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Go Big or Go Fishing

Artist's note: This was an entry that I started but never published. This is a look into how this piece was created.

Every so often I have to work on a project with no thought to making money. Just for the pure joy of creating and challenging myself. I'm usually busy with lists of things to make for orders and galleries, but when an opportunity to exhibit came up I decided to take advantage and work on stretching my creative wings. I ordered a bunch of polymer, made a special entry on my To Do List and went to work. My idea was to make an installation type piece. Where there would be interaction between a cat sculpture and schools of wall fish. I couldn't have the cat be a small cat because of the display area. So I started out taking yards and yards of foil and wire and created an armature for the body of the cat. I conditioned and rolled the polymer into slabs and started out with the bottom in a bowl and worked my way up going around and around. When I got to a height that I thought would be ok for the body I closed it up and then went to work on the head. The first cat head that I created was too big for the body so after several photos to confirm my hunch I went to work on another head. The second attempt is much better as far as proportions go. I poked a hole in the top of the body so that I can have a dowel for the head to mount on. This gives the cat the flexibility to turn to the left, the right and straight ahead. The arms were a challenge. I used armature wire with cotton balls skewered and wrapped in foil then wrapped the whole thing with the polymer and fed the end of the armature wire into the holes that I pre-drilled. This worked out exceptionally well because I baked the armless cat body in the oven for a first bake. I added one arm at a time baking after the arm was added. Then the tail, same forming method. Then I went to work on clothing the cat. By this time the cat has been baked 4 times. I was debating what sort of cat he should be, an artist cat, a conductor cat or a fishing cat. I finally realized that a fishing cat would allow options for finishing the cat. Then I went to work on a shirt for the cat. I decided that it should be a Columbia-ish shirt so I copied the construction of one of my Columbia shirts. Buttons, pockets, flaps, tabs, collar, back yoke and stitching ( I wish I had counted the stitches). I think I nailed the shirt. Then I found that I needed something to help the head sit straight and added a tee shirt. So the Cat was clothed. I really wanted him to be wearing a cap or sunglasses but I wasn't happy with my futile attempt at a cap and I made the sunglasses but ended up taking another turn. I decided that the Cat needed to have fish fishing buddies. So Cat has one fish perched between his ears as well as on each arm. Of course in his right hand is his fishing pole with hook and bait. I painted the cat using High Flow Acrylic paints. I love the way that they move and what happens when colors join. The cat's body color changed 4 times, first black and white, then grey and white, then orange and white, then back to grey and white with some blue highlights. Luckily using paint I can make changes, an artist's perogative. Then once I committed to the grey and white, I painted Cat with 3 coats of Satin Varnish. I use the varnish to finish the piece. The varnish gives a wonderful "feel" and helps to keep the paint from chipping off. After varnishing then came gluing. I had to glue the fish on. Once I figured out how the arm fish would be placed, I glued one at a time using 2-part 5 minute epoxy glue. I had to hold the fish in place until the glue had set up and then glued the head fish and for that one I had pre-drilled a hole in the head of the cat as well as the bottom of the fish. I placed a piece of armature wire inside the fish and fed epoxy glue into the holes and more glue with another hold until the fish was firmly attached to the Cat. Cat measures 15" tall.

On Tuesday, August 7, 2018, Cat will be installed in a pop-up art gallery at Citrus Park Mall for 3 months. Cat will be accompanied by over twenty reef wall-mounted fish.

I don't usually finish projects ahead of time. I actually have breathing room and I'm happy because I have time to enjoy my Big Cat