Saturday, April 20, 2024
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The Artist’s Life: The Importance of My Own Designs

Basil checks out the cookie cutter and the kitties.
Basil checks out the cookie cutter and the kitties.

OMG OMG it worked! I made a cat-shaped cookie cutter from one of my sketches but not for cookies–these are polymer clay kitties ready to be decorated for refrigerator magnets, pins, pendants, and who knows what else I’ll come up with. I have never ever seen a cat cookie cutter I liked and besides I would rather have one in my own design to make these things. I used a piece of scrap metal and needle-nosed pliers. I see more designs coming soon!

Yes, I did finally work out the manufacture of my own “die” or basically a cookie cutter to use for creating consistent shapes of one of my sketches. It’s true—I’ve never found a cat cookie cutter that I liked or wanted to use. Most are arched-back Halloween cats or so distorted that I doubt the designer knew what a cat looked like. That’s one of the reasons I designed my own animal sympathy cards too.

But as I move forward with creating unique handmade goods, though there are millions of pieces of artwork out there to choose from including plenty of cats, I want my own designs to represent not only me but the lifetime of felines who inspired me.

I had the idea from last year when I began making tiles and thought about other shaped items too, decorating them with colorful floral designs, and cat markings, of course! I browsed all the cookie cutters I could find just to cut the shape then add my own idea to the surface, and there wasn’t one cat I was remotely interested in using.

The idea was burning in my head while I worked out the best way to put it together. Like when I worked out imprinting my art on tiles I knew it would take time to play around and make a few mistakes, and that’s part of the fun of design. I asked my retired friend Bill if he had any lightweight flexible scrap metal and ideas for how to shape it into what I wanted. There are specialized tools for this, and I took shop class along with a lot of other middle school girls so I am familiar with them and even own a few. Bill gave me some pieces of metal, and I know has the tools but I wanted to start simple. A little experiment would tell me if it was going to work at all.

I started out by choosing shapes that would work well for a silhouette, one sitting and one in a loaf, and printed them out to a good versatile size for all the purposes I had for it. Then I got my strip of metal and, holding it on its edge around the art, I began bending it to fit the outlines of the shape using the needle-nose pliers I use in framing. It was rough going because the shape is small, but when I got all the angles in and pushed the overlapped ends of the metal together and it looked like my sketch I was so excited I wanted to call someone immediately and share it. Instead I pressed on, clipped the shape together with binder clips, refined it a little more, and determined the best way to hold the ends together, decided on a small bolt and nut. I drilled a hole through both pieces of metal and connected them, then ran upstairs and turned on the oven to start making kitties! Cutting the clay with it worked so well that in just about 10 minutes I had a dozen kitty shapes. Making the cutter only took about an hour. Letting time pass while I work out an idea of the best way to do something is always worth it.

A closeup of the cutter.
A closeup of the cutter.

Today was a big day for polymer clay because I have an animal-themed event in two weeks. I made a stack of square tiles and a few round and oval ones, and a few dozen round, square and oval shapes to use as pendants, refrigerator magnets, pins and other uses. You’ll see them soon here and on my website.

All these things represent me and my cats, and cats in general. When people see something they like or feel is beautiful or worthwhile, they like the subject even more. I like to note to customers that not only is all my art based on real cats instead of using clip art, it’s based on cats I’ve rescued. I like being able to add the diversity of my own styles in fine art to what’s available.

So sometimes I disappear for a weekend, and typically I’m here “burning the transmission fluid” as another retired neighbor would say about me and my ideas. I always come back with something new. And my cats are annoyed because I’m in my own little world, but then they’re happy because I’m happy.

Bella sniffs the newly-made cookie cutter.
Bella sniffs the newly-made cookie cutter.


Read more articles in The Artist’s Life series.

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Jelly Bean has a sudden inspiration and reaches for the brushes.
Jelly Bean has a sudden inspiration and reaches for the brushes.

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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!




From health and welfare to rescue and adoption stories, advocacy and art, factual articles and fictional stories, "The Creative Cat" offers both visual and verbal education and entertainment about cats for people who love cats, pets and animals of all species.

8 thoughts on “The Artist’s Life: The Importance of My Own Designs

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  • da tabbies o trout towne

    B; great job; this turned out extremely well; happy for you and I hope ya sell a $#!^S load
    at the market coming up. Just a thought; but when you add your name to the back, maybe include
    each one of the cats’ name as well; “hand crafted by B kazmarski & mimi” for example !! sorta
    for fun 🙂 ♥♥

    • Thanks for the advice, Tabbies! I thought I had responded to you and Carol and Vicky but I had connection problems since a power outage on Sunday. Aside from occasional outages for a few minutes here and there we are back up.

      I decided to just go ahead and add these even though I had to take the time to work out the cookie cutter. That was fun! I always write on each piece I make “handmade by….” and the name of the design, and if that doesn’t include the name of the feline model(s), I add it. My forever thanks to them.

    • I’m looking forward to decorating them, both solid colors and stripes and spots and—florals?! Yes, calico cats! and I have another shape that I just might make up too.

  • It takes not only talent, but hard work to make one’s art come alive! Sometimes, things go together easily, and sometimes you have to work it, rework it, and try again and again, to get the result that makes your heart sing! I watched a documentary about stand-up comedians, and more than one said they had a joke that they’ve been massaging and editing for YEARS…and that’s just one joke! I’m not even an artist, but picking out what I want on my business cards actually took many days, so it’s the human condition, I guess.

    • I don’t even notice the time go by when I’m working something out, and now, even though I don’t have the graphic design I used to for income, I am loving the time I can spend focusing on these projects. I hope it leads to more sales. It’s certainly leading to more happiness.


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