"Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened." ANATOLE FRANCE
The 13 Cats Project has been a dream of mine since I worked at a companion animal shelter nearly two decades ago. What better year to bring this project to life than 2013? I will create artwork for a book featuring 13 lucky felines, all rescued by Purrfect Pals, who find new, loving homes. I will sew a quilt for each cat, create a portrait in paper collage, and compile the stories of 13 cats whose lives are changed by the care and generosity of people who open their hearts to them.
I have been a quiltmaker for years. By the time I started work at the shelter, my own cats had stacks of quilts, and they loved them. I wanted special cats adopted from the shelter to have a little luxury, too. At this point , I can’t remember how many dozens of quilts I have made as gifts and commissions. Talk about random acts of kindness through quiltmaking!
Whether or not a quilt can have soothing, healing effects on animals is open to interpretation. All cat lovers know that their companions enjoy being comfortable, and quilts have traditionally offered comfort. Feline eyes are not designed to perceive color, however I believe cats gravitate to something about specific tones and patterns. Whenever possible, I meet the intended recipient, although I often work with photographs. I learn as much as I can about the cat. Personality and temperament, age and health all play a role as I consider colors and designs, and intuitively choose fabrics.
In 2013, I will work with Purrfect Pals, a nearby shelter, to identify 13 rescued cats with stories to tell. They will be of different ages, backgrounds, and physical conditions. Each will receive a quilt, either before or soon after adoption. I will also do a portrait in paper collage of them individually, and use design elements from the quilt in the artwork. Paper is my medium of choice, and I have already published books filled with illustrations of animals.
Successfully mastering the art of feline portraiture proved a real challenge for me. I portrayed eagles and grizzly bears long before I created a convincing paper cat. Perhaps felines eluded me because of their familiarity, but I was more likely daunted by the need to get them absolutely right, to capture their complexity of pattern and clarity of gaze. A few years ago, I finally got it, even though I still experience an anxious moment when I wonder if the various pieces on my drafting table will come together in a portrait. And then, with the final details of whiskers and eye gleams, the cat comes alive.
Since leaving the shelter, I have thought long and hard about how to best use my talents on behalf of cats. The 13 Cats Project will bring together all my work, and it will allow me to speak for cats, and to animal lovers, in a new, creative way. Although I do not yet have a publisher, I know that this book will find its perfect home, just at the cats do. This is a project of heart and soul, and of many bits of fabric and paper.
I am launching a Kickstarter campaign so more people can get involved. Donations to The 13 Cats Project will be used to purchase materials. I spend about $100 to make a cat quilt, and invest at least $50 in each portrait I create. Your generous contributions will enable me to buy the best fabric and paper, which in turn will go into beautiful quilts and portraits. And then, together, we will have created artwork for a book. I look forward to this collaboration!
Risks and challenges
My biggest challenge is always time. I have a wonderful day job (actually, weekends-and-evenings-too job), but I am motivated to find open spaces in my schedule so I can get into my studio. This project is quite doable in the next 10 months, and I am confident that I can meet my goal of both sewing quilts for and creating portraits of 13 cats before 2013 ends.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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