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All posts for the month January, 2016

Back to Work on Kris & Krampus Kringle

Published January 27, 2016 by baileyquillincooper

Like I wrote in my last post, HowlCon was cancelled so I got just back to work on my book. If you haven’t heard me mention my book before, it’s a Christmas children’s book that I have written and illustrated myself called Kris & Krampus Kringle. I came up with the basic idea for the story sometime back in 2013, but I didn’t actually start with the writing of the manuscript or any of the illustrations until January 2015–so pretty much exactly one year ago now. Despite being freshly moved to a brand new state on the other side of the country and all of the adjustments that inevitably follow, and also working full-time at Trader Joe’s until the end of 2015 (a job that can really suck out all of you energy), AND all of the other random weekend trips and vacations, costumes, commissions, and other weird projects and events that I’m forever interrupting my life with, I still managed to get quite a lot done on my book in just one year. The manuscript is nearing its final proofreading stage, the storyboard sketches for each page have long been figured out, and I’m currently on around page 25 of the final illustrations. It’s a classic 32 page book, however as you might have realized with other children’s books not every single page is illustrated, and once you count all the publishing info, title pages and end papers the first actual page of the story with illustrations doesn’t really start until like pages 4-5.

Oh, and a little disclaimer–I do know that as far as the traditional children’s book illustrating process goes, you are TOTALLY NOT supposed to illustrate a book from start to finish completing each final illustration one after the other. I know that it’s supposed to go something like read the manuscript, figure out the pacing and the rhythm of the story by plotting out each page of illustration and text on a storyboard, rearrange and edit everything as needed, take a long time designing specific elements and especially the main characters, draw out each page as many rough sketches, which eventually morph into a few tighter, more detailed sketches, which then maybe can eventually form a dummy book and then the final illustrations if they are very lucky…and then redo and revise everything all over again. I’m somewhat familiar with the real process and once made a dummy book of another one of my stories as part of a college course to learn about how its done and to know what you would submit a publisher if you were doing that whole thing. Still, for some odd reason working on this book has caused me to just throw most of my prior knowledge out the window and go with whatever felt right. For instance, using this same example that I know I’ve used before in a previous post: when designing each of the three main characters in my story, Kris Kringle, Krampus Kringle, and Mama Kringle, I drew each of them just once and knew that they were absolutely perfect just the way that they were. I inked and colored them in without screwing them up. I am using the very first drawing as final illustrations in the very beginning of the story. That sort of thing just doesn’t happen, and probably will never, ever, happen to me again. I’m definitely not complaining; in fact I’m doing just the opposite. I’m just going to roll with it and make this book like it wants to be made.

It certainly helps that at the end of the day, I can do whatever I want because plan on self-publishing my book. I figure this way I can guarantee its release date without having to wait on anyone besides myself to finish it, and also I can maintain complete artistic control. As it will be my first published book I have likened it to my weird “debut album” as a new artist, something that holds the express purpose of showing everyone what I’m all about, a portfolio piece or a personal showcase I suppose. I’m still open to the idea of shopping around for publishers and will probably be doing some of that this year…if nothing else it probably couldn’t hurt to introduce myself to some people and possibly meet up with some illustrators agents along the way. A finished book might help me to get future work or just show people what sort of thing I am capable of. Mostly though, I just want this story to be told already and I don’t want to have to wait for it any longer. I actually tried my best to publish it this past Christmas but found that it was not possible with my workload and the time it takes for the book printing and distribution process to commence once everything is finalized. I’m now shooting for Fall of this year at the absolute latest. So anyway…without further ado, here’s a few in-progress pictures I took in my art room over the weekend!

The latest page on my desk, surrounded by previous pages for reference:

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I’ve taped it off like that because this page is going to be arranged in four comic book style panels. Because of the way the tape happened to be set up in the beginning, I went ahead and finished the first panel on the top left before adjusting the tape border and starting on the next panel. When the above photo was taken I had just finished the pencil drawing and started inking over the lines.

Here it is after I finished inking that panel:

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And here’s one last picture once I colored and finished that second panel:

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Stay tuned…the other two panels, and some more in progress illustration photos are coming soon!

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HowlCon Canceled (but look at the cool stuff I started on anyway)

Published January 21, 2016 by baileyquillincooper

Yup. I had a bad feeling about it too…I was already approved as a vendor for 2016 but the later on in the year as it got without another reply from the Con Alpha about my application invoice, the more I had started to worry that there had been another problem with attendance or the venue. Last year’s turnout in February was actually pretty good, but the venue was the Red Lion Hotel just over the bridge in Washington, making it pretty easy to get to for the all of the attendees who were mostly coming from Portland, myself included. Then on Halloween of last year that hotel closed down forever. HowlCon was re-homed to the Red Lion in Kelso, Washington, which I guess is this far out little town that I’ve never even heard of. Unfortunately from what I have just heard this totally zapped the attendance so they’re having to cancel the event. I’ve heard rumors of a possible future reschedule later in the year if the right venue and time slot are found, but since those are just rumors, I’ve decided to pump the brakes on making my inventory for Lycanthrope Cosmetics until further notice. I do still have my children’s book (Kris and Krampus Kringle) and a few corresponding dolls and/or puppets to make in the meantime.

Anyway, I spent a good part of the weekend working on the first round of my inventory so I’ll show you what I had so far. I started with the slush cast latex werewolf snouts that I ordered from NorthFurFX. They were all unpainted to begin with so I started on the paint jobs. I paint my prosthetics using my own technique I’ve developed that involves many layers of thin glazes of water-based paints, which unlike the oil-based stuff, does not erode the latex over time. The paints I use are usually a mixture of acrylic paints, water-based enamel paints, and gloss varnish. I had a few wolf noses, a fox nose, and also a small domestic cat nose that I believe was made by Woochie. I had planned out the corresponding fur patterns for all of them as well, but I hadn’t made it past the painting stage when I heard the news. One of them I hadn’t even painted yet, so I left it blank for the future or for a “before” photo comparison. Here they are unpainted with the fur colors I was thinking about using for each one. I know a lot of people with colorful hair so I figured why not experiment with some of my crazier colors for a change?

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Here they are as I began to paint them in assembly line fashion:

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And here’s some individual close ups, with the different skin tones and corresponding fur combinations I was planning. My own previously completed werewolf nose with light skin, dark brown/pink fur, and a pierced nose, above one of the newly painted noses of a similar skin color that’s eventually going to have a medium brownish/ash blonde fur, possibly with subtle little streaks of rainbow colors:

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Another much darker, medium/tan skin nose that will have a combination of silver and dark brown fur in the future, pictured with an unpainted nose:

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In contrast a very pale, ivory colored nose with freckles for someone with a naturally fair/pinkish skin tone. This one will have light blonde and white fur for an albino wolf look:

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As a general rule, animals with freckles on their noses or tongues are the cutest thing ever.

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Here’s my werefox nose, aka Huli Jing to the Chinese and Kitsune to the Japanese. They have a lot of shapeshifting fox spirits in their mythologies. It will have your typical red fox fur pattern when completed.

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And lastly, here’s the werecat, which will have that tawny rust orange tabby patterned fur when finished:

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One last group photo before I pack it all up ’till next time:

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Oh yeah, and one more bonus pic–my drink of choice while I was doing all this was an odd combination of aquavit and grapefruit juice with a squirt of lime!

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It’s really too bad, I had been a little reluctant to start on this after I just finished my last big project, but once I got into in I realized that they were coming out really well…I just love painting textures and interesting color blends like this. At least they will “save” just fine until HowlCon reschedules or until Halloween, when I’ll just plan to start up my Etsy store regardless. For now I guess it’s also better that I focus on the more important bigger projects that I’ve kind of had on hold since before I made all those Christmas gifts. As soon as I clean up the mountain of fur, paint, and rubber noses off of my art desk you’ll be seeing me posting back on here again…hopefully, very, very soon!

 

Lycanthrope Cosmetics: Business Cards and More

Published January 13, 2016 by baileyquillincooper

I wanted to post about this last week, but I was tied up with work and then totally emotionally wrecked by David Bowie’s passing…he really meant a lot to me, like I know he also did to so many people all over the world (see my tribute to him in my last post.) Moving forward, the weekend of February 6th-7th I am going to be a vendor at a werewolf-themed horror convention in Washington called HowlCon, so my next mini-project is going to be making my inventory. I will be selling my custom-painted, hyperrealistic prosthetic werewolf ears, snouts, and noses, as well as a few other cute monster-themed accessories, all under the name Lycanthrope Cosmetics. It’s a little company that I have come up with just for this occasion, but since I plan on producing a considerable amount of prosthetics and other items I will also be creating a separate Etsy store after the fact that is just for Lycanthrope Cosmetics. My custom werewolf prosthetics were always such a huge hit whenever I had them in Quarley’s Shop, especially around Halloween, so I want there to be a way for people to still order them after the convention is over. Last week I drew up a business card logo just for Lycanthrope Cosmetics and this event. It’s based off of those classic salon window decals from the 80’s. This one in particular, actually:

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This is the line work for the image that I came up with:

Lycanthrope Cosmetics Logo in progress

Here is the finished card. I designed the logo image like I mentioned, and my husband Martyn did all the text and layout. Front:

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Back:

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Get it? Haha.

Oh, and here are some photos of some of the custom noses and ears I have painted for clients in the past. This first picture is an example of some of the popular fur color variations that I have done:

Werewolf Ears Color Variations

I always start with the Woochie and Don Post latex costume prosthetics that you can get discounted from Halloween shops or occasionally in bulk quantities online. The overall structure and material of those latex pieces that you can buy in the store is pretty great, but they always either come unpainted or airbrushed in some horrible flat band-aid pink skin tone that no human being actually is. I’ve developed a few techniques to do a complete repaint on the pieces to match real skin tones and sheen/texture, and then I hand-glue fur sprouting from the ears and noses for some added realism. I also normally custom make each prosthetic to order, so I will literally match each of my client’s exact skin tone and hair/fur color if they send me a reference picture of themselves. Below are two past clients and their corresponding pieces:

Custom Werewolf Color Matching

I’ve got to make a whole inventory of prosthetics for the event, so I’m just going to make sure that I’ve got a good selection of skin tones and fur color combinations for people to choose from. In addition to what I call my classic Wolfman style noses and ears like I’ve posted above, I will also be offering some larger style ears and a few custom elongated werewolf snouts like the one I made for my more realistic, An American Werewolf in London inspired, mid-transformation werewolf getup. The snouts are also a latex prosthetic that was sculpted and cast by a Canadian company called NorthFurFX.  They’re really well-made and so striking when worn. This is what mine looks like when it’s not on my face…the one in the foreground is the most recent incarnation that I made for last year’s Howl Con:

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I had even added one of my nose rings to the left nostril because I’m all about the small details! This is more or less what it looks like on me when I wear it:

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Yep, I even got myself a big dish of beef chow mein. I’m hilarious.

So yeah, I gotta make a lot of werewolf ears, noses, and snouts. I’m also going to make a few new interesting variants that I’ve never made, like some crazy-colored fur pieces and the the full snout version of a kitsune/huli jing, the Japanese/Chinese were-fox. Also some additional neat jewelry and accessories to fit the theme like I mentioned. It’s going to be a lot of work in not a lot of time. I’m somewhat concerned yet very excited about it. My husband Martyn and I are actually going to be sharing a booth so it should make for an easier setup at least. He’s going to be selling buttons like he usually does through his job at PORK Magazine/Goblinko Megamall and his own personal button business Power Pop Pins, only he’s going to be selling an especially made werewolf-themed inventory under the name Big Bad Buttons. He probably will bring a few PORK buttons and patches with us as well because Sean Aaberg has drawn several of his designs based off of the Universal monsters, and since this year marks the 75th anniversary of Lon Chaney Jr. as The Wolfman, it seems kinda appropriate.

Anyway, that’s pretty much a summary of all that’s going on right now…I’ll be back later right after I kick some serious painted latex ass.

 

 

Thank You, David Bowie

Published January 12, 2016 by baileyquillincooper

David Bowie has been such a major part of my life…the following collection of photos doesn’t even fully represent a decade, just a few choice examples of his inspiration on me as a person over the span of time I still have documented on my computer. He was hands down my number one inspiration for my art and my life in general, as well as my only muse who was still living. Like so many other people across the world today I feel so lost now that he is gone, and I can’t and don’t even want to think about a world without him. Humans are mortal, but muses are not. I am blessed to have shared so much time on Earth with this amazing being before he had to go back home. Thank you, David Bowie.

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Ziggy Fairy Collage

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Bowie on My Desk

Ziggy Glam Fairy Sketch

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Jareth Horns

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Stardust Sketch 1

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Mick Rock Reflection

Halloween Jack Sketch

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Bowie 60th Birthday Thumbnail

Jareth Stamps

Jareth Storyboard

Pinky Sketches

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Christmas Ornaments: Final Product

Published January 3, 2016 by baileyquillincooper

Ok, finally here is post three of three about the pet portrait Christmas ornaments. Since my reference photos of the actual pets were in my first post about design, and all of my work-in-progress photos were in my last post about my process, this post will just be pictures of the finished pieces. By the way, I also have posted these images in my portfolio website, baileyquillincooper.com. Here is Clancy:

Clancy Ornament

Clancy close up, drool strings and all:

Clancy Ornament Close Up

This is Bridgette:

Bridgette Ornament

Bridgette close up:

Bridgette Ornament Close Up

And here is MaxiMilt, aka The Brothers Orange:

MaxiMilt Ornament

The Brothers Orange close up:

MaxiMilt Close Up

So there you have it.

Christmas Ornaments: Process

Published January 2, 2016 by baileyquillincooper

This is part two of a three-part post, so make sure you check out the last one too! This one is about the process of making the pet portrait Christmas ornaments. I didn’t take a lot of in-progress photos…I was working on a bit of a time crunch as usual and also I’m kinda bad at that part anyway, although I’ve been trying to get better at it as part of a long and complicated New Year’s resolution that I have. This here is what I do have. After I designed each figure with the few sketches from my last post, I set up my workspace with all my materials.

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I have a stockpile of different gauge wire which I have collected from craft, hobby and hardware stores, which I use to build the armature, or understructure, of all of my sculptures. I don’t have a standard size that I always use or anything, it really just depends on the size of the piece I’m making and how flexible or rigid I want the inner skeleton to be. Since I wanted these sculptures to be more bendable and less breakable, I think I mostly used the more bendy steel galvanized wire for them. I started with Clancy, constructing a basic skull and spine shape and then wrapping it with masking tape.

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I made sure to that the armature wasn’t too bulky to leave room for the layers of batting and fur that I planned to add later, and I didn’t include any of the limbs because I knew from my design that I would be making them out of pipe cleaners. I also used my original drawing as reference for the general size and shape of the armature.

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Normally after this step I would continue sculpting each figure individually, but due to the time crunch and of them all needing to be shipped to the same place for Christmas anyway, I made these in more of an assemble line fashion. Right after I made the Clancy armature, I moved on to Bridgette. I think a quintessential element of the Bridgette form is the angle of the little nub tail and the aggressive hunched back, so I spent some extra time getting that part just right. I also wrapped the spine with that thin and flexible paper-covered florist wire before I covered it in masking tape just to make sure that nothing went anywhere.

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The armature for MaxiMilt/The Brothers Orange was definitely the most bizarre of them all. Because I gave them two heads and one body like a pair of cojoined twins, I had to make sure to leave enough space between each head that I would be able to sculpt each one individually. So as a result they pretty much just ended up with weird freakishly long necks which I planned on covering and padding out later.

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Here’s what it looked like from the front:

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After I had the armatures ready, I just dove straight into sculpting the heads without taking a whole lot of photos in the process. I remember that after I spent the longest time blending several colors of polymer clay together to create the perfect shade of haystack blonde for Clancy, half of his face got singed brown in my Amaco polymer clay oven for being too close to the metal ceiling. It would have been great if that had happened to the Bridgette figure, who is supposed to have a two-toned face so it actually would have saved me a step…but of course that was not my luck. This was only my second project using that oven, and although it is infinitely easier and safer to use than a conventional oven, I guess I still have a couple of things to learn. Anyway, it all ended up being alright in the end because I’m a pretty decent painter and was able to fix up his face like it never even happened. This is what he looked like painted and after the big correction:

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His eyes are 6mm glass cabochons which I purchased from a wonderful Etsy seller based out of Spokane, Washington. Her name is Megan Peterson and her shop is called SteamPunk Dream. She designs all of the eyes herself and makes a lot of really unusual and hard-to-find colors and patterns, particularly miniature animal eyes. I ended up ordering all of the eyes for this project from her, and they were a great deal as well, since glass doll eyes can get really expensive. Also in this photo, Clancy’s got an empty socket nose to be filled with a red pompom later. I used a lot of gloss varnish and even some clear nail polish to add shine and drool to all of the appropriate places.

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Later I would even add a little stringy drool with varnish and dried hot glue, because he’s a really drooly dog.

Next I sculpted Bridgette, which was a lot of fun getting in all of the little nose wrinkles on her hateful snout. Here she is before I painted her:

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In case you were wondering, I made her little teeth with broken toothpicks. Here is the most hideous and hateful little thing that you have ever seen going into an oven:

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Next up I guess was Max, and then Milton, but I really just sculpted those guys at the same time:

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I was referring to the basic sketch that I had done while adding a lot more detail as I went along, since I never spent a lot of time on that drawing and it was really only for me to get the gist of what kind of facial expression to sculpt. They turned out quite different from the drawing but I definitely like the end result much better.

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It was a fun an interesting challenge to sculpt in both the pumpkin orange clay and the white clay simultaneously to include both of their face markings without too badly smudging the colors together. Milton also had a generic super sculpey flesh colored tongue and two toothpick teeth. Here they are all cozy and fresh out of the oven:

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I think a big part of the reason why this project was so much fun was all of the different fur patterns and textures that I later got to paint or glue onto these guys…Clancy’s shaggy blonde flyaway mane, Bridgette’s two-toned face, and Max and Milton’s stripes and facial markings. Looking back at my photos, I think one of the very first things that I did was attach Clancy’s red tinsel pompom nose:

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As you can see, the drool just kept progressively getting bigger, and I wasn’t even done with it when this photo was taken!

I didn’t take many individual photos of the painting stage, but I did take a couple of neat group photos:

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By the way, these were painted with a combination of acrylic paints and all-purpose air-dry ceramic paints, with touches of acrylic varnish and clear nail polish. Hangin’ out on a toothpick box to dry overnight:

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Ugh…this post is so long and exhausting…please remind me never to save all of this work until last ever again! I should have broken into several more parts than this. Oh well. There’s only one more in-progress step that I even have any photo documentation of anyway, and that’s padding out the armatures with batting before I covered them all up with a fur skin. It may also be noted that at this point I had already glued fur and big sappy eyelashes to Clancy’s face, because his sappiness is just as big a part of his essence as his shagginess. The others had also gotten some fur ears before this photo. Anyway, here you go:

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I was extremely lucky a few months ago because I had been in need of a lot of batting for my future projects, and I walked right into SCRAP PDX to find an enormous trash-bag-sized lot of someone’s old batting collection for like three dollars. I frickin’ LOVE that place. Here’s another batting stage photo of The Brothers Orange, who definitely needed to use the most of it:

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I even added more layers of batting to them later, but unfortunately this last blurry group photo is all I got:

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So there you go, there’s all the in-progress photos that I got of this project. I’m gonna take at least a ten hour break before I write the last post that will feature the final products. See you.

 

Christmas Ornaments: Design

Published January 2, 2016 by baileyquillincooper

I was going to do a couple of blog post updates for this project as I worked on it, but due to the time crunch in getting them all finished and shipped out for Christmas I’m now posting this a little bit after the fact. I’m also just going to break it up into three main parts over three separate posts. What project am I even referring to, you ask? Well, this Christmas I decided to make gifts for my family. I made three ornaments that were portraits of the family pets. The first one I made was of my Mom’s Labradoodle, the awkward and lanky, bumbling and not-so-bright, but still well-meaning and oh-so-very-sweet Clancy. Here’s what the dog actually looks like:

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I started out by drawing a rough sketch of how I wanted each of the ornaments to look. I really liked the doofy felt antlers he has in the photo, so I carried them on into the design:

Clancy Sketch

I decided early on that I didn’t want to go with realism for these sculptures but rather make them in a more fun caricature style. I also wanted to purposefully use some of the more traditional childhood arts and craft materials like felt, pompoms, and pipe cleaners, just to sort of give these ornaments the overall feel of the handmade Christmas decorations that we made as kids and my Mom still has on her tree, however ragtag they have become over the years. Plus there’s the added benefit of the ornaments then being posable and less likely to break over time or get destroyed by the actual pets that they were their very inspiration.

The second ornament I designed was of my little sister’s dog Bridgette. She’s a two-faced, shrew-like, mean and ornery little Jack Russell Parson Terrier that might actually be a species of scrat and not a canine. My sister loves to call her “Angel” as she’s snarling and snapping at you with her horrible little scrat face. Here’s what she looks like on the rare occasion when she’s not snarling:

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Here’s my sketch of the Bridgette ornament design:

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Lastly I designed an ornament for the family cats, Max and Milton, aka The Brothers Orange. My Mom’s 20-pound twin orange tomcats that she found as newborn kittens while I was still in college in Savannah, Georgia. They were huddled together and crying in the bushes outside of my old house during a bad thunderstorm. My Mom saved them, nursed them back to health, and now they’re both enormous, obnoxious, and here to stay. The most obnoxious one by far is Max, and it was his loud nasal voice that my Mom heard in the bushes and which ended up saving them both those many years ago. Max is also mean and ornery and loves to complain more than anything else…his meow literally sounds like a grouchy old man yelling, “NOOOOOOOO!” Some of his more popular nicknames include Fat/Fatty Max, Maximum, Maxophone, Maxi Pad, and Screaming Queen Maxine. Here is Max:

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Milton on the other hand, is much more mild-mannered and non-confrontational than his brother. He’s got a shy and squeaky meow that actually sounds like, “Milt!” When my Mom found him as a kitten, he was so crumpled and disheveled that at first we didn’t know if he was even going to make it. He ended up being fine of course, but he’s always been extremely skittish and possibly a little not right in the head. He has a permanent look of shock and confusion, and we legitimately wonder if every time he sees us it’s like he’s meeting us for the first time. He also once suffered the kitty version of a stroke and ended up with a little bit of paralysis in one of his hind legs, so he’s got a distinctly clumsy way of walking and an asymmetrical style of grooming his own long fluffy fur, so he always looks very rumpled in general. Some of his more popular nicknames include RumpelMiltskin, Milter Skilter, Mr. Milt, Mystery Milt, and Miltron. Here is Milton:

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Oh, and I forgot to mention that Max and Milt are almost always together and move around the house as if they were just one cat.

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Because of this I decided to design Max and Milt as a single ornament, like in the style of cojoined twins. This is the drawing I started with:

MaxiMilt Sketch

Later I also decided to make the string that is the hanger for the ornament actually be tangling them up together like they’ve gotten into something that they shouldn’t, which is their typical behavior. This post has gotten really long, however, so I will save the finished pieces for another one. Next up: Process