Before the release of Crafting With Cat Hair last month, the editors were in search of some brave souls to donate fur to their unconventional craft project. Well, months have passed, and the book has been released, but the cat hair still remains!
I recently had the opportunity to chat with Katie Hatz of Quirk Books, and score some exclusive pics of the stash, which is stored in neatly labeled bags inside a filing cabinet from Ikea. Katie told me that she lost count of submissions after awhile, but that there's currently hair from 20 different cats in the cabinet, which is not counting the hair they've already turned into whimsical feline art.
Read on for more about Katie's mail bag surprises, cat hair puppet making tips, and what is to ultimately become of all this excess fluff!
Did you get any especially unusual deliveries?
We got a range of packaging, from cute stationery and hand-written letters, business cards with cat pictures on them, etc., all the way to one of my favorites, which was just a massive wad of cat hair stuffed in a big envelope. That one was fun to open, because I was at the office and people around me were a little taken aback. Our only request was that people send us their cat's name and photo if possible, which everyone did.
How many cat hair finger puppets have you made? Do you think your technique has improved over time?
Margaret (the book's editor) and I have made at least a dozen puppets. Our first few were pretty rough! And we've never really gotten them to look quite as perfect as Kaori's, but it's actually cute when they're a little wonky, I think. (Ed note: Kaori Tsutaya is the author of the original Japanese version of the book).
Any special tips you can share?
The toughest part is when you first submerge the pattern and hair under warm soapy water and start to agitate it, because it can be difficult to keep the hair where you want it and not get gaping holes in your puppet. But you can minimize the frustration by loosely wrapping it in plastic wrap and rubbing it very gently between your palms until it holds its shape.
Cat Hair Portrait
What do you plan to do with the surplus of hair now that the book is out?
We're going to make more crafts! And we're still welcoming new submissions of cat hair to play with. I really got into the portrait project in the book, because needle felting is a little more versatile since you don't need to fuss with water. And it's great because you can use different colors of hair to add highlight and shadow, just like painting.
The Japanese book we translated this one from was such a hit over there, they actually did a second one with even more projects! We'd love to give some of those a shot, although it'll be a little more complicated since it's in Japanese. But the fun is far from over, even though the book is out. I can't talk about it quite yet, but let's just say we've had some pretty interesting opportunities to promote cat hair crafting—and of course we'll keep you posted on the results!
Who is this kitty, and how does he feel about his mini-me?
That's my cat, Indiana Jones (Indy for short). He doesn't seem to care whether the crafts are made out of his fur or anyone else's—he's just keenly interested in all of it. He especially enjoyed inspecting the new "friends" whenever people sent us new packages of fur.
I love the cabinet, although it sort of has a Dexter-ish quality to it. Did you already have it, or get it with the specific purpose of cataloging cat hair? I imagine it must be a real conversation starter. ("Are you a cat crafter, or just a serial killer?")
I'd seen the cabinet at Ikea and wanted an excuse to have it, so cat hair seemed like the perfect fit! I highly recommend Helmer (that's the cabinet's name) for organizing other crafting supplies and odds and ends too, even if you're not a cat-hair weirdo.
Special thanks to Katie and Eric from Quirk Books for giving us a peek behind the cat hair curtain! Don't forget, Crafting With Cat Hair is on sale now through Amazon, and in stores near you!
If you'd like to send Katie and Margaret some fur to add to their cabinet, please mail it along with your cat's name and photo, to the address below:
The Cat Hair Ladies
215 Church Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106