March 1, 2013
March 1: a little spring in the air, and some extra kick in my step. I’ve been thinking for months about embarking on a Kickstarter Campaign. I’ve been thinking for nearly two decades about the 13 Cats Project. What better year to bring this project to life than in 2013?
In this auspicious year, I will create artwork for a book featuring 13 lucky felines, all rescued by Purrfect Pals, who find new, loving homes. I will sew a quilt for each cat, create a portrait in paper collage, and compile the stories of 13 cats whose lives are changed by the care and generosity of people who open their hearts to them.
My devotion to fabric started long before I got a degree in art, and although I made quilts for shows, I didn’t make one for a cat until much later. The first recipient was a wildman manx named Bono, pictured in paper collage above. He loved to nest in boxes of fabric, and was the ultimate sewing machine supervisor. Once, when he was feeling poorly, I decided to make him a special quilt. He immediately took to it, started feeling better, and soon after, all my cats got their own quilts. Interestingly, they all knew which one was theirs, and rarely transgressed onto other quilted territory.
By the time I started working at a companion animal shelter, I’d made piles of quilts for felines of friends, family, and paying clients. And then I started making them for special cats adopted from the shelter, too. Almost two decades after leaving that job, I can’t remember how many dozens I made in reality, and how many I created in my mind. Often, the only way I could deal with euthanasia was to imagine wrapping each cat in a quilt before she passed. Needless to say, I dried many of my own tears on the corners of those imaginary quilts.
I imagined a book about rescued cats and quilts not long after leaving my shelter job. But, there were still some tears to cry and to healing to be done before I could envision the artwork. I also had a lot to learn about making cats out of paper. I’d already published 2 books for young readers, each filled with illustrations of wild animals. My first cat illustrations were for small books published by the Wright Group. They were a start, but I still had a long way to go.
In the last few years, I’ve finally gotten there. I can make paper cats! I still make quilts, and last fall, I realized it was time to think about the book again. It was also time to connect with Purrfect Pals and have a different kind of experience with a shelter. I see this book as a collaboration, and every person who supports the project is part of it. This is an exciting step, and I will be honored to have friends, family, and other cat lovers take it together.
The Kickstarter Campaign goes through the month. Please take a look here. Thanks for embarking on this adventure with me!
“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” ANATOLE FRANCE