Tuesday, December 23, 2008

35% off Sale will continue!


Well, I said I'd let you know if I decided to continue my sale..... my sale will run until midnight on January 2nd.

Pieces like Valentina here will no longer be made.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Revised Plush Sale


I am discontinuing my plush animal sculptures.

I've started designing a new series of sculptures with a more adult/edgier feel

SO! If you've really wanted a plush Hexcat or a crazy monkey now is your chance to get 1 at 35% off. The items in my 25% off section in my shop will have an extra 10% off discount.

Oh and the rest of the items in my shop are 25% off. I'm continuing this sale until midnight on the 20th. If I decide to run this sale longer, I'll write another update and let you know. :)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Revamping my shop...Special Sale!!!!!!



I've been looking at my plush pieces and while they are cute...I'm finding that I want to get away from them.

I've been inundated with ideas for goth women, ghosts, sorceresses, disabled people....even vampires. Not to mention the eye jewelry I used to create regularly.

So if you want a plush hexcat or a monkey, now is the time to stop by my etsy shop. I set up a 25% off section. http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=11088&section_id=5800372
There are a few older dolls listed there too.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Beezus had Ramona...Germanicus had Caligula

















So, it seems reasonable that Cthulhu Should have an even more evil younger relative. This little menace's name is Lulu.

She is soft and a pretty shade of lavender, and that's as far as the nice goes. Lulu has the smallest cult of human followers of all the Elder Gods. Mostly because she has the biggest appetite for blood and she's easily bored.

These figures have been fun to make. Juxtaposing the viciousness of the characters with soft plush and big sweet eyes really amuses me. Now I just have to see if anyone else finds them funny too.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Pet Shop of the Old Ones- Coloring Portfolio


I love making my animals for my Etsy shop Chatnoirstudios. I was really surprised when people asked for coloring pages and more story than I was putting in the shop descriptions.

I was happy to oblige. So this holiday season I'm reissuing the first set of coloring pages. My husband, MJ did the illustrations and I wrote the story.


I find it fun to see illustrated versions of my animals. I love the drawing of Winter Sky almost as much as the sculpture.

I have 1 portfolio listed at the moment, but you can order more than one and I can have them printed and shipped out in time for the holidays if you order before the 15th.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Going Back to the Garden



When I was little, my Grandma Bartlett taught me about many things. She told me stories about her life on a farm in West Virginia; taught me how to make perfect fried chicken and cherry pie; but mostly she taught me to be a strong woman.

One of my favorite lessons was about Eve. She was brave according to my Grandma. Life would have been nice in that garden, but people would have always been children.

It is always better to face the world and learn everything. Eve just wanted to grow up and find her place in the world with Adam. Because Eve grew up willingly, women since her have matured more quickly and men are often a step behind.

This little 10" by 5.5" or 25.4cm x 13.97 cm icon shows Adam and Eve embracing each other after their fall. They are what we are now... Left with each other to cope with the world, but with God listening. Grandma always said that the God was listening part is the most important thing to remember.

The fabrics I used in this piece were patterned cotton and rayon. Each applique is secured in place with spray adhesive and edged in a buttonhole stitch. Cotton floss was used for the embroidery stitches. The beads used as a final embellishment are glass and are sewn in place with spyderwire.

The finished piece is stretched over a wooden form padded with quilt batting and hand stitched in place with hand quilting thread.
The back of the icon is finished off with a panel of black velourand is ready to hang.

The finished piece is stretched over a wooden form padded with quilt batting and hand stitched in place with hand quilting thread. The back of the icon is covered with black velour.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Tara and The White Cat

The Tara's love was so great for us that when she achieved Enlightenment,
She took a Bodhisattva vow, choosing to continue reincarnating until all "sentient beings" are enlightened.

In a story I read as a child, a white cat named Sinh who was the guardian/companion of an elderly artist asked Tara for help. His artist was working on perhaps his last painting for the Temple. It was of Buddha and the animals that answered his
summons.

The artist was grateful to Sinh for all the years of affection and companionship they had shared and wanted to add a portrait of Sinh to the painting.
Since according to legend the cat did not come at Buddha's call, everyone objected.

Sinh watched his unhappy, feeble friend and feared he would die before his masterpiece was complete. The night that the weeping artist finished the painting without the portrait, Sinh meditated asking Tara- She who saves- to bring peace to the old man.

OM TARE TUTARE TURE SVHA was the mantra Sinh repeated. In his mind, he came upon the green Tara and with a gentle touch of his paw told her of his love and sadness. All was lit with a golden light and Sinh was reassured that "You can rely on me, you need seek no other refuge"

On the morning the monks came for the painting they found that the artist had died in his sleep and lay in bed with a peaceful smile on his face. Looking around, they stood in awe of the beautiful painting before them. All the animals glowed with a heavenly radiance and the artist was there too... praying. But most amazing of all, the faithful and loving Sinh was sleeping in Buddha's arms.

This is probably my favorite cat story. It just seemed that my first attempt at an appliqu├ęd and embroidered piece should be about the brave and loving cat, Sinh. This is piece is called a Thanka. It is an embroidered piece that tells a Buddhist/religious story.

To create this piece, I secured the dark dreen tie dyed fabric with a piece of batting behind it to a scroll embroidery frame. I marked off the shape of the thanka and the width of the border with dressmakers chalk.

The figures were drawn on cotton fabric secured in a round embroidery hoop and stitched. I used a variety outline stitches, short and long stitches and satin stitches. I got the glowing effect on the cat by combining 2 strands of white floss with a single strand of golden yellow floss. When they were finished, the figures were cut out and satin stitched to the background. I deliberately varied the length of the satin stitches to add to the impression that the figures are glowing.

Finding the cotton fabric print that reminded me of Dharma wheels was such a lucky break. It was perfect for the border of this piece. I cut small groupings of the circles and carefully arranged them in an attractive sequence around the 2 figures. I used a satin stitch to secure these pieces to the background like I did with the figures.

The final steps were to embroider the tiny spirals in the back ground and the rays emanating off the Tara, quilt around the figures and the sections of the background and border I wanted to stand out. I then used Spider Wire to do the beading on the entire piece.

I cut piece of wood the shape of the thanka and covered it with batting. I stretched the finished piece over the wood and whip stitched it into place. I cut a strip of cloth to cover the edge of the wood and give smooth edge to the image side of the thanka. I whip stitched this into place. I used a piece of the background fabric to cover the back of the thanka. Sewing beads around the edge of the thanka finished this piece off beautifully.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Cthulhu Awakens!!! New Cthulhu Figures




















H. P. Lovecraft's stories always scared me because of that feeling of oppressive fear and dread that he was so good at creating. My favorite novel is The Mountains of Madness.

I admit his characters often left a great deal to be desired, but the unnerving atmosphere....well it got me every time.

I've been wanting to come up with a new design idea for a monster that is both cute and creepy at the same time. By using huge eyes and soft plush, I think I've made a cute version of Cthulhu, but he's still a little creepy.

I as much as I like my first Cthulhu Playtime figure Nyarlthotep, I'm going to use resin eyes on the rest of the figures. The big 3D eyes are more expressive than the embroidered eye.

I'm playing round with designing Cthulhu's little sister LuLu and a blind albino penguin. My Cthulhu needs some more friends besides Nyarlthotep.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Bringing Back an Original Design for the Holidays


I know I disappointed some people when I changed my HexCat design. So I decided to bring back the original little fuzzy cats that
started my business.
Shadow and her
friends will start
showing up in my etsy shop this week.

I'm working on a pair little kid cthulhu monsters for this week too. I'm hoping to keep adding more unusual creatures for you to give as gifts or to buy for yourself.

If you want something custom designed....you'd best contact me now. I sew everything by hand and need time to finish and mail the creature!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

PlayTime Cthulhu Figures



Cthulhu and the other elder-gods like Yuggoth from the H.P. Lovecraft stories are pretty darn creepy. Lovecraft creates an atmosphere of impending doom in his stories that unnerve me every time I read them.
I also use the idea of battling a similar gods in my own stories that involve the Pet Shop of the Old Ones characters- Chat Noir and the Cadre of Conjurers, who trying to stop the evil sorcerers from the Calamitious Black Arts Guild.

I 'm playing around with designing my versions of the elder-gods that would be creepy cute. I'm thinking my character and the Guild would use them as play therapy tools to help injured Conjurers and Mundanes deal with magickal battle trauma.

As a designer, trying to make these monsters cute is an amusing exercise. Giving them child-like proportions, plush skins and huge eyes, should make them quite appealing. My first try was Nyarlthotep- The Stalker among the Stars. To Yuggoth he was the Bringer of Strange Joy. To me, he looks good in velour and purple plush. I tried out an embroidered eye on this first version.

My next monsters will be Cthulhu Junior and Cthulhu Lulu.

SPECIAL UPDATE!

I just finished the first Cthulhu Jr design. I think he turned out great and I'm really pleased with how the combination of plush and vinyl looks. I just got a beautiful turquoise plush that I want to try out on the next cthulhu figure.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Sleek is the word for my Hex Cat Redesign

I am trying a new combination of textures to create my original essence of catness... HexCats. I like the contrast of the 2 textures and I'm not missing the yarn ruff.

I'm going to have fun playing with this new design, but I will make a few of the originals.

I'm seeing velour and plush, satiny print and faux fur, maybe even vinyl and velour or any combination of these fabrics.

Yes, this will work. As to the ruffs, I really am so over specialty yarn. Faux fur and plush... yes. I think I've made these cats more interesting to work on.

If you have any fiber suggestions for me to try.... please feel free to suggest them. I just might try a vinyl and chains sort of kitty.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Cat That Wouldn't Die!




Have you ever had a design come back to haunt you? When I first started making HexCats, they were little blobby figures like the cats shown here. I was trying to create the essence of catness....an eye, ears and fangs.


These cats are cute and the handmade eyes and the poses do give them personality, but my goodness .... they' re not very challenging to make.



This is why I designed the Boogaloo Hexcats. They have faces and
bodies which are more difficult to get right. The personality quotient is higher too.



I mean aren't these more charming?
I think little Lightening here is a real sweetie. Lyla has a great deal of charm and WinterSky looks ready to play.


But, I've had people ask about the first design and I like to keep my customers happy.... so of course I'm going to make more of the original HexCat design . I just have to come up with some little fabric and plush changes to make them unique and interesting. I'm trying out combining plush and velour on the same cat and giving them eyelids.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

It's that Time of Year!

Since it's November and people are starting to holiday shop in earnest.....I just wanted to help this along by offering free shipping until the 20th of this month in my shop.











From rogue crawling eyes who have snuck off the mother ship and run to the North Pole and become decorators, to

Flaming Chihuahuas, Hex Cats and even ghosts.










I have many unusual items in my shop for the most hard to shop for person on your list.



If you're interested in an unusual piece of jewelry or maybe a wrist cuff, I have a few pieces listed and I am adding more over the next few days.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Orchid came back

Last summer a young feral cat, who was at least part siamese, came by regularly for food. He or she ran with a wild group of cats in our area. I got to know her better and called her Orchid. She had lovely lavender eyes and a funny tuft of fur on her head that seemed to go the wrong way. She was always sickly and I wanted to tame her down and take her in with the rest of my rescues.

I always looked forward to my morning visits with her. After breakfast on the porch, she'd play with her felt mouse and chatter to me. When I finally felt she was tame enough to be boxed, I made a vet appointment and waited for the next morning to come. Orchid never showed up.

Living here in the Mojave Desert, I know that feral cats are food for many predators, but I had hoped she'd be round 1 more day. I felt so guilty.

About 4 weeks later, I heard a familiar meow out on the porch. Grabbing a food bowl, I rushed out to see Orchid pacing around the porch. I put the food bowl down and reached out to pet her......

And put my hand right through her.

I've seen ghosts since I was a little girl, so seeing Orchid just made me sad. She's visited me periodically since late last summer. The last time I saw her 4 months ago, I asked her to let go and come back to me as a live cat. She cocked her tiny head at me and squeezed her lavender eyes shut. I 've always thought of this as a cat smile.

About 3 months ago a black feral cat gave birth to 5 black kittens and one siamese kitten with lavender eyes and a funny tuft on the top of his head on my back porch. I'm still looking for homes for 4 of the black ones if any one is interested.

But since I promised her, Orchid/ Rorschach or Rory lives with me.


Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Collaborations



















I usually make my FlutterCats out of plush, but I got a commission recently for a fabric one. I'm so glad, because it has been fun to alter this design so that it will work with fabric.

The things I learned making this new cat from cloth will make all my cat designs better. I'm not sure how many cats besides the HexCats I'll make out of plush any more. I may find I miss the soft fur. It makes the cats more cuddly. I probably will keep using both materials.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Decisions I need to Make... Proposed Series UNIQUES



I started out wanting to do dolls with disabilities like the microchephalics that appeared in Freaks or maybe more common disabilities like cerebral palsy. No, not for the shock value.

I have cerebral palsy... not a severe case though. But I've my problems with "normal" people and their preconceived notions of what is beautiful. I guess I find microchephalics interesting and in their own way beautiful. I chickened out when I got such horrified responses when I shared my first sketches for my proposed series of UNIQUES.
I got a lot of " You're making fun of them", or "No one would want to own something that looked like one of "those" people! "

So since I want to make my living as an artist, I came up with a compromise. I created a series of magical animals and mythological creatures. The Hex Cat and the Flaming Chihuahuas of the Apocalypse pictured here are recognizable as domestic pets and the magical aspect of their back stories takes the curse off the physical differences they have. At least for most people. I still run into the occasional person who gets upset by my sculpts.

I'm bringing this up now because the urge to create the original series of figures overwhelmed me the other day. As much as I love the fantasy figures I make now.....I want to do more personal pieces too. It's like my muse is tapping me on the shoulder and reminding me that it's time to start adding some more serious work to my repertoire.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Taking The Time To Pick the Perfect Name For Your Business

I love cats especially black ones like Spats and Monte here.

Many of my dolls are fantasy or magick related and black cats go along with this idea.

To me naming my shop after a special animal like a black cat was a perfect choice. I used French because I felt it added to the exotic feel of my shop.

Little did I realize that for some people Le Chat Noir Studios was too difficult. I had quite a laugh when I got this in the mail yesterday.

I went with a different company of course. I might have been more understanding if I hadn't talked to the agent and spelled Le Chat Noir Studios out not once, but 3 times to her.