Wednesday, May 22, 2024
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Tortie Girls Trays Are Here

wooden trays with tortoiseshell cats
Tortie Girls wooden trays!

I’ve found another place to show off my tortie girls! As another selection of designs in the keepsake items I’m creating with my artwork, I found wooden trays that fit these prints perfectly.

I can only work on so many items at a time in my studio, so I decided to create all the smaller keepsakes first, then laid out all my materials for these trays. I prefer to photograph outdoors and waited for the time on a sunny day to photograph them in natural lighting to capture the vibrance of the orange and yellow, and enough direct and reflected light to show the details in the black areas.

Today when I stepped out to feed the birds it reminded me so much of the mornings I had spent out there with Cookie and even this year with Kelly, and I knew this was the time and place. I held off feeding the birds, got my stuff before the sun moved any higher, and was especially gratified when, in photographing the trays together, a little chickadee joined us, perching on the deck railing to be a part of the photo.

And what a way to honor the memory of my two senior girls during Adopt a Senior Pet Month.

About the trays

These are lightweight 10″ x 13″ pine wood trays each with a hand-colored and signed block print of my tortie girls, “The Goddess” and “The Roundest Eyes”, decoupaged in the bottom. Inside of the tray is painted pure white, outside and upper edge is painted pure black with a matte finish on the entire tray.

two black cats with painting
Hand-coloring prints with lots of feline supervision.

I usually print about a half-dozen of each block print in acrylic ink on rice paper, allow them to dry, and hand color each one individually with watercolors so I have them on hand. Of course, I am carefully observed in this operation by my feline studio supervisors. I sign each print when the embellishment is complete and store them in an acid-free sketchbook for framing or whatever else I may use them.

pawprints, white paint and white painted item
Pawprints, paint and white object.

Then I give each tray a light sanding and paint each tray with acrylic paint. Sometimes kitties add their marks to this process, as you see at left.

I trimmed down the finished, colored print to fit inside the tray and decoupage it into the bottom of the tray and let it dry, then put two coats of finish on the entire tray, inside and out.

The trays are good for decoration on a tabletop or wall, or to use to actually carry lightweight items but are not suitable as a hotpad or to carry heavy dishes or other items (though I am searching for an available and affordable wooden tray among woodworking friends and otherwise). If kept in direct sunlight the watercolors will fade in time but the inks and paints will not. They can be easily cleaned with mild detergent or diluted all-surface cleaner but not immerseed in water, even though all surfaces are covered with finish.

The trays are handmade and may vary slightly in size and shape or have slight imperfections.

About the artwork

hand-painted and printed wooden tray the goddess
"The Goddess" wooden tray.

“The Goddess”

Well, everyone knows a fat cat who knows she’s beautiful, and Cookie would tell you that a woman with a round shape was once most desirable and an object of worship. That’s why I call her “The Goddess”.

I am unendingly inspired by my houseful of felines, especially those two tortoiseshell calicos. I print these by hand from a hand-cut linoleum block, then each individually is hand-painted in watercolor.

hand-painted and printed wooden tray the goddess
The Goddess tray on my table on the deck.

Block printing is a technique wherein the artist carves the surface of a piece of linoleum, leaving raised areas which will become the image. Ink is rolled onto these raised areas, then a piece of paper is pressed against the block and when it’s lifted away the ink remains, leaving the image on the paper.

hand-painted and printed wooden tray the roundest eyes
"The Roundest Eyes" wooden tray.

Because of the nature of the medium, each print is unique and ink coverage is not always perfect. Most artists consider this random activity to be part of the process of creating an individualized print, and along with the hand-painting makes a unique work of art.

hand-painted and printed wooden tray "The Roundest Eyes"
"The Roundest Eyes" trays on my table on the deck.

You may see some paper wrinkling in these prints in the trays; the rice paper tends to pucker up when the ink dries with printing, then again when I watercolor them. I actually iron them to stretch them, but they are never entirely flat. I had originally wanted the prints to look as if they were printed on the trays themselves though that is impossible with the block printing technique, but I think the paper wrinkles adds an interesting element of texture to the trays.

“The Roundest Eyes”
Sometimes when I look at Kelly the only feature I can distinguish in all those tortie markings is her extremely round eyes.

Where to find these trays available on Portraits of Animals on Etsy:

Set of two trays

“The Goddess” tray

“The Roundest” Eyes tray

Pair them up with handmade, hand-printed, hand-painted Tortie Girls textiles

I’ve always offered my block print designs on a variety of textiles, from tees to tablecloths, one of the reasons I love that medium. I had wanted to find a washable alternative to the oil-based inks I’d been using, and the cold-set fabric dye I’d long used to paint the Tortie Girls designs was no longer available. Beginning last summer I experimented with various inks and fabric paints and came up with a combination of materials that are easy to use and washable, widely available and non-toxic and in addition to the tees I have a line of textiles.

block printed tablecloths with tortoiseshell cats
Tortie Girls Tablecloths!

Tortie Girls Tablecloths and Runner

I keep a bolt of unbleached cotton muslin on hand for these little accent tablecloths. Each 36″ x 36″ tablecloth has the same image printed four times, one on each edge. The Roundest Eyes table runner is 11″ x 36″. Each is signed and dated below the design and has my handwritten “label” reading “handmade, hand-printed, hand-painted” and the year. Washing instructions are included on a separate tag. I have only one of each tablecloth and one table runner—for now!

“The Roundest Eyes” 36″ x 36″ tablecloth

“The Goddess” 36″ x 36″ tablecloth

“The Roundest Eyes” 11″ x 36″ table runner

hand-printed placemats with tortoiseshell cats
My tortie girls Cookie and Kelly on canvas placemats!

Tortie Girls Placemats

I made these extra-large 15″ x 19″ placemats of sturdy cotton duck with the edges stay-stitched and fringed. Each is signed and dated below the design as any of my art is, so it’s art for your table! I have six of “The Goddess”, left, and four of “The Roundest Eyes”, right, and they are for sale in sets. You can find them in my shop on Etsy and see more detail shots of them as well.

“The Goddess” placemat, set of four

“The Goddess” placemat, set of two

“The Roundest Eyes” placemat, set of four

And here’s the whole line of keepsakes and more

photo of keepsake boxes and coasters and trays
Keepsake boxes, coasters and trays.

I’ve long pictured my artwork and sketches on items I see in gift shops. I pursued ceramic coasters earlier this year to no avail for smaller quantities, but also began working out the details of creating keepsake boxes and other similar items. In the process I found wooden plaques, wooden trays, picture frames and more and got to work on the details.

Here is the whole line of things, each one-of-a-kind, though I can always create more than one item or more than one set for items that are popular, and I can also create custom items featuring other images of mine or even images of your own fine felines, other pets or loved ones.

And Now For Your Discount

For your patronage and support of my business and my art, I’m offering a 10% discount on anything you order from me during the month of November. During the month of November 2012, take 10% off any item in the two shops listed above. In Etsy, use the coupon code FRIEND10 to automatically deduct 10% from your order before shipping. Click the coupon at left to download a PDF which you can print out or e-mail to [email protected] and I’ll send you a customized invoice for your payment or refund 10% after your purchase using PayPal.

If you order a custom product I will create your invoice to reflect that discount, and if you order directly from me in person I will discount at purchase.

I only have PayPal to use for credit card acceptance (you can use PayPal without having a PayPal account), and I also accept personal checks and cash. Also, local friends can let me know I don’t need to ship their order. I will deduct the shipping cost from their order and we’ll make arrangements for pick up or delivery. Feel free to contact me if you have any problems or questions.

This month’s desktop calendar

ink watercolor sketch of tortoiseshell cat download wallpaper calendar
"Kelly With Grapes and Apple" November 2012 downloadable wallpaper calendar.

I’ve been waiting for this one to come around—when I sketched this back in MayI thought it would make a nice piece of artwork for autumn. It started with the warm golds and oranges and creams in Kelly’s fur, and her contentment in one of her happy spots.

Click here or on the image to go to the link on The Creative Cat where you can download calendars for many different computer monitors and mobile devices.

black cat looking at dispaly of stuff
Mimi checks my arrangement and lighting.

Thank you

Mimi wants you to know that she has properly supervised all the activities in this creative process. She was with me every step of the way, all day and sometimes all night. I could not have done it without her.

And don’t forget that each purchase supports rescuing cats through my own personal efforts, through helping others and also my donations of goods to shelters and rescues for their benefit.

And this holiday season, consider at least one handmade gift or piece of original artwork from one of the thousands of artisans who stay up all night dreaming up and making by hand totally unique stuff. We can’t compete with the department stores, but they don’t do a happy dance when something sells. You’re also supporting a small business, and that’s important to all of us.

Back to work!



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.


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.

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