Thursday, October 27, 2011

Remembering Cedric kitty

As some of you may know, my sweet 14 year old Cedric kitty was diagnosed with kidney disease a few months ago.  He did pretty well with subcutaneous fluids for a while, but eventually even that wasn't enough.  I knew that the time would come when I would have to make the very difficult decision to put him to sleep, but until this weekend he was still enjoying life and didn't seem to be in much pain.  Friday night things changed though.  I was in my craft room and I heard Cedric come upstairs.  I was just about ready to get up and give him a drink of water, like I usually did about that time, when he let loose with this meow that was filled with pain.  I'd never heard a meow like that from him before.  Calcifer and I both raced over to him and I gently gathered him up and stroked his head.  I looked deep into his eyes and asked "Is it time?" and he said yes.  He said he was tired, and in pain, and didn't want to fight any more.  And yes, I got all that from the look in his eyes.  I didn't want to act prematurely, so I told my husband that if he wasn't any better by Sunday I'd make an appointment with the vet for Monday.  Cedric steadily got worse as the weekend progressed.  He wouldn't (or couldn't) eat, drink, or use the litterbox, and he was having trouble walking.  But he didn't want to be alone.  Normally Cedric was a pretty independent cat and had no problem spending time by himself.  Now, though, he would struggle up the stairs trying to find me or my husband, rather than laying comfortably on the bed like normal.  So I ended up carrying him up and down the stairs and making him cozy little nests of blankets where ever we were at.  Poor Calicfer  knew there was something very wrong with his big brother.  Saturday night he curled up next to him on the bed and gave him a very gentle bath and warmed him up with his own body heat.  There was such a look of gratitude in Cedric's eyes, it made me cry.  He hadn't been able to bathe much on his own and he was normally a very clean cat.

Calcifer may be a rambunctious overgrown kitten, but he has a kindness and gentleness to him that touches my heart.  When Cedric was upstairs with us I asked Calcifer to sit with him while I did the dishes.  You can see him watching over his big brother here.  As long as someone was near him, Cedric was able to relax and get a little rest.
Sunday night, when I went to take a shower, both cats followed me into the bathroom.  That's not unusual for Calcifer, but Cedric never takes a shower with me.  This time he sat on the rug right next to the tub and didn't even mind the sound of the shower.  And Calcifer sat right next to him (until I was finished- then he wanted to jump in the tub and play in the water).  Cedric just kept getting weaker, and I promised him that I would ease his suffering on Monday.  He actually slept between my husband and I that night, something he hadn't done since he was a tiny kitten. I didn't sleep much- I kept gently petting him throughout the night, and checking to see of he was still breathing.  
The next day I took him to the vet, something he normally hated.  This time he didn't even have the strength to complain.  The vet and her assistant were very kind and compassionate and understanding.  I looked into Cedric's eyes as he slipped away, and I told him Ozzy and Ziggy and Frisky would be there to show him the way to the Rainbow Bridge, and there would be no more pain.  He went peacefully, almost gratefully.  It was hard to let go, but it would have been so much worse to allow him to suffer.  I made this little video about him the other day.
He had a good, happy life, full of love and fun friends.  I'm glad Calcifer had two years with Cedric.  I wish it could have been longer, but Cedric helped shaped who Calcifer is, and the kind of big brother he will be.  Cedric was one of those cats you just never have to yell at, because he never gets in trouble.  His good behavior rubbed off on Calcifer (at least to some extent).  Cedric was incredibly patient with Calcifer from the first moment they met, and they grew very close.  Calcifer's been looking for Cedric for the last few days.  Poor baby.  How do you explain old age, disease, and death to a cat?  I've been playing with him more to keep his mind occupied, and he's been even more cuddly than usual.  We'll be adopting another kitten pretty soon.  Calcifer really needs a friend, and it's just too quiet with only one cat around here.  We'll provide a safe, loving home to another little kitty in need, and I think that's a pretty good way to honor Cedric's memory.  He was a very special cat, and he'll never be forgotten.
-Michelle of CreativeCritters
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Monday, October 24, 2011

Learn about the Close To Home Animal Rescue

I'm re-posting this from the Crafting For Animals blog.  This article tells you a bit about the Close To Home Animal Rescue.  From now until October 29th many members of the CFA guild (including me) are offering to donate 10% of the purchase price when customers use coupon code 10CTH-CFA at checkout.  This is such a worthy cause, and I'm glad to help in any way I can!

CLOSE TO HOME ANIMAL Kathryn A. Gainard of A Dying Art Co.

    Res.cue: verb   \’res-(,)kyu\
    Transitive verb
    To free from confinement, danger, or evil: save and deliver

    A simple enough concept… to save and deliver from danger. Or at least, it should be. Upon getting to know some of the founders of the Close to Home Animal Rescue, I realize that it’s not as simple as it should be.

    Founded in 2010 by Amy Quinlan, Katie Sojka, Rose Ann Hack & Krista Milford, the rescue was thrust into the almost debilitating surge of homeless animals in Northeast Ohio. The basis for the rescue is simple: an all foster, all volunteer network of people dedicated to saving the abused, neglected and abandoned animals of the area. And the name, Close to Home Animal Rescue, encompasses those ideals. Not only meaning that it works hard to help the local animal need, but also that their adoptable pets are “close to finding their forever home.”
    They tirelessly work with the local pounds, trying to find foster houses for those pets on the short list to euthanasia. A sad and harrowing plight, as the need is far out-weighed by the amount of fosters and rescues.
    They also offer a unique Senior to Senior program that allows senior citizens the chance to adopt older pets at a discounted rate. Many older pets wait so long to find a home and this really helps with that dilemma as seniors are more inclined to want a pet that’s more docile and easy to manage.
    They fight an uphill battle, along with the other rescues across the world. It’s a silent struggle for the most part as animal abuse and neglect is still put on the backburner in most people’s minds. Luckily, they took some time out and answered some questions for me in the hopes we can educate even more people and share the perspective of a rescue worker.
What made you decide to start or be involved in a non-profit rescue shelter?
    AQ: I wanted to see a rescue that represented all different types/breeds/sizes of dogs. It was clear that there were many breed-specific rescues. Also my hope was to have a rescue that had a place for senior dogs.
    RH: After working as chief deputy dog warden in my county, I felt the need to keep my sanity by involving myself in the “happy ending” part of animal welfare.
    KS: There can never be too many rescues. Right? It has been a lot of work and is still very rewarding at the same time.
What do you think is the major issue facing shelters and rescues?
    AQ: The lack of laws. Even if we had enough space or funds, without mandatory spay/neuter and without stricter abuse penalties there are too many waiting to come in.      
    RH: Wow! So many issues… it’s not just rescues and shelters. There are major issues throughout the legal system (lack of laws, lenient laws, no basic guidelines pertaining to rescues/shelters,) ignorance from the public (regarding spay/neutering… and simply ignorance in general.) Rescues and shelters not working together by allowing personal issues to take precedent over animal welfare…
    KS: Overcrowding! More spaying and neutering must take place.
What is a major misconception about rescues and shelters that you feel hinders what you can or should be able to do and get accomplished?
    AQ: Definitely that the general public does not realize that vets do not “donate their time.” They charge rescue organizations anywhere from 10% to 30% off depending upon the service but that is still a great deal of money when you couple it with our gas, food, monthly flea and heartworm preventative. Breaking even is the best you can for with 80% of your dogs and that barely helps with our senior to senior program or the injured and sick.
    RH: One misconception is that the rescue will take any and all animals in need. If we only had the resources to do just that!
    KS: Some people think they should just get a dog for free. Adoption fees are “too high” for a fully vetted animal. I’m not sure if they think the vets take care of the animals at no charge.
Do you think awareness is becoming more prevalent or is ignorance still bliss when it comes to animal abuse and rights?
    AQ: I definitely feel awareness winning on this one. It seems our generation in the ages of 30-50 are much much more aware and the older crowd is more difficult and/or slow to come around. I see more and more families becoming involved teaching their children compassion!
    RH: It seems to me that awareness is more prevalent simply because I surround myself with a population that feels the same way I do concerning animal abuse and rights. However, when I (painstakingly) wander outside of my group of friends I find that people are more comfortable with the “ignorance is bliss” theory. They would much rather believe that someone else is fixing the problem then face the fact that these things are occurring, in many instances, right in their own backyard.
    KS: Both! Some want to know and learn, while others don’t want to know the truth of what is happening out there.
Lastly, if you could impress one thing upon the populace about animal rights, abuse and welfare, what would it be?
    AQ: Nothing is going to change until the laws do. You can be a part of the change. You should be a part of the change. If we can stop animal abuse we have a great chance of stopping abuse of spouses, children and all living things. Many studies show that animals are the first to be “tortured” and individuals escalate such behavior eventually to humans. If it is not enough to you that animals are being abused then take it a step further and think about your Mom, Dad, son, wife, or brother…
    RH: I would impress the fact that people should treat their pets as they would their children… unfortunately, for many children and pets that is exactly how they treat them. I have witnessed first-hand that we live in a very sad society.
    KS: Not to turn a blind eye. Don’t think that if you can’t foster you can’t help an animal in need. Educating the public is helping an animal. Doing what you can in a way that you can is better than nothing. The innocent need you in whatever capacity you can.
To learn more about Close to Home Animal Rescue or to find your next fur-baby visit

Article written by Kate of ADyingArtCo. on ArtFire where you can find many of Kate's creative projects for people and pets, as well as at her website: Kate is a very active volunteer with the Crafting for Animals Guild and uses her talents generously to help the guild in every way she possibly can.

Kate is one of many members participating in the coupon week now (from 10/23 through 10/29) to help raise funds for the Close to Home Animal Rescue, the spotlight charity for CFA Guild during October in honor of National Adopt-A-Shelter-Dog Month. Read all about the promotion HERE or the box below, and get the coupon code so you can shop with Kate and the other guild artisans during this week.

Use coupon code 10CTH-CFA at participating stores to help Close to Home Animal Rescue 
-Michelle of CreativeCritters
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Saturday, October 22, 2011

Can't live without Tacky glue for my clay projects!

One of my favorite things to use when creating my clay sculptures is Tacky glue. I use it on baked and unbaked polymer clay and it stays somewhat flexible even after it dries. For pieces like my miniature house sculptures I bake the walls, then arrange them on a base of unbaked clay, securing the edges with Tacky glue. Next I cover the walls with a thin layer of the glue and let it dry. When I add the next layer of clay (which will be the outer layer of the house) around the walls the dried glue, which is still slightly tacky helps the unbaked clay stick much better. I also find it very useful when it comes to attaching all the vines and tiny flowers to the house, as well as the shingles. I use a fine tip attachment to draw a line of glue where I want my vines to go, then press the clay vines into the wet glue. After this dries the vine is securely attached to the house and I can add leaves and flowers, adding a bit of glue where I need to in order to secure the foliage.  If i don't use the glue the vines rarely stick to the baked clay.  I wouldn't be able to create these detailed little houses without Tacky glue. And you can bake the glue at 275 degrees without affecting it. I also use Tacky glue to coat my foil and wire armatures so the clay sticks to them better. I just have to be sure there are no air bubbles between the foil and the clay, otherwise I could end up with cracks or large bubbles of clay after it's baked. And when I cover glass or metal containers I "prime" them with a layer of glue as well. I get much better results this way.

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With this dragon trinket box I coated the coffee container with glue, let it dry, glued it to the cardboard base, which was coated with glue, then added the clay to the box and the base. The foil dragon armatures were also coated with glue before I added clay and turned them into full fledged dragons ;-)

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Nearly every project I create has at least a little Tacky glue involved at some point! ;-)

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Friday, October 21, 2011

My Glow in the Dark Witch Candle holder from beginning to end

I just love Halloween and have had a vague idea for a Witch candle holder for some time. I figured I'd start with the cauldron and take it from there. I wrapped a glass votive holder with black polymer clay and created a rim along the top edge.  Then I dusted the clay with purple Pearl Ex powder. I decorated the edge with a string of glass beads and cut out star shapes under the rim.

To create the flames I used red, orange, yellow, and glow in the dark clay, thinned and twisted to resemble flickering flames.  The rocks were sculpted from swirled multi-colored clay.  I sprinkled the base with green and copper embossing powder before I baked it.

Next I used a bottle and shaped wire to create an armature for the witch.  I wrapped the top of the bottle (her torso) and the head and arm wires with floral tape to help the clay adhere to the bottle and the wire.

Then I added a layer of clay over the whole armature and began sculpting her face and hands.  I mixed equal amounts of flesh colored and glow in the dark clay to create a flesh tone that glows brightly in the dark.

As you can see, she still glows just as brightly as she would if I had only used glow in the dark clay.  This is the first time I tried mixing it with another color.  In the future I'll have to try mixing GITD clay with other light colors and see what happens.

Here I've added some ragged looking robes to the witch and secured her to the base with liquid polymer clay.  Her make up is chalk, which I rubbed on paper then applied to the face with a small brush.  I also filled the star cut outs on the cauldron with a mix of glaze and glow in the dark powder. 

Of course a witch has to have her Familiar.  This is the beginning of the armature for her black cat.  The wires have been secured in the foil core with glue.

I wrapped the armature with floral tape to further secure the wires in the clay and provide a good surface for the clay.  I made sure the cat would fit properly next to the witch.  I posed him so that he would appear to be up on his hind legs, looking into the cauldron.

And this is how they looked right before going into the oven for the final bake.  The cat has his front paws on the rim of the cauldron and I added liquid polymer clay to the bottom of his feet and tail to secure him to the base and the cauldron.  I textured his fur and used glow in the dark clay for his eyes.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Whimsical Fantasy Snail Sculptures from CreativeCritters

Recently I was sorting through my stash of crafty things I've saved over the years and came across my collection of sea shells.  Looking at the shells I had a flash of inspiration and saw them becoming colorful fantasy snails, complete with snail riders like dwarfs and fairies.  The first thing I did (after thoroughly cleaning the shells) was to paint them with brightly colored metallic paints.  I altered their shape slightly with addition of some polymer clay, which I painted to match the rest of the shell.  Even I can't tell where the shell ends and the polymer clay begins.  I added some fun stripes and swirls, then began sculpting the body and head.  Since these are fantasy creatures, anything goes.  For this snail I used blue glass beads for eyes and gave him spiky lashes.  He's got a cute smile on his face and his little tongue is poking out just a bit.

Monday, October 10, 2011

A testament to the strength of polymer clay

I just had to share this story my mom told me about a horse sculpture I gave her for Christmas a few years ago.  She keeps the sculpture on the window sill by her bed.  She says the weather was beautiful the other night:, windy, but cool (which is very welcome weather in Arizona!) so she had the window open to catch the breeze.

When she got up the next morning morning she looked on the window sill and noticed the sculpture wasn't there.  She thought maybe the wind had blown it off the sill so she started looking on the floor for it.  She moved all sorts of stuff, even the bed but still couldn't find the horse.  Now she's really puzzled and can't figure out where the sculpture could possibly be.  Then her neighbor comes knocking on her door.  He's holding the horse and asks if it was hers.  Apparently the wind had loosened the screen, blew the horse out the window, past Mother's front door, past her front window and lodged the sculpture in her neighbor's  doorway!  The really surprising thing was that it wasn't scratched, chipped or harmed in any way.  Now THAT is a testament to the strength of polymer clay!  Mother says she thinks the horse just wanted to experience life a little- LOL.  She was amazed that it had survived it's little adventure without the least bit of damage, and very thankful it found it's way back home.
I knew polymer clay was strong (I've dropped my fair share of sculptures without breaking them), but I had no idea a sculpture could survive an adventure like that!
-Michelle of CreativeCritters 
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Friday, October 7, 2011

Orange inspirations from the Polymer Clay Smooshers

This weeks Blog Ring topic is orange and it didn't take me long to find this adorable orange cat magnet from buttonwilloe.  I love orange kitties, although I've only had one orange cat so far.  His name was Ozric, named after the band Ozric Tentacles, and he was the sweetest little kitten.  He got sick while he was still very young, and crossed the Rainbow Bridge far too soon.  Every time I see an orange kitty I think of my sweet little Ozric :-)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Join me for a walk in the woods

I love trekking through the woods in the Fall.  The leaves are starting to change color, the mosquitoes have stopped eating me alive, and the mushrooms are starting to sprout all over.  I've gotten into the habit of always taking my camera with me when I go wandering.  I love taking pictures of all the different mushrooms, interesting plants, flowers, and trees, and any animals I come across.  So I thought I'd share some of the cool things I found while wandering through the woods the other day.
These are a few of the more interesting mushrooms I came across.  This is a great time of year to spot mushrooms growing under trees and in damp shady spots throughout the woods.  I found more mushrooms this year than ever before, and even discovered a few varieties I've never seen before!



And while I was moving some branches aside to get a picture of this funky mushroom I discovered this handsome fellow curled up in a small tree about 3 feet off the ground.
How awesome is this?!  I'm fairly certain it's a garter snake, and I'd say it was at least 1 1/2 to 2 feet long- a pretty good size for snakes in this area.  It's actually kind of rare to see any snakes around here any more, unfortunately.  Too much destruction of habitat along with pollution, added to the sad fact that many people feel they have to kill every snake they come across.  I think these creatures are beautiful, and serve the very important role of keeping the rodent population in check.  It was pretty cool outside when I discovered the snake, and he was pretty sluggish, so I was able to get some good pictures.  Although I wanted to, and I probably could have, I didn't touch the snake or disturb him in any way.  As the saying goes: "Take nothing but pictures, and leave nothing behind but footprints".  Don't disturb the natural balance.  I did take the time to thank him for posing so nicely for me though ;-)
I hope you enjoyed sharing my walk in the woods!
-Michelle of CreativeCritters 
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