Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit

Holiday Ornaments-My Process to Create a Cat Ornament


Now that I’ve completed the Languedoc-Roussillon series, I must move on to the next task on my list: Holiday ornaments. I need to make several for NOA for their upcoming holiday season display (which sounds really nice; 5 white Christmas trees displayed in both stores & decorated entirely with local artisan-made ornaments.) And there are the upcoming shows on my schedule (Merrimack Valley Artisans, Bolton Artisans Guild, ArtSpace-Maynard.)  Time to GET BUSY!

Last year I made a few ornaments using disk shaped glass ornaments as my armature. Here is one example:

This year I decided to try sculpting over a round ornament. That comes with a different set of challenges as the shape can change the perspective.

I wanted to make a prototype piece first. This one is the practice piece and takes all the grief. Poor ornament.

Here is my process for this cat prototype. I started with white polymer clay, covered the glass ball and added facial features. I really struggled with the face. That could be because I haven’t sculpted in a while and was shifting gears from the encaustic work back to polymer clay.

I know I was also hard on myself in seeking perfection on a practice piece. I know better but it happens anyways. Just have to remind myself “this is only a test….”

Back view with tail

After proto-cat was cured and cooled, I added an antique wash of acrylic paint.

Not bad. Now you can see the texture I added with a needle tool.

Next up is adding more color. This year I’m experimenting with oil paints and coloring the clay. So I rubbed, smooshed, and then wiped off several oil paints to give proto-cat some color.

Well now he’s glowing. It takes a little trial and error when applying the oil paint. Be sure to wear gloves! At this point I’m not really happy with the results. What I see in front of me isn’t matching what is in my head…or my model/inspiration for that matter.

Taking a clue from my model (who is sleeping on the studio floor), I take a break and come back to the ornament in the evening. I add some more oil paint and additional color with Prismacolor pencils. This adds some depth and definition.

And a back view. I think I like his tail the best….

Sigh. I’m still not feeling the love here. Proto-cat looks a little alien to me. But that is why this is a prototype.

I spent some time really looking at the cats and the shape of the ornament. Proto-cat’s face still seems flat to me. It looks like a cat but it doesn’t. Some things I’ll change on the next one:

  • build out the face instead of adding face parts
  • make the eyes rounder
  • make smaller marks with the needle tool
  • work from a picture versus memory or a sleeping model
  • try a different polymer clay that is easier to manipulate

What do you think?

7 thoughts on “Holiday Ornaments-My Process to Create a Cat Ornament

  1. Thanks for sharing your process, Amy! What a great idea for an ornament, so wonderful and whimsical. I agree with all your considered changes. In looking at Pippin and then at your ornament, it seems to me that the ears might need to be closer together, maybe placed more on top of the ornament? and the eyes could be rounder, slightly smaller and slanted upward at the outer edges. And yes, some building out of the face, especially on either side of the eyes and cheekbones. Perhaps a wider nose bridge, too? Hope these suggestions help. Have fun with the process! I love the back!

    • Hi Karen, I agree with your suggestions. I’m sure with practice each one will show an improvement. My second prototype will be revealed on Wednesday. I think I’m getting closer to the mark. Thanks for your input.

  2. He is so cute… I see what you mean. Maybe if you take the inner corner of the eyes and point them down towards the bridge of the nose. Still adorable.

    • Thanks Judy. Each one is a form of practice and each will show improvement. I have to retrain my eye for detail again. My next attempt will be shared on Wednesday. I’m quite happy with this new one.

  3. Protocat is cute and represents other cats – somewhere. Each is so different. Work on the mouth a bit, that part bothered me more than other parts. Agree that the ears could be closer – and a little more rounded. But each piece of art has its place and it’s in the eye of the beholder. We are all critical of our own work yet someone out there loves it. Thanks for sharing the process. Hope to take inspiration from it and give it a shot at some point. Good Luck, know all will be beautiful.

    • Hi Jean, Protocat is definitely in a class all his own. I agree; we are our own worst critics when it comes to our artwork. Thanks for your encouragement. I appreciate it.

  4. Pingback: Tabby Cat Ornament-Giving Myself Permission to Start Again « Musings from the Moonroom

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