ADVERTISE that cat hair jewelry GIRL!

The buzz has definitely slowed on cat hair jewelry.

It has been over a year since my cat hair jewelry found its way to the internet. I have a steady stream of traffic to my Etsy site, not a lot, but more than previously.

So, what to do? … Try a little advertising! I chose Catsparella. I like the site, it is all about cats and the ad won’t put me in debt. First step—revamped my Etsy site to showcase just cat hair jewelry. Then, make the ad. That was the hard. I wanted a binky ad and I never made one before. After “googling” how to make an animated image, then fooling around in Photoshop — voila! — a few hours later, I had my ad!

And the traffic? it has picked up, still not a lot, but it is a beginning!

Count Down … 52 Days … until … Must Love Cats!

Count Down … 56 Days … until … Must Love Cats!

Here we go! My segment is scheduled for April 7, 2011.

Animal Planet’s anxiously awaited Season Two, will kick off on March 10. The episode I am  in will be the third episode, and here are the highlights:

In this episode of Must Love Cats, host John Fulton travels down the Pacific Coast Highway in search of crazy cat lovers. In Oregon he meets a woman who is on a crusade to teach kitties how to swim. In San Francisco he visits a woman who designs jewelry out of her cat’s fur. He also meets some folks who host cat-hair crafting parties…just wait until you see what they can make! In Los Angeles, John takes his own two cats to an amazing hotel for felines. He also invites inventors to his apartment to show him their new contraptions for cleaning the litter box. Newlyweds who are feuding over their two cats is the next stop.  The couple just moved in together with their cats and it’s not a pretty sight. John invites a cat whisperer over to help. And finally, John drives to San Diego to visit one of the largest–and cutest–kitten shelters in the country.

Gaia modeling duplicate necklace made with John Fulton.

“Things That Make You Go Hmm”

Two weeks prior Animal Plant came calling. I mean, what else could happen?

Press Request – The TODAY Show – VERY URGENT! Another email, this time from the press team at Etsy: I am working with Bobbie Thomas on a segment for The TODAY Show called “Things That Make You Go Hmm”, tentatively scheduled for September 29, during the Kathie Lee & Hoda hour of the show. The nature of the segment is fun. It showcases quirky, unique and uncommon items that Bobbie finds in her travels as a stylist. She would *potentially* like to feature some of your work: brass SPIRALED cat hair necklace.

WOW! And, I had only a few hours to respond to this email!!!  Next day I packed up the necklace and then FedExed it 2-day air to New York. I mean, the shipping was not cheap! The following Thursday the show aired on msnbc. I don’t watch TV, let alone subscribe to cable, so I did’t get to see The Today Show live. But here is a clip that Catsparella included in its blog. Click on this link (TODAY SHOW) to view the cat hair jewelry segment of “Things That Make You Go Hmm”.

Next Up? Count down to Must Love Cats!!!

Knock Knock…Who’s there?…Animal Planet!!!

JULY 21—AN EMAIL

My name is Tristyn Sackmary and I’m an associate producer for the Animal Planet TV show called “Must Love Cats.” I am interested in learning more about your cat hair jewelry… I wanted to inquire to see if you would be interested in participating in our show. 

Yes I was interested!!! And August 30 was the date the crew would come to both the apartment in San Francisco and then to my art studio.

Gaia had no idea what was up. I kept it a secret from him so he would not get too nervous or too excited—he does have a habit of knowing how to steal the show! Well I was NOT OK! I was having trouble sleeping as the days grew nearer. In particular I was worried over one thing: host John Fulton and I would be making a necklace together in my studio. I decided not to leave this to chance. I worked out an idea then pre-made the pieces to save time, like they probably do on those cooking shows on TV.

AUGUST 30—HERE THEY COME!

THEY ARRIVED AT THE APARTMENT Boy was I nervous! I had never been filmed or on TV. And I would not see the finished product until it aired in 2012! So I made a choice, be nervous or have fun. OK, lets have FUN with this!

The whole process lasted ALL DAY! They started filming at 9:30 am and finished at 6:00 that evening. The filming method was spontaneous—no script, just improvise and deliver extemporaneously.

John Fulton wrote a song for Gaia called “Crafty Kitty.” He played it both on his guitar and on David’s piano. And Gaia was great, he was a star! So mellow and friendly even with six strangers in the house. He was brushed and held and followed around with a camera. John kept asking “what does Gaia get from this?”—referring to my use of his cat hair to make the jewelry. My response was more hall privileges! He does love to go out in that hall at least twice a day.

THEN OFF TO THE STUDIO We formed a car caravan, drove through San Francisco rush hour traffic, and luckily found parking for 3 cars in a row. There John and I “co-produced” a cat hair necklace. Then we were done. I was exhausted and drained. I was so tired I felt like a zombie. And that night I could not sleep. My mind kept processing and reprocessing that whole day over and over and over again. The whole event seemed so surreal. Did it really happen?!

STAY TUNED FOR SHOWING DATE ON MUST LOVE CATS!

From feline fur to fashion statement

I submitted this article in December 2010, 6 months later it was printed.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011—The Chronicle’s Pet Tales by Eileen Mitchell

It’s a well-known fact that cats love to play with balls. But how many cats play with balls made from their own hair? And how many cat guardians wear hair-ball necklaces? Flora Davis is a jewelry designer who observed her creative kitty, and then mined her cat to come up with a most unique idea.

Gaia is a flame point ragamuffin, whose luxurious fur is long, thick and white with a salmon accent. His hair is more similar to rabbit than cat and needs to be combed at least once a week or it starts to mat. When Gaia was a year old, I discovered that a rolling comb delivered mounds of fluffy hair. Ordinarily I would have thrown the hair into the compost, but it felt so soft in my hands, I couldn’t bring myself to throw it away. As I examined his beautiful hair, I started rolling it into a ball and then, on impulse, I threw it to him. He loved it!

We now play “get the ball” with Gaia’s very own personalized hair balls. I toss a ball and he chases after it, batting it around the apartment like the most expensive toy from PetSmart. He even plays on his own, chasing after it in his mouth, tossing it, and then running after it again.

All of Gaia’s grooming sessions now result in a new hair ball, and I have perfected the technique. I begin with a small handful of fluff and mold it into a starter ball. To this I mold more fluff around the edges, puff some wet breath onto it, which felts the hair, and then using both palms, I roll it back and forth until a tight solid ball forms. Over time, I discovered that Gaia preferred to play with smaller size balls. Voila! Production was under way.

But Gaia is a serious shedder and over time, the balls began to accumulate around the apartment: under the couch, behind the stove, in the closet, as well as in his sleeping basket. Awash in hair balls, I gathered a bowlful and placed them on top of the piano. Surprisingly, the balls had a lovely appearance that reminded me of oversized white pearls. This was my inspiration for using Gaia’s “toys” in another way that would display my love for this special cat.

I’ve been making jewelry for about three years and wondered: Could I string the hair balls together to create an interesting, unique piece of jewelry? Whatever the outcome, I figured the result would be a portable reminder of my soft, furry creature.

And so, I gathered the numerous balls together and pierced and strung them with fine copper wire into a necklace with an asymmetrical focal point. The result was an overwhelming hit at the 2010 San Francisco Open Studios reception where I wore the necklace with a black V-cut blouse. Amidst compliments galore, everyone was astonished to learn that the stunning work of art was made from – of all things – cat hair.

I just smiled, grateful not to have allergies. And I paid silent tribute to my vendor, companion and love, Gaia.

Gaia wearing a necklace from from his hair

Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!

As heard on NPR radio, July 2, 2011…

KASELL: My customers let out a fat purr. Your lady will know where it’s at, sir. I think feline remnants do make lovely pendants. It’s jewelry made out of?

Ms. HAGEN: Cat fur.

SAGAL: Cat fur, she said with horror, yes.

(Soundbite of bell) (Soundbite of applause)

SAGAL: British (American) cat owner Flora Davis has started selling cat hair jewelry.    Yeah, I know.

Ms. HAGEN: Okay.

SAGAL: In any event, be careful. If you see someone with a ball of cat fur stuck to their sweater, just don’t reach over and pick it off. It might be a $200 broach they bought on etsy.com.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SAGAL: Or it might be a hairball. Either way, don’t touch it.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Sweet Gaia

Keep it Weird—A Hairy Tale

There is attraction and repulsion to the unusual.

In the beginning of June, Etsy had a post on its blog called Keep it Weird: Cat Lady, and “Caged” hair puff necklace was featured. Next came Catsparella (which featured a nice post with pictures), Modern Cat, and Laughing Squid. Then an article in Wired UK, which contributed to the cat hair jewelry phenomenon going viral.

The comments to the jewelry went from one extreme to the other—creepy to awesome.

Some Hair History— hair jewelry was the height of the romanticism and sentiment that characterized the Victorian era. Some pieces were done as mourning pieces or “momento mori”.  While some may find this morbid, for the Victorians death was a common and accepted part of everyday life especially due to the higher infant mortality rate of the time, and the devastation of the Civil War. Hair jewelry was not always mourning jewelry, however, as it was also crafted as love tokens from sweethearts, family members and cherished friends.

It is interesting to note that when hair is on the head, we take pride in it, and the same could be said for hair on an animal, it usually evokes a pleasant experience.                 BUT, once it leaves it roots, aversion can set in and take over.

Cat hair “puff” necklace Redux

I am a CAT lover and artist and I also make jewelry. And some of that jewelry happens to contain cat hair.

After realizing that the feedback my first cat hair necklace received was mixed, and after getting positive mail on Etsy from individuals interested in buying a necklace, I made another.

Whenever you do something different, not everyone is going to get it. But those who do will love it.

So I posted this necklace on February 5, 2011 with a more reasonable price tag—$130.

Then I waited….

Cat hair Necklace no.2

$1,000 cat hair necklace?!

Mid 2010 I joined ETSY in hope of selling my sculptural metallic jewelry. Well, finding my shop was like searching for a needle in a hay stack. I was invisible. What could I do to bring traffic? Something fun and outrageous.

I wanted to show off my new cat hair necklace, but I did not want to sell it: it was to precious with meaning.  I posted it with a high price so nobody could buy it and waited. Within 2 days I went from 3 hits a day to 250, then 500, then 1,000 then over 2,500!!!

Where were these people coming from? For the most part, REGRETSY. And what a nasty snarky site! After two weeks I pulled the image off Etsy after reading so many negative comments about Gaia and me on Regresty. To say the least I was disheartened.

I am an ailurophile!

I realized I needed to step back, and regroup, before I could stand up again and say: “Damn right I am a cat lover!”

Gaia’s necklace no. One