white socks named Mittens. When she married her husband Keith they had no cats while living in an apartment, but soon after moving into their house she came home and found a mouse on the kitchen table. “Guess where we’re going?” she asked her husband, and off they went to the Animal Rescue League and adopted Jarvis who grew to be a big, friendly, mellow orange cat who lived 19 years.
Norma and her husband live with a family of five rescued cats now. Twenty is a big house panther, adopted from Animal Advocates while she was volunteering there. “He was the twentieth cat they trapped and brought in from a feral colony, though they found out later he wasn’t feral at all, though they had already tipped his ear,” she said, pointing to the missing top of his left ear, the universal sign of a community cat who is part of a managed colony and has been spayed or neutered.
Big orange and friendly Buford spent the most time with us as his purr hummed in the kitchen table. “He’s the happiest cat on the face of the earth,” Norma said as she petted him.
His torbie sister Rhea is pretty much his opposite at half his size and “a real troublemaker, the alpha cat”. The two are about 12 and were adopted at 6 weeks old after being rescued in another feral colony rescue. They had no experience with humans and would likely have been considered unadoptable for their hostility, even at that young age, and probably put to sleep had it not been for Norma who took them in and socialized them.
Petite gray and white Gwendolyn is very shy. She was adopted from Animal Advocates as well, and possibly because of her experiences on the streets she is so cautious even about eating and drinking that she never seems to get enough nourishment and is always a little dehydrated. Norma and her veterinarian try for different solutions to Gwendolyn’s condition.
And finally torbie and white Chessie was fostered by a friend. Chessie had been declawed and was surrendered to the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society because she had begun to bite after being declawed. Because animals who bite are very difficult to adopt, she would likely have been euthanized but for the person who agreed to foster her. “She bit us too, not just little nips,” Norma said as she gestured up and down her arm. “I knew if we took her anywhere she’d be put to sleep so we kept her. It was about two years before she quit biting us and she actually became very affectionate, and she adores my husband,” Norma explained.
Norma has never fostered, only volunteered, preferring to adopt the cats she saw were most in need. All of her cats came to inspect my bags when I arrived, followed us around and hung out with us in the kitchen. For all their varied and difficult backgrounds, they are each friendly and social, and our time in the kitchen was a pleasure.
I love to support people who find cats as their muses and who help cats with the things they create. Whether you enter in the giveaway or not, also visit Catmint Creations on Etsy to look at others of Norma’s earrings.
Read more in my series of articles about other artists who are Creating With Cats.
Browse some rescued cats and kittens!
All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile 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.