Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit

Tabby Cat Ornament-Giving Myself Permission to Start Again


Last week I shared my first process in creating new cat ornament for the 2011 holiday season. I wasn’t completely satisfied with the result and created a second ornament over the weekend.

For this second ornament, I decided to use Super Sculpey. I prefer it as a sculpting medium. The clay is malleable and pretty forgiving. I prepped the glass ornament and covered it with the clay.

I began to sculpt the cat’s face. But the more I looked at the face from the side, I realized the proportions weren’t right. In fact, it was downright yucky. So, I kept the ears and took off the cat’s face.

Cat Face Bits

You might be able to see a nose and potential eyes in the picture above. This is one benefit of working with SuperSculpey. Just take a small spatula or palette knife, gently place under the clay you want to remove, and scrape it off.

Feeling frustrated that the picture in front of me and in my head wasn’t traveling from my brain to my hands to the ornament, I stopped and went for a walk. I let the ornament sit on my work table for a day.

When I returned to my work table, I sat down, took a deep breath and said to myself “Now, remember what you’ve learned about sculpting. Use those techniques to sculpt the cat.” I gave myself permission to start again.

I rolled a log of clay for the nose and made pads for the whiskers and cheeks. I took my time, studied my reference picture, and sculpted.

Now I felt like I was getting somewhere with this little guy.

Here he is before going into the oven. With the fleshy tone of the SuperSculpey, the cat ornament was reminding me of Sphynx Cats.

Yes, they are ugly. How do you think you’d look without your fur? Personally I think these cats are fascinating. Ugly and cute at the same time. Makes me giggle to think about putting a knit sweater on a furless cat for warmth. Wait, my fully-furred cats like to curl up in my sweaters….

Anyways. Here is prototype #2 cooled from the oven and given an antique wash.

One suggestion I do have when working with SuperSculpey is that you may want to tent your piece with aluminum foil. The clay has a tendency to color shift and get slightly darker during the curing process. In this case that was fine because I was planning to paint the cat. However, when in doubt about your final piece, put a tent of aluminum foil over the raw clay while it cures in the oven.

In prototype 1, I used oil paint and colored pencils to create his fur coat. I realized I put too much texture on the raw clay which then made it harder to use the colored pencils over the cured clay. I also didn’t really like the color of oil paint I chose.

This time I used black, brown, white, and yellow ochre oil paint to color Tabby’s fur. Here is the final result:

Tabby Cat Ornament 2011

Here are the two ornaments side by side for comparison.

Cat Ornament Prototypes 1 & 2

They look quite different. I’m happy with how prototype #2, Tabby Cat, turned out.

Permission Granted

I’m glad I gave myself permission to start over again. I know that each piece will be different and continue to evolve with more practice. Sometimes my biggest frustration is that subsequent pieces don’t turn out like the first piece. Yet that is what makes each piece unique and one of a kind. Some days my hands flow easily with the clay. Other days they ache and feel stiff. All of this translates to the clay and gives the piece its character.

I’m off to make more ornaments. More medium round ones, some smaller round ones, and also some disk shaped. I’ll post additional results here. And I’ll continue to give myself permission to start over again.

How about you? How easily do you give yourself permission to start over again?

6 thoughts on “Tabby Cat Ornament-Giving Myself Permission to Start Again

  1. Love them both. The second one has sad, take care of me eyes. He/she draws you in, just as all those cute bundles of fur do. Can’t wait to see what you make next. Great job.

  2. You pushed through it, Amy. Great results.. fun in the studio with your little kitty’s.. real and clay ones.

  3. Please contact me if I can have you make some of these for me! Sphynx cats are my love and I have a few that I would like to have made!

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