8 Jewelry Making Rules for Cat Owners, Plus Halloween Jewelry
Happy National Cat Day! I’ll bet you didn’t know that today was this very special holiday. Well, it is. My little cat Bubba and I are celebrating with a bowl of her favorite food and some time spent playing her favorite game: Throw the Catnip Mouse. In other words, just a normal day.
ABOVE: Photo by Elles Rijsdijk/Eveem; Getty Images.
Of course, anyone who makes jewelry and lives with a cat knows that there can be certain . . . well . . . challenges. So here are my rules for jewelry making with the helpful assistance of your feline friend.
1. Work Up High
Always try to keep your work out of your cat’s reach. When I lived in an apartment without much work space, I used to often work in my living room in front of the TV, especially while stringing beads. I’d place my bead board or an old cookie sheet on the ottoman in front of my chair and spread out my beads for sorting. Yeah, that didn’t work so well.
Beads are like cat magnets. They make a good sound, they roll, and they can fly if you do it right. I’d be working away, and suddenly, a little paw would appear from in front of the ottoman, attack my beads, and fling at least one of them across the room. And that little bead would disappear somewhere in the carpet, only to be found weeks later by the vacuum. Hopefully, the cat wouldn’t also eat the bead.
Yes, higher is always better for jewelry making with a cat.
2. Cats Jump!
Here’s the caveat for the “work higher” rule. Cats love to climb and jump. Yes, they can get up on your work bench. And they will. So be vigilant! Cats are also quiet, so you won’t see them coming. And jumping up on your bench to startle you and scatter your work is just such a fun game.
3. Watch Your Wire
Are you a wire wrapper? Yeah, me, too. It’s fun, isn’t it? Well, your cat will agree. Wire is just like string—only stronger and stiffer and sometimes pointier. To your cat, wire looks like a big, shiny ball of yarn. So try not to let the ends dangle anywhere near the floor. Or the surface of your bench. Or anywhere else, for that matter.
4. Don’t Close the Door
You would think that just closing the door to your jewelry making workspace would eliminate any problems with your cat. It won’t. Cats cannot abide a closed door. If you shut the door, within 10 minutes (guaranteed), your cat will be banging on it and rattling it. “Whatcha doin’? What’s going on? I want in. IN! NOW!” Sure, try to concentrate on your jewelry making with that racket going on. You won’t be able to do it. Let the cat in.
5. Avoid Jewelry Making at Dinnertime
Along with leaving the door open, try not to start a jewelry project right before your cat’s usual feeding time. If you think the pounding on the door is annoying, try adding hunger on top of that. “Feed me! Feed me now! I don’t care what you’re doing. It’s time to EAT!” Always feed the feline before you dive into a complicated jewelry making technique.
6. Fire is Fun!
Fire is shiny. It’s sparkling. Fire makes a cool sound. Torches hiss. Yes, we all love fire and torches and soldering. Your cat will, too. You might want to distract your cat with something else while soldering. This can be a major challenge, since the fire is the ultimate distraction. You may want to stick to cold connections.
7. Hammering is Cat Repellant
Speaking of cold connections, if your cat is really bugging you, hammer. Hammer a lot. Hammer loudly. Cats hate that. So practice riveting or texturing or any jewelry making with a hammer. The cat will leave, trust me.
8. Don’t Fight the Hair
If you have a cat, you know that you inevitably have cat hair—everywhere. On your clothes, on your furniture, on your carpet. It will also work its way into your jewelry designs, especially if you work with textiles or leather. My advice? Don’t fight it. Make the cat hair an integral part of your design. Just tell everyone it’s a special fuzzy textile from the Far East or something.
Cat Jewelry Making and More
Of course, the truth is that we love our cats. And our dogs. And any other pets we may have. So jewelry designs featuring animals are always very popular. Who doesn’t love a cute cat or puppy piece?
My favorite cat jewelry project is Betsy Lehndorff’s Hep Cat Necklace from the March/April 2018 issue of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist. It uses wax carving and 3D technology—two very trendy and cool jewelry making techniques. And the little cats are adorable.
But if you’re a dog person, check out Noël Yovovich’s No-Solder Fold-Up 3D pendant. What could be cuter? And with a little practice, you can make it into a portrait of your own little fur baby.
And hey! There happens to be another holiday this week. Something called Halloween. The cool thing is that you can make animal jewelry tied to this other, slightly more well-known holiday. My personal favorite? Roger Halas’s Vampire Bat Linked Necklace. Spooky, isn’t it?
But if you really don’t like bats, how about a scary snake? Personally, I hate snakes. But even I must admit that snakes and snakeskin can serve as awesome inspiration for jewelry designs. An excellent example is Roger Halas’s Mokumé Gané Snake Pendant. Not only is it a very cool design, it’s a fantastic way to experiment with mokumé gané. I just love this one—even if it is a snake.
Or if you want something that has the feel of snakeskin without looking like a real live snake, you might want to try Kylie Jones’s Snakeskin Inspired Chain Maille Bracelet. You can even buy the kit for this one in black or blue—perfect for Halloween.
Just keep those pesky little jump rings away from the cat!
Enjoy National Cat Day and hug your kitty!
Managing Editor, Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist