Priscilla and her cat-hair counterpart
Despite its title, Crafting with Cat Hair, Cute Handicrafts to Make with Your Cat by Kaori Tsutaya and translated from Japanese by Amy Hirschman, is not a book about starting a craft circle with the neighborhood felines, as much as it's about dutifully brushing your kitty until you produce enough hair to decorate a small box used for storing knick-knacks.
The book is illustrated with adorable photographs, and features ten different craft projects, including a finger puppet, book covers, portraits, tote bags, coin purses, badges, hats and scarves, pincushions, and more. Contrary to popular belief, the larger items (such as mittens and gloves) are not constructed using cat hair at all, rather they are made using felt or store bought items, and then decorated with a cat-hair design, using a felting technique.
In addition to the step-by-step projects, there's also information on topics such as proper brushing techniques (don't over brush!), an explanation of shedding habits, and tips for dealing with pests and allergies. One section also addresses the subject of odor; A lot of the negative comments I've heard about crafting with cat hair, in addition to it being "weird" and "gross" is that cat hair is "dirty" or "smells." The book comments that unless your cat is unwell, cat hair typically does not have an odor, and any dirt can be removed by washing it prior to beginning a project (there are instructions on how to do this).
I instantly fell in love with the book after receiving it last week, and decided to start off with the first project - the Cat Hair Finger Puppet. The basic materials needed are cat hair, cardboard, clear packing tape, plastic wrap, beads, glue, and embroidery thread. (Note: The project in the book has 11 steps -- this is just a condensed version to give you an idea of the process.)
After cutting the pattern (provided in the book) out of cardboard, it's wrapped in plastic wrap and tape to keep it waterproof. Sheets of cat hair are then wrapped around the form to create the puppet.
Since I first heard about the book's release, I started saving up Charlie and Priscilla's hair in (separate) Ziploc baggies, but for the purpose of the finger puppet project, I quickly learned that wasn't the best thing to do.
As I've mentioned in the past, I use the FURminator on my cats (which they love), however the hair comes off in small clumps or tufts, as opposed to moldable sheets of fur. If I had sheets, they could have easily wrapped around the form, but instead I was tasked with piecing together the puffs of fur I had into some kind of solid shape (not so easy). In the end it all worked out, but I think I probably used more hair than necessary, thus making the puppet bulkier than it needed to be. The author recommends several brushes in the book (including the FURminator, FWIW), so I've ordered a flatter brush like this one to see if harvesting the hair in sheets yields better results.
The form is moistened using water and dish detergent, which is gently massaged into the fur through plastic wrap.
After being rinsed in a bath, the puppet is dried off.
A hot iron is applied over a blotting cloth to remove any excess moisture, and the tail is cut, before removing the paper form from inside the felt. Note that my puppet's poor tail is too short because I was afraid of over-snipping and ending up with a Manx!
The finished result is molded, tweaked, and trimmed into shape before being adorned with beads and thread.
Enter To Win!
Quirk Books has generously offered one lucky Catsparella reader the chance to win a copy of Crafting with Cat Hair of their very own!
To enter, leave a comment on this post with your name and some way for me to contact you if you win (email, link back to your blog or profile, Twitter, etc.).
The winner be will chosen in a random drawing next Monday, October 10th at 5:00PM EST. This giveaway is open to everyone, so our international friends can participate, too! One entry per person, please.
Good luck, and if you can't wait to win,
Crafting with Cat Hair for yourself, or check it out when it hits bookstores on October 11th!