December 26, 2011

This year's homemade gifts featuring Business Cat!

Yes, Blog, I am now at liberty to reveal this year's homemade Christmas gifts! Whereas last year I had not one, not two, but three posts on gifts, I apologize for not quite so much volume. But hopefully they will still amuse.

I worked in a couple of new media this year, the first being metal sculpture: this Camera Eye Robot that I made for daughter Katie. It all started with one of those, spot-in-a-shop, declare-"I-can-make-that" situations, Blog. I tracked down the tiny old Japanese camera on eBay, and built the robot from various random parts and scraps I'd amassed. He's a goofy little character with a hook for a hand and buttons from an old calculator, but I think he's pretty lovable. And for sure that itty bitty camera is awesome--it actually works, I guess, and is only 1 1/2" high.

Also new to me, and I think it shows, is the key holder I made for Katie's boyfriend Chris out of wood. These two are fans of retro design as it is especially expressed on Route 66 (see their website and Chris's new book at So I was going for "Googie" style--e.g., the famous Las Vegas sign--with this key holder. I bought a prefabricated plaque, then cut the parabolas and wedgie things out of balsa wood and glued them on. I stained the wood with watered-down acrylic paint and added edges and starbursts with Sharpie pen. I varnished it all and added screw in hooks. Not bad for a beginner I guess--and it would seem the height of modern to Fred Flintstone.

Time to move into a medium in which I'm more proficient: polymer clay. I also made Katie a Googie-style piece, a switchplate cover. I used a classic 50s palette, and this time threw in that old favorite, the kidney shape. It was fun trying to use a retro font for the lettering--sort of like on a neon sign--and I think it came out fairly well.

Clay-wise, I made a couple of other gifts this year that were really copied directly from other people's work, so I'm not going to show them off, even though they did turn out nicely. And I gave my hopefully-future-step-granddaughter all the stuff she needs to take up claying, so that will be very cool!

On to the needlecrafts....

Last year I made myself a felt camera case, and I'm flattered to say that pro photographer Chris kinda coveted one for his little "casual" camera ever since. So I got the measurements and made him one to fit, and here it is, Blog.
And the final, Really, Really Big Project required not only sewing, but a heck of a lot of Googling, brainstorming with myself, graphic work on the PC, and tedious cutting. In the end it was all worth it to give my husband Davie the gift of his dreams:  his own three-dimensional Business Cat.

Davie has been obsessed with this internet meme for a couple years now, to the point where--and I kid you not--he has been known to suddenly whisper "Business Cat" out loud for no apparent reason. So I simply had to find a way to make him one.

I was not about to try to make my own pattern for a stuffed cat that would look like the classic expressionless, round-eyed, all-black critter that is B.C. So I combed the internet and looked at every single black-furred feline available for purchase in the known world. The closest thing to the right look, sadly, was a tuxedo cat. So I actually had to dye his white parts black with copious amounts of fabric dye.

It wasn't too hard to design and make a white collar of cotton fabric. Even the tie wasn't difficult, although I put the plaid on the yellow fabric with felt-tip pens. No, the killer here was how to display the thing, in order to incorporate the hilarious captions that are Business Cat's claim to fame.  Like these to the right:

You don't even want to know the ideas I came up with and rejected before the ultimate solution came to me. Business Cat is displayed in an acrylic box made to house a mini replica football helmet, but tipped up on one end. The box "bottom" perfectly holds the caption sheets...25 of which I made to include in the B.C. set. Yes, I made 25 designs (did you know the classic font is Impact, which comes installed with Windows?), printed and trimmed them, and cut out all the openings with an Exacto knife while chatting with my visiting mother-in-law. Thanks heavens she was there to keep me sane.

Add printed backdrop and tie on nifty original tag, and MEOW, I mean VOILA: Davie has a pet Business Cat! Sing it to the tune of "I Want a Hippopotamus," people:

I want a 3D Business Cat for Christmas,
Only a 3D Business Cat will do!
Don't want a Honey Badger, or critter by Chuck Testa,
I only want a Business Cat 'cuz that meme is the besta,
And 3D Business Cat, he likes me too!

So, from the land of Christmas Crafting, Blog and I say "Merry Christmas to all and to all a Super Fantasgreat New Year!"

December 6, 2011


Can you believe I've been away six weeks, Blog? Scandalous. I cannot hope to excuse THAT kind of absence, but for lack of anything better to post about, here's my feeble accounting for my long-term silence:

1. You know you can always count on my sharing my crafts, but everything I've been doing all this time is in the Top Secret No Reveal Till After Christmas category. If it helps you to deal with the suspense, here are some tiny hints:

--some of the stuff involves containers, some empty, some not
--some could be used as a weapon, or not
--there's pink

2.  I also know I like to talk about my writing, but I'm still on my long-term authoring hiatus. I did get to do the editing of this book though.  The writing is real nice, I can't wait to see the pictures!

3.  You have in the past enjoyed my sharing about my random nocturnal fantasies, but the storylines of those have been a bit thin lately.  But if you insist on knowing, there have been two I alternate between.

--The one in which I live in a little Jewish village in the early 20th century, have a crush on the town doctor, and get a job as his assistant. This makes more sense if you know that in real life I have a doctor who is Jewish and he's completely awesome.

--The one in which I am hired to do online research for the team of Mr. Finch and Mr. Reese of the show "Person of Interest." Because I really can't help being attracted to Michael Emerson regardless of the role he plays. (Yeah, and my husband meanwhile has a man-crush on Jim Caviezel, so we make quite the pair.)

4. There is an unbelievable quantity of great TV on right now that is simply too good to miss. I watch about 25 shows faithfully right now. Plus some football and hockey. Plus the occasional holiday special and/or "Income Property" rerun. Yes, that was 25 shows. And I'm picky, people--I cut out the shows that are just "good." Anyone who gripes that there's nothing on the Boob Tube these days needs to take another's become just insane. And "Alcatraz" hasn't even started yet.

5. I've been getting too many kicks out of Facebook. It's so easy to share the thrilling stuff in my life there, I just don't get around to putting it here, Blog! Stuff like

--the fabulous drinks I've been making out of the Magic House bar
--video of our newest collectible snowman, "Spaceman" (pronounced "spa-CHAY-man" of course)
--pictures of my cats, oh heck, I'll show you one too, Blog

So I'm sure it's clear why I haven't been posting. If not, I'll spell it out for you, Blog:  L...A...Z...Y.  Perhaps I will do better in the new year.  At least you know after December 25 you'll be seeing some crafts here, including the pink part.

Can't you wait?  Till then, have some happy holidays!