Married to the Empire

Friday, December 4, 2009

Craft Week: Paw Print Ornaments

If you're a regular here, you know that my cat Calvin is dying from kidney disease. This is probably his last Christmas with us, so I decided that I need to make paw prints. I pulled out the Super Sculpey and ink and got to work.

I started by conditioning the clay. I warmed it up in my hands, rolled it out a bit, then ran it through the pasta machine. The pasta machine isn't necessary, but it does help to get the clay nice and even and unlumpy.

Next I pulled out the cookie cutters and cut a large circle for the ornament.

The next step involved instructing my husband to put on something that he doesn't mind getting inky. He grabbed a really ugly jumpsuit he keeps in the garage for when it's really cold out and he needs to do messy work.

I asked him to grab our first unwilling participant, Doogie.

We headed to the bathroom where we could corral the cat and easily clean up inky paw prints should he get away from us. Which he did.

Initally I tried to do a white paw print. I was wanting to do the cats' ornaments in their coat colors, so Doogie got silver sculpey, and Calvin got brown. The white ink didn't show up well on the silver sculpey, so I wiped it off and started over with black. Be sure to use pigment ink since the sculpey will be baked. Pigment ink sets with heat.

Doogie cried and fought and acted like we were killing him. Apparently, making paw prints is cruel and unusual.

After Doogie was all cleaned up (further torture), we let him go and grabbed Calvin. He was much easier. He's our laidback cat who was just happy that we weren't shoving pills down his throat while in the bathroom. He was more concerned with drinking water than anything.

Their paw prints reflect their personalities and attitudes perfectly. Calvin's (the brown one) came out beautifully. Doogie's (the silver one) is a little messy and unclear, which just shows that he was fighting.

As we were already in the bathroom getting kitties all inked up, I decided to have them autograph their story. They put their "pawtographs" (my husband made up that term) in my copy and another copy that I bought as a gift for their vet. Doogie's print is red; Calvin's is blue.

I wanted to put their names on their ornaments, so I got out my small alphabet stamps for that job.

I used a straw to make a hole for ribbon for hanging the ornament.

The ornaments went into the oven according to the sculpey packaging's instructions and baked. When they were finished, I brushed some sculpey glossy glaze on top to give them a finished coating.

If you're wondering about those other brown ornaments in the back of the picture, that was a little Star Wars something I decided to do while the brown sculpey was out. I used my Chewbacca rubber stamp. This one can go on my husband's little Star Wars tree. I intend to make more with other Star Wars stamps, but it was getting late, and I wanted to finish things up for this post.

Finally, thread ribbon through the holes and hang ornaments from the tree.

I'll be the first to admit that these aren't beautiful, perfect ornaments. But they are very precious to me, even in their messy-looking state. Our cats' paws are immortalized to grace our tree in all our future Christmases. A lovely reminder to us of our sweet furbabies.


ashley @ twentysixcats said...

This is a really cool idea! I should do it with my cats. The thought of this being Calvin's last Christmas brought tears to my eyes.

Becky said...

Very neat idea! Kudos to you and your hubby for braving the cats' wrath :). Our cats don't even like it when we *touch* their paws, so I can imagine how hard this project was!

Sue said...

I'm sure doing this was a little bittersweet. What a great idea - I'm sure you'll cherish those ornaments for years to come.

Thirsty said...

Those are adorable! Thanks for showing us.

Meredith said...

I love the thought and love behind these ornaments.

Cassie said...

What a great idea! I hope you don't mind, but I am totally stealing this one!

Joanne Brown said...

Aw, what a great idea!! I'm sure you'll cherish these ornaments for a long time :) So fun that they capture your cats' personalities!

Cathy VanPatten said...

I love this idea! I also had to laugh at the picture of your husband with Doogie--what a little whirling bundle!

I wonder if either Mifune or Mingus would hold still for a pawprint...