Andrea Holloway, aka MyBeadyEye on Folksy (fab shop - definitely worth a visit!), got in touch on Hogmanay and asked if I could make a couple of cats to look like her friend's cats. "Absolutely", I said, relishing the prospect of a new challenge. And so pictures of Oliver and Nell were duly sent, and I got to work!
Meet Oliver. He's a very sweet ginger tabby. To get the stripy fur effect, I used a millefiori cane technique. I took a range of colours (white, orange, pumpkin, tan) and then chopped them up very finely and mixed them well. Then I reformed the clay and rolled it out with an acrylic roller. I passed it through the thickest setting of the pasta machine a couple of times, cutting the resultant sheet in half each time and putting both halves together again, being careful to keep the 'grain' running in the same direction. After a few passes, I took the sheet of clay and cut it into strips of approximately 2cm wide and stacked them on top of each other. I then cut thin slices from this cane and applied them to a clay core, being careful to match up the stripes as much as possible. Once all the slices were applied, I lightly rolled the clay body in my hands, which served both to blend the slices and slightly distort them. Ears, eyes, chops, paws and tail were applied in the usual way.
Next I worked on Nell, small black cat with white markings over her cheek, chin and chest. (I found out afterwards that Nell is much smaller than Oliver, something I didn't know when I made her, although somehow she ended up quite a bit smaller than Oliver anyway :) With Nell, I used Sculpey Premo clay for the first time (that clay is amazing! It cuts like hard cheese and is really easy to condition. And it doesn't get sticky, and holds its shape well. I'm a convert!), and rolled out a core of clay for the body.
I then tried a new technique for the white patch on her chest. I cut a rough diamond shape from white clay (did I mention how much I love Sculpey Premo?!), and then made up an interlaced cane using black and white clay. I made this by rolling two thick logs of clay, one white and one black, which I then stood on their ends and cut into quarters. I laid the black segments in a row next to each other, and placed the white segments in between them, point first, like teeth. Then I reduced this quite substantially to create a feathered effect, and cut very thin slices from this cane and attached them round the edge of the white patch. I think the final effect works pretty well!
Oliver and Bob are winging their way to their new home, and I hope they settle in well - at least they're already house-trained!