May Sampler Boxes Are Just About Ready!

Look at all these things I helped to design.
Look at all these things I helped to design.

I received enthusiastic reviews from the recipients of my April Sampler Box, which Mimi is displaying above. This was gratifying—I had put a good bit of thought and planning into the program itself and the contents, and carefully chose items for the very first one. I also chose to make the trinket dish, something completely new rather playing it safe with an item similar to one I’d made before, such as a keepsake box, and I’m glad I set that standard for my gift item choice. Still, you never know if an idea will work until it gets to its destination, and the response was reassuring.

Reviews of the April Sampler Box

Hey. Bernadette E. Kazmarski. You rock. I got my package today. So so love it. The sampler box was amazing. The sketch and watercolor were the very 2 I would pick for myself. I love them. The cards and ceramic piece are fantastic. If anybody was skeptical, don’t be. I received quality photos and sketches that I can admire on my walls for a long time. Thank You Bernadette, a very satisfied customer. I will be a repeat customer.

 Just wanted to let you know that I *love* everything in my sampler.
It was such fun to open and discover each item. I am really glad I signed up for these.
Thank you!!

My box was fantastic! I would have been pleased with less……a great value.

The May Sampler Box

I’m just putting together my May Sampler Box, narrowing down my final choices on a featured print and sympathy, photo and fine art cards and note cards that are appropriate for the season. So many to choose from! And I’m adding a few more features, like a card or print of the monthly featured artwork from The Creative Cat and possibly a sample photo card for feedback as I set up my photo card gallery.

But I’m so excited about the gift item for this next box! I’ve been pushing this idea around for a few months but with the reception of the first Sampler Box I decided I’d go ahead with this little project because it’s a perfect fit, not only for the box, but also for each of the current recipients. I asked a few trusted friends to look it over for feedback and they were pretty enthusiastic about it too. It’s a little book of my artwork to be used for a special purpose, but you’ll have to just wait and see what that purpose is—gift box recipients have an exclusive on the gift item before I introduce it to the general public. Then I will review the contents of the May box as my Marketplace post on the Thursday following the day everyone has received their boxes, so it will be sometime in June that I introduce this product to the rest of my readers.

Sign up for your sampler box

You can still sign up for the May Sampler Box on my Portraits of Animals website.

  • Single box for $25.00
  • Three-box subscription for $75.00.

Below I’ve included my review of the April Sampler Box so you have an idea of the contents.

The April Sampler Box

I am so excited to have shipped out my first set of sampler boxes! It was so fun to choose all the items to include for the prints and greeting cards, but very difficult to narrow down. Most fun was finally making the “Curving Silhouette Trinket Dish” that I’ve been visualizing for months and keeping just for this. Above, Mimi admires all the choices because of course she supervised the whole operation and stars in the featured product, though the weather was so dark around the time I packaged them that the photos are a little dim. Below, she was also unhappy about the purple harness and leash and stayed completely away from me and my photo project until she finally decided to join and…

Oops! I didn't mean to knock that over...
Oops! I didn’t mean to knock that over…



“A Vigilant Nap”, black and white charcoal pencils on gray toned paper, 4.5” x 7”, daily sketch 5/3/13, matted for 8 x 10 frame


  • Sympathy Card: I’ll Always Remember the Way You Looked at Me
  • All-purpose Greeting Card: Two Yellow Cats
  • Photo Cards: A Sunny Room, God I’m Cute
  • Notecard: A Rosy Glow


Curving Silhouette Trinket Dish, 4” round curved dish made from natural white polymer clay, handpainted with black design adapted from a daily sketch

Curving Silhouette Trinket Dish

Curving Silhouette Trinket Dish
Curving Silhouette Trinket Dish

This little trinket dish is 4″ in diameter and made from natural white polymer clay. The black design is adapted from a daily sketch that is actually made from cut paper, in black of course, and Mimi was the model, “Curving Silhouette”.

Each dish is formed and painted individually, and I only made eight of them, so just a few are left, which you can find on Portraits of Animals.

I rolled the clay fairly thin, cut it with a 4″ cookie cutter, and placed it in the bottom of an old cereal bowl and rolled a smaller bowl around the inside to thin the sides but leave the bottom a little thicker, then ran my finger around the edge to thin it out just a slight rounded edge.

The design is painted in matte black soy-based acrylic paint. I did not add a finish to protect it because I wanted the original look and feel of the clay and paint.

I’ve long wanted to experiment with polymer clay and fixated on this design when I first began thinking about my Sampler Box program, so this little dish was part of my first box. This may be my last experiment with polymer clay, though. With all the warnings about its toxicity and my felines’ keen interest in what I was doing, I think I’ll try air-dry clay next time, until the time I can start firing things.

A Vigilant Nap Print

charcoal sketch of cat sleeping
“A Vigilant Nap”, black and white charcoal pencils on gray toned paper, 4.5″ x 7″ © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

I had specified that prints were typically 8″ x 10″ and matted to 11″ x 14″, but I chose this print because when I shared it recently I had a wonderful response to it, and it’s long been one of my favorites. Even though it’s a smaller print I thought it might work well because of its popularity. You can also find this on Portraits of Animals.

Greeting and Note Cards

The cards include a sympathy card, general greeting card, photo card and a note card so recipients have a selection of cards they can either realistically use. We all have friends who have pets, and they are lost all too often so a monthly sympathy card is good to have on hand, and “I’ll Always Remember the Way You Looked at Me” is pretty popular. The greeting cards can work for family, friends, co-workers or to use as small prints, as can the photo cards. “Two Yellow Cats” is not just a Valentine—without the heart it’s a friendship, sympathy, thank you, thinking of you card, or could be a whimsical little print on your wall; these cards will range from fun illustrations to fine art images. Likewise the photo card “A Sunny Room” can be any sort of message, or an image you frame for yourself or for a gift. And sometimes a big greeting card just isn’t what you want to send, so a smaller note card like “A Rosy Glow” suits may purposes and can also be framed.

You can find all varieties of greeting and note cards on this page on Portraits of Animals or visit the galleries listed in the menu.

Use the prints and cards for yourself, gifts or donations to help cats

Any of the prints, whether the main print or a framed note card, can be given as a gift to a family member or friend, or as a thank you to a veterinarian or veterinary technician, pet sitter, groomer or anyone else in your life who would enjoy a cat-themed gift. They can also help other cats by being donated to online auctions or shelter and rescue events to help raise much-needed funds.

Packaging the Sampler Box

Mimi checks to see the package is neatly sealed.
Mimi checks to see the package is neatly sealed.

How to package this was a real conundrum, both for this month and all months going forward. Prints and gift items will be different sizes each month and in looking over boxes I couldn’t find one that would fit just about everything and which I could label. For now I decided to simply group everything and wrap it before I put it in the shipping box. That meant I could include another portion of what comes in the box: wrapping paper, of a sort! I used minimal tape and sheets of my art paper which are heavy enough to withstand a little taping, and that gives you two 11″ x 17″ sheets of cat-themed wrapping paper.

Mimi approves of this idea.

Mimi approves of this package.
Mimi approves of this package.

Order your own Sampler Box

I’m offering a sampler box with a single box or a three month box subscription to each of the lists—visit Portraits of Animals to read about it and sign up for your box. Each box will include the following items in a design appropriate to the audience, cats, nature, or specialty animal professionals or wholesale:

• an 8” x 10” print matted to 11” x 14”, ready to frame OR a small framed print, either an existing piece of artwork or a new one

• two or more greeting or note cards, current designs and new designs

• a handmade or other gift item—a small keepsake box or a little art sampler book, a polymer clay or ceramic item, screen-printed dishtowel, tote bag, crocheted item or rubber stamp, new art paper, for instance

As mentioned above, these can be things your use for yourself or give as gifts or donation items to shelter or rescue or other fundraisers. Sometimes they’ll be little experiments and I’ll be asking for feedback. I’ll be happy that you get to see art you may have never noticed, and little handmade goods that work so much better in your hands than a photo on your computer.

The sampler box without Mimi.
The sampler box without Mimi.

Note about my Etsy shop

I have a profile on Etsy but no longer have any merchandise there, so if you encounter a link to Etsy here or anywhere else on my pages, please go to Portraits of Animals and look up the same item there. I will leave my profile there in case anyone who’s purchased from me before wants to find me, but I will no longer be selling anything on Etsy.


Mimi is in the selection twice.
Mimi is in the selection twice.

Mimi feels she and her children are adequately represented.

Take a look at other new merchandise and featured artwork.

Once a week on Thursday I feature something new in my “shop”, whether that’s here on The Creative Cat, in my Etsy shop, on my main website or even at one of the bricks and mortar shops that carry my work.

Read about creating custom items

Find out more about creating custom items for your own home using the images you see here. Visit the “Ordering Custom Art” page to see samples and read bout how to order.

Find out about events and festivals where you can find me and my work.

Sign up for my e-newsletter (below), check the widget on the sidebar on my home page, or sign up to receive posts on Portraits of Animals Marketplace. I plan on plenty of events this coming summer in the Pittsburgh area.

It’s all done under the close and careful supervision of my studio cats!

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Browse some rescued cats and kittens!


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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© 2020 | | Published by Bernadette E. Kazmarski

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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© 2016 | | Published by Bernadette E. Kazmarski

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

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