Monday, November 1, 2010

Scaredy Cats - Cats are done!

I got a sweatshirt a few years ago with this screen print on it. My shirt is black so the colors are darker.
I decided I wanted to create them in miniature and I think they are going to visit my small tree stump house in a salt box.  There is a story forming - so more to come...

I am very pleased with my results overall.  There are few minor variations that I decided to live with.
Tell me what you think.  Post a comment.

To find out how I made them, keep reading or click here.

Scaredy Cats - the cats - how I made them.

Several years ago I purchased a sweatshirt with a screened print of three cats with the title Scaredy Cats.

I love this shirt because of this print on it.  The cats are just so cute.
Not long after I got the shirt, I felt them calling me to make them in miniature.  But I was scared myself about making them in clay.
Last fall, I finally decided where they should go when I make them.  Last year, a miniature online group I am on, Small and Smaller Adventures, was making houses using a round salt box.  The houses they were creating started with flowers and later using twigs, but those didn't really intrique me.  However I decided to start on my Tree Stump House by Pam Junk and before I applied the plaster cloth, I decided to test it out to see how it worked.  Look at this album for both tree stump projects and this album for Scaredy Cats house.  (Both are still incomplete)  I am still trying to decide if I want the house to be the cats or it may be someone they visit.  The tree stump in a salt box was my test for the larger tree stump house. 

How I made the cats...
I knew they cats would be quarter inch scale 'figures so I determined they are about 1 and 1/4" tall.  I drew a rough sketch of their body proportions.  Using the screen print as my guide, I drew a head and then a body in similar proportions to the print.  This makes them big and fluffy.  They are fantasy and not people so this worked for me.
Next I got out my sculpy and shaped the heads (round ball) and then bodies (larger egg shape ball).  I forgot their tails and had to add them later.  I used no-hole beads inserted in the clay for eyes.  The legs and arms were rolled and attached to the body then I shaped them in various positions so they weren't stick style.  Cooked them in my oven at 275 degrees F for 20 minutes.
Next I started painting them.  I base coated with the lightest color.  Next I started adding stripes to their bodies (ones that needed them).  As I did this I realized I needed to be more methodical.  I found I liked the bands of color rather than just the stripes random.  I studied my own cat who is not this coloration exactly but does have some striping and also drew from memory.  But if I was really going for a realism I would have searched the internet for good pics to draw from.

In the screen print the cats don't have ears showing, so I decided to go with that as well.
They do have faces and I used my 20/0 brush to paint on noses and mouths.
They do have whiskers that are curly and add to their charm, so I wanted to capture those.  At first I thought I could use wire, but I did not have on hand thin enough wire.  Next I thought about thread but getting it to curl and stay, well I that was beyond my patience.  I have cut edges off of paper before trimming them to fit and when I had done so the trimmings were often curly.  So that is what I did.  I also had just recently come across a notepad of black paper and it was perfect for this.  Using sharp scissors I trimmed the tiniest edge.  It often was the width of a hair.  It curled just as I wanted, but then not as I wanted.  The screen print shows the whiskers curling one way on one cat and another way on the other.  So I experimented and the best I found to do was to use a toothpick to curl more to my liking.  This paper was so thin I couldn't curl it using the edge of the scissors like I might do for curling ribbon, so the toothpick was my substitute.  Instead of scraping the toothpick against the edge, holding the curl in my hand, I pressed the toothpick against the tip of the trimming and then gently rolled it.  This curled the trimming.  These all got glued on with the tiniest smidge of glue.
At this point, I scuplted them some tails. Cooked the tails, glued them on and then painted the tails to match.  I wasn't sure the paint could survive the oven so I didn't even try.
Now for hats...
WEll, I could scuplt them, but wasn't up to that so I decided to use paper.
First I cut out a circle for the brim.  Ok, that circle is too big, trim.  Test fit.  Too big and finally cut an oval.  Next I cut a circle/oval from the center.  I knew to give dimension I would have to wrap the brim onto itself so I cut from one side to the center to cut out the center.  Test fit on the head of one cat and then glued the overlap.  Then I trimmed up the overlap edges to make the brim even.
To make the cone shaped top, I cut a triangle.  Wrapped it around and tested it.  Again it was too big and this time to narrow.  I opened it up and then cut a new triangle.  This time the top of the triangle wasn't a right angle but a wider angle.  I also cut the bottom a little longer.  I checked this against both the screen print and the cat and it was good except for being too long.  I glued it together as a cone and then slide the brim down the cone.  Marked under the brim with a pencil and then cut the cone from bottom to the pencil line.  This allowed me to use the flaps I just cut to attach to the brim.  I am not worried about this showing because the brims fit fairly close to the head.  But if that had been a concern, I would have marked then trimmed close to the brim.  I then glued the flaps of the cone part underneath the brim.
Now, time to paint.  I had to use a magnifier to paint the tiny stars, checks and triangles on each hat using my 20/0 brush.
I made the hat bands of painted paper. 
The bowties are also made of painted paper.

Next I needed to make a spider.  I used a black seed bead as a base.  I pulled a small section of bunka apart to make it fuzzy then snipped the tiniest bits.  I glued those to the seed bead.  Then I used the black paper curls to cut some legs.  I glued all the legs on a bit long and then cut them afterwards.
I used a 1/16" punch to cut out some eyes from white paper.  At first I punched then added the black dot and they weren't right. Really hard to hold the punch and add a dot with a marker even fine point one. then I added black dots to paper and then used the punch upside down to center the dot where I wanted.  I then glued the eyes on.  Well those were too big.  This would have worked except the size.  So back to the drawing board.  This time I choose to use white dots of paint and then dots with the marker.
My next step was to do the flower.  I choose to cut out the petals from white paper.  glue together then paint .  Then I cut out a oval for the center painted brown and then glued on top of the flower petals.  I even used my stylus on the back of the petals to shape them.  I again used the black paper curls to create the curls with the flower.
The bird is made of clay.  Although I feel the bird is too large compared to the screen print, I am happy with her. I painted it and then added paper legs.
Here is my finished Scaredy Cats.
Sometimes the faces seem too dark, but if I look at the screen differently they aren't dark.