Tag Archives: tortoiseshell cats

It’s Tortie Girls Time!

Tortie Girls tote bags.

Tortie Girls tote bags.

The gold and orange and yellow of tortoiseshell cats may seem more of an autumn theme, but for me those bright colors always meant June and sunshine. I love to welcome the summer with my tortie girls Cookie and Kelly on as many items as I can make.

Not everyone has the room for, or the use for, art on their wall, and I designed these block printed works to be versatile. I do offer them as prints on paper, but I’ve also printed them on sweatshirts, curtains, placemats, tote bags and so on—whatever will hold still long enough for the ink to dry. The black portion is printed in ink, then I go back into the prints and hand tint the shirts by painting ink into the design so that the color stays more durable through washing.

“The Goddess”
Well, everyone knows a fat cat who knows she’s beautiful, and Cookie would tell you that a woman with a round shape was once most desirable and an object of worship. That’s why I call her “The Goddess”.

"The Goddess," hand-tinted linoleum block print.

“The Goddess,” hand-tinted linoleum block print.

“The Roundest Eyes”
Sometimes when I look at Kelly the only feature I can distinguish in all those tortie markings is her extremely round eyes.

"The Roundest Eyes," hand-tinted linoleum block print.

“The Roundest Eyes,” hand-tinted linoleum block print.

I’ve spent a good bit of time in the past month or so printing and painting and sewing and finishing things for this month’s marketplace, and I have more Tortie Girls things than ever before, including a few things I’ve never offered before.

The hand-tinted tees drying all around my deck.

The hand-tinted tees drying all around my deck.

And of course I was duly supervised during the creation and manufacture of all of these items!

Mimi really is supervising me though it looks as if she's napping next to my paints, inks and brushes.

Mimi really is supervising me though it looks as if she’s napping next to my paints, inks and brushes.

Items include the last three Tortie Girls garden flags, tablecloths, place mats, t-shirts, unframed, framed or mounted prints, all listed below with links to my Etsy shop. Shipping cost is included in the prices listed so you don’t need to worry about calculating shipping later. And don’t forget your discount code: JUNE10, to get 10% off your entire order through June 30.

So if Tortie Girls are your definition of summer too, happy shopping!

"Those are my fur sisters' images, take care of them!" Mimi says.

“Those are my fur sisters’ images, take care of them!” Mimi says.

. . . . . . .

Tortie Girls Tees

Jenna and her mom Mary Kay model the new tees and totes.

Jenna and her mom Mary Kay model the new tees and totes.

These white cotton tees are hand-printed with a linoleum block print and then hand-painted with diluted screen-printing ink to resemble the coloring of my tortie girls, Cookie and Kelly. I sign and date each shirt, just as I would a print on paper.

The Roundest Eyes tee.

The Roundest Eyes tee.

The Goddess tee.

The Goddess tee.

Mimi gives Jenna a few tips on modeling.

Mimi gives Jenna a few tips on modeling.

Fabric is lightweight 100% organic African cotton and made in Tanzania bought in a huge lot by Dharma Trading to support their artisans. Shirts are styled with a more open neckline featuring a narrow bound edge, slightly shorter sleeves and a little more fitted than the average unisex tee, and sizes run a little smaller than the typical beefy tee. I offer shirts in sizes S-M-L-XL and printed three each of each size and pattern.

Because of the nature of the medium, each print is unique and ink coverage varies by the surface. Most artists consider this random activity to be part of the process of creating an individualized print, and along with the hand-painting makes a unique wearable work of art.

Mimi is proud of her student.

Mimi is proud of her student.

Many thanks to Jenna Corso-Gentert and her mom May Kay Gentert for modeling my tees! They look so much better on a human than on a hanger, and Jenna has a definite presence for modeling even though she is only 12, just finishing sixth grade. She studies musical theater, vocal training and dance with the Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera, and in school she is excellent in math and science.

Mary Kay is a member of our rescue group and is the person who trapped and rescued our foster Bella and Bella’s brother Butters, who they adopted. Mary Kay can always be counted on to transport any cats or supplies or traps or whatever a foster might need from anywhere to anywhere in the Pittsburgh area, up to an hour away sometimes. And they made time to come over here and model!

As you see, Mimi, an experienced art model and lighting and set designer, had some modeling pointers for Jenna. She also supervised the whole operation. I only wish the lighting had been better.

Mimi supervises the photo shoot.

Mimi supervises the photo shoot.

. . . . . . .

Tortie Girls Totes

The Roundest Eyes tote bag, approved by Mimi!

The Roundest Eyes tote bag, approved by Mimi!

And you know how Mimi likes to photobomb my product photography!

These tote bags are heavy-weight poly-cotton canvas measuring 12.5″ wide x 13″ high with a 3″ deep gusset to open and hold a lot of stuff.

Why the odd size? And poly-cotton? These bags are “repurposed”!

What the bags originally looked like.

What the bags originally looked like.

Several years ago one of my commercial customers told me he had a box of canvas bags that had been printed badly (the four fingerprints are not dark enough) and he just wanted to get rid of them—was I interested? I took them and initially tried to sell them on ebay but no one bought even one. But I had always wanted to print tote bags with my art, and from the time I’d designed the linocuts I’d wanted to see the Tortie Girls on tote bags, and decided this was a great place to start.

Mewsette inspects my materials as I iron the designs on the bags.

Mewsette inspects my materials as I iron the designs on the bags.

I printed and tinted the design on a natural cotton muslin and layered that fabric with a more opaque fabric underneath to completely cover the original design, used fusible webbing to adhere it all together and to the bag, then stitched around the outside edge to keep it in place.

Edge-stitching on the tote bags.

Edge-stitching on the tote bags.

Each is signed and dated below the design as any of my art is, so it’s art for your arm!

The Goddess tote bag--and you know how Mimi loves to photobomb my product photography.

The Goddess tote bag–and you know how Mimi loves to photobomb my product photography.

. . . . . . .

Tortie Girls Tablecloths

Tortie Girls tablecloth, The Goddess.

Tortie Girls tablecloth, The Goddess.

Made of unbleached cotton muslin, this little accent tablecloth is approximately 36″ x 36″ and has the same image printed four times, one on each side. It is signed and dated below the design and has my handwritten “label” reading “handmade, hand-printed, hand-painted” and the year. Washing instructions are included on a separate tag. Each tablecloth is signed, just as I would a print on paper. The edge is finished with an overcast stitch.

I can also customize these to a certain extent by adding your cat’s name. Please tell me you’d like to do this and include your cat’s name in the “notes” section when you order.

Because of the nature of the medium, each print is unique and ink coverage varies by the surface. Most artists consider this random activity to be part of the process of creating an individualized print, and along with the hand-painting makes a unique wearable work of art. They are also slightly odd sizes because I cut the squares without measuring, and though the fabric is nominally 72″ wide it’s not exactly that size, so…it makes them interesting.

Tortie Girls tablecloth, The Roundest Eyes.

Tortie Girls tablecloth, The Roundest Eyes.

. . . . . . .

Tortie Girls Placemats

Tortie Girls placemats, The Goddess.

Tortie Girls placemats, The Goddess.

I made these extra-large 14″ x 18″ placemats of sturdy cotton duck with a folded hem on the top, bottom and left edges and the selvage on the right. Each is signed and dated below the design as any of my art is, so it’s art for your table! I sign each placemat, just as I would a print on paper.

I can also customize these to a certain extent by adding your cat’s name. Please tell me you ‘d like to do this and include your cat’s name in the “notes” section when you order. Please ask about set pricing if you’d like more than one.

Tortie Girls placemats, The Roundest Eyes.

Tortie Girls placemats, The Roundest Eyes.

. . . . . . .

Tortie Girls Prints

The Tortie Girls set.

The Tortie Girls set.

I originally designed these in 2001 before digital and giclee printing were affordable to take with me to smaller art festivals and to donate to shelter and rescue events. These framed prints were the original intent and while they’ve gone so much farther in the past 14 years I still love these prints matted and framed as I’d visualized them before I even purchased the linoleum blocks.

They are a set of hand printed, hand tinted linoleum block prints featuring my tortoiseshell girls. I print them with screen printing ink and then hand tint each one with watercolor. I offer them matted and framed and ready to hang, or you can get them matted only, tinted only with no mat, or just the print, and you can also choose just “The Goddess” or “The Roundest Eyes”. Each image is 8″ x 12″, with mat and frame outside dimensions 16″ x 20″, horizontal or vertical as shown in the photo.

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Tortie Girls Wood Mount Prints

Tortie Girls wood mounted prints.

Tortie Girls wood mounted prints.

The 9″ x 12″ block, originally intended for painting, is a 1/8″ birch wood panel “cradled” with a 1.5″ tall canvas stretcher added to the back for strength and stability and, incidentally, ease of hanging, and this size can even stand up on a tabletop. I’ve painted the sides black and mounted a print edge to edge on the top surface, then covered it with acrylic finish. I offer “The Goddess” and “The Roundest Eyes” individually as well as in a set.

The prints are hand-colored and signed block prints of “The Goddess” and “The Roundest Eyes” decoupaged on the surface. I first print the block print in acrylic ink on rice paper, allow it to dry, and hand color each one individually with watercolors. Then I paint the block with acrylic paint, black on the sides and white on top. I adhere the finished, colored print onto the block and let it dry, then put a coat of matte-finish acrylic on the top and sides.

. . . . . . .

Tortie Girls Prints Hot Pads

Tortie Girls hot pads, The Goddess.

Tortie Girls hot pads, The Goddess.

This product is an 9″ x 12″ cork-backed wood panel with feline art on the front that you can use as a hot pad or a decorative item to protect your countertop–or any surface, not just the kitchen counters!

The print is a hand-colored, hand-tinted and signed block print decoupaged on the surface. I first print the block print in acrylic ink on rice paper, allow it to dry, and hand color each one individually with watercolors.

I used an 9″ x 12″ hardboard panel 1/8″ thick originally intended for oil or acrylic painting and adhered a high-quality digital print of one of my paintings to the front. I covered the front and edges with several thin coats of satin-finish acrylic varnish, the same one that’s lasted 15 years on my kitchen counters, for protection from moisture and heat, and easy clean-up. It is backed with a thin sheet of cork to keep it in place.

The surface will withstand the occasional heat of items from a moderately hot oven such as glass casseroles or pie pans, and also will resist water and other liquids so you can use it under glasses or mugs. I don’t recommend completely immersing it in water to wash, but wiping it with mild detergent and then rinsing.

Tortie Girls hot pads, The Roundest Eyes.

Tortie Girls hot pads, The Roundest Eyes.

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Tortie Girls Prints Garden Flags

Tortie Girls garden flags, The Goddess.

Tortie Girls garden flags, The Goddess.

I’m a little sad that I won’t be able to offer these garden flags anymore unless I come up with another way to create small quantities of them. And I only have two of “The Goddess” and one of “The Roundest Eyes” left!

These “garden flags” are digitally printed on both sides of a heavyweight, durable indoor/outdoor woven printable fabric, and I finish by adding the rod pocket. (Bracket is not included.) Each flag has a design on both sides, in this case it’s “The Goddess on both sides, one side with a white background and one side with a yellow background. Flags are 11” wide x 15” tall and fit the most common garden flag bracket available, sold in most hardware and home renovation stores with a garden area.

Tortie Girls garden flags, The Roundest Eyes.

Tortie Girls garden flags, The Roundest Eyes.


Mimi scolds me for not letting the blocks dry properly.

Mimi scolds me for not letting the blocks dry properly.

Marketplace

Mimi scolds me for not letting the blocks dry properly.

Take a look at other new merchandise and featured artwork.

Once a week on Thursday I feature something new in my “shop”, whether that’s here on The Creative Cat, in my Etsy shop, on my main website or even at one of the bricks and mortar shops that carry my work.

Read about creating custom items

Find out more about creating custom items for your own home using the images you see here. Visit the “Ordering Custom Art” page to see samples and read bout how to order.

Find out about events and festivals where you can find me and my work.

Sign up for my e-newsletter (below), check the widget on the sidebar on my home page, or sign up to receive posts on Portraits of Animals Marketplace. I plan on plenty of events this coming summer in the Pittsburgh area.

It’s all done under the close and careful supervision of my studio cats!

Subscribe to My E-newsletter

Subscribe to The Creative Cat e-newsletter for specials on exclusively feline-themed art and merchandise.

All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit Ordering Custom Artwork for more information on a custom greeting card, print or other item.


Inspired by felines you know! Visit Portraits of Animals on Etsy.

AfterDinnerNap-Etsy


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Special Prints for Valentine’s Day

linocuts of tortoiseshell cats
“Tortie Girls in Black and Red” Set of two framed prints.

Cards and gifts for cat lovers and lovers with cats 10% off in my Etsy shop now through Valentine’s Day! Use the coupon code VALENTINE10 when shopping in my Etsy shop.

A Special Couple…

Tortie Girls in Red and Black

A set of hand printed linoleum block prints featuring my tortoiseshell girls, matted and framed and ready to hang.

“The Goddess”
Well, everyone knows a fat cat who knows she’s beautiful, and Cookie would tell you that a woman with a round shape was once most desirable and an object of worship. That’s why I call her “The Goddess”.

“The Roundest Eyes”
Sometimes when I look at Kelly the only feature I can distinguish in all those tortie markings is her extremely round eyes.

Unlike other versions of this print in my Etsy shop and on my website which are usually hand-tinted with the orange and yellow of tortoiseshell cats, I have left this in black only for that lovely effective contrast of black ink on white rice paper. Image is 8″ x 12″, with my favorite rich red acid-free mat and a solid wood black matte-finish 12″ x 16″ frame. Read a little more about the print and the girls here on The Creative Cat or find it in my Etsy shop.


A Special Print

"Awakening" linoleum block print, matted in rich red and framed in a matte black frame.
“Awakening” linoleum block print, matted in rich red and framed in a matte black frame.

“Awakening”

“Awakening” is a linoleum block print, 16″ in diameter, printed in water-based ink on handmade white rice paper. For Valentine’s Day I’m offering a print matted with a rich red mat to encircle your feline loves.

Mat is an acid-free rich red, my favorite shade to coordinate with plain black and white block prints; not too bright, not too dull. I cut the circular mat myself in my studio; the narrowest portion of the mat is 1.5″. The frame is a 1″ wide plain black matte-finish wood. The final framed size is 21″ x 21″. You can read about this print here on The Creative Cat or in my Etsy shop .


Inspired by felines you know!

Click on the banner below to visit Portraits of Animals on Etsy for more of my designs inspired by the cats you read about each day.

Inspired by felines you know! Visit Portraits of Animals on Etsy!

Subscribe to The Creative Cat e-newsletter for specials on exclusively feline-themed art and merchandise.


All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit Ordering Custom Artwork for more information on a custom greeting card, print or other item.


2013 Desk or Wall Calendars Featuring My Creative Cats

image of cat calendars
Desk and journal calendars for 2013, “In the Kitchen with Cookie” and “Compositions in Green and Black”

I finally have my calendars on their way after a bit of a delay—the paper I’d chosen simply wasn’t available as we began printing. The printer and I cast about for another similar stock with a matte-coated finish that would hold the image as clearly as a gloss coat but be much easier to write on, my preference for calendars and found two, choosing one from those and while the calendars are in production I have my proofs, shown above. The first bound copies are so exciting to look at!

In the Kitchen with Cookie

images of cat calendars
In the Kitchen With Cookie, journal and wall style.

If you’ve followed my daily photos on The Creative Cat you may be familiar with my photos of Cookie interacting with properly-warmed pasta bowls, enamel pots and glass salad bowls in the series called “In the Kitchen With Cookie”. I was lucky enough to catch her in the act through the years photographing a dozen amusing images of Cookie exploring alternate uses for these items.

A number of readers requested a calendar which sounds like a wonderful idea to me, especially as a tribute to a part of Cookie’s unforgettable curiosity that still makes me laugh. The calendar is a 5.5″ x 8″ spiral-bound calendar printed on 100# matte-finish text paper so it’s easy to write on but the art still looks bright and crisp.

Each page will include one main photo of Cookie caught in the act which was either taken during that particular month or is themed for that month plus the recipe that corresponds. Other photos of Cookie from the same and related explorations will decorate open areas on the calendar page.

A monthly calendar includes basic holidays, moon phases and a few other things and room for notes at the bottom.

images of calendars with cat
In the Kitchen With Cookie, journal and wall style open to spreads.

A bit of the text from that day’s post on The Creative Cat and the will be in the back of the calendar with a thumbnail of the main image.

I decided on that size for the sake that it can be bound across the top so that it hangs like a wall calendar, or bound down the left so that it opens like a journal. I will have both variations available for sale, so be sure to choose Wall Calendar or Journal Style when you purchase. Wall Calendar is the default choice.

As a complement to the calendar, I am also designing from the images in this calendar a number of complementary products such as placemats, decorative trays and wood-mounted artwork, and any image can be ordered as a print. Sign up for my e-newsletter at the bottom of this page to be sure you don’t miss any special offers.

Below is a detail of the cover and a detail of one of the interior pages, plus ordering information.


tortoiseshell cat in pasta bowl
In the Kitchen With Cookie 2013 Calendar.
page from cat calendar
A sample page from the calendar.

Click here to browse some of the images included in this calendar.

You can purchase this calendar directly from this page using the button directly below and they will soon be added to my Etsy shop if there are also things you’d like to purchase there.

Wall Calendar, bound across the top and drilled for a hook or nail.

Journal Calendar, bound on the left side to open like a book.


Compositions in Black and Green

image of calendars with black cats
Compositions in Black and Green, journal and wall style.

Well, this is a natural for me, isn’t it?! I’ve been planning a calendar celebrating the beauty of black cats especially since Mimi and the Fantastic Four joined my life, only hesitating because I have SO MANY images and ideas that I can’t settle on one. But I find it imperative to create something that will also benefit the adoption of black cats because they are often left behind in the shelter. These five wonderful black cats will show the world that everyone needs to have at least one black kitty in their life, and, at least in my house, the more the merrier! I chose this theme for one of these small calendars because it’s a collection including silly, cute and artful photos in equal measure, just the thing to show others what black cats can bring to your life.

The calendar is a 5.5″ x 8″ spiral-bound calendar printed on 100# matte-finish text paper so it’s easy to write on but the art still looks bright and crisp.

images of black cats calendar
Compositions in Black and Green, journal and wall style, two spreads.

I decided on that size for the sake that it can be bound across the top so that it hangs like a wall calendar, or bound down the left so that it opens like a journal. I will have both variations available for sale, so be sure to choose Wall Calendar or Journal Style when you purchase. Wall Calendar is the default choice.

Compositions in Green and Black back cover.

As a complement to the calendar, I am also designing from the images in this calendar a number of complementary products such as placemats, decorative trays and wood-mounted artwork, and any image can be ordered as a print. Sign up for my e-newsletter at the bottom of this page to be sure you don’t miss any special offers.

Below is a detail of the cover and a detail of one of the interior pages, plus ordering information.


calendar cover with black cat
Compositions in Black and Green
Sample calendar page.

Click here to browse some of the images included in this calendar.

You can purchase this calendar directly from this page using the button directly below or soon in my Etsy shop if there are also things you’d like to purchase there.

Wall Calendar, bound across the top and drilled for a hook or nail.

Journal Calendar, bound on the left side to open like a book.


Great Rescues Day Book

cover of book
Great Rescues Day Book

I also offer the Great Rescues Day Book, and it’s more than a calendar so it has its own page.

Please also see “Great Rescues Day Book” for another calendar product.


Subscribe to The Creative Cat e-newsletter for specials on exclusively feline-themed art and merchandise.


All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit Ordering Custom Artwork for more information on a custom greeting card, print or other item.


Tortie Girls Block Print Tee Shirts

The Goddess block-printed t-shirtCookie, “The Goddess” block print © B.E. Kazmarski
detail of "the goddess" face

Detail of "The Goddess"

I’ve had several requests about my tortie girls t-shirts lately, so I thought I’d add the ones I have back to my Etsy site. While I am low on sizes I had put them all aside until I could print more and have all sizes available. But considering I print these in oil-based ink and clean up with turpentine I usually wait until I can have the windows open or I can print outdoors, which is March at the earliest. So for now, they are either very large or very small.

As you know, I am unendingly inspired by my houseful of felines, especially my Tortie Girls. I initially designed these in 2001 because I wanted something I could print myself on a variety of things to offer inexpensively for sale and for donation; at the time high quality home printers and inexpensive digital printing were a few years in the future and all I had to offer was original art and expensive giclees.

How the designs came to be

I looked at Cookie on the kitchen floor, on her back with her toes curled, a defiant look on her face, and it happened—that moment of visualization. I could see a linoleum block print in black ink on white rice paper, hand-tinted with oranges and yellows for the patches in Cookie’s tortoiseshell fur and green for her eyes and pink for her nose. I would call the print “The Goddess” for the many women depicted with generous figures in sculpture and painting through the millennia.

With an inspiration that strong, I probably would have done it anyway. I’d worked with small linoleum block prints for years and always enjoyed the medium, but this time I decided I wanted something larger and I might actually create a series—which led to “The Roundest Eyes” depicting my other tortie, Kelly, a few months later.

Capturing all Cookie’s freckles and spots and stripes was indeed a challenge, especially when I went to actually cut them out of the surface of the linoleum block. Below, compare the reference photo and the print.

tortie cat on back

Reference photo for "The Goddess"

Cookie, "The Goddess" block print © B.E. Kazmarski

“The Goddess”
Well, everyone knows a fat cat who knows she’s beautiful, and Cookie would tell you that a woman with a round shape was once most desirable and an object of worship. That’s why I call her “The Goddess”.

From the time I first described it to someone, who chuckled at the idea of the image, I knew Cookie was a winner. And through the years she has continued to bring people and stories to my display no matter where I am—everyone knows a cat who looks like Cookie!

block print of tortoiseshell cat

The Roundest Eyes, linoleum block print © B.E. Kazmarski

“The Roundest Eyes”
Sometimes when I look at Kelly the only feature I can distinguish in all those tortie markings is her extremely round eyes.

detail of the roundest eyes block print

Detail of "The Roundest Eyes"

In designing the set, I didn’t have a signature photo of Kelly as I did Cookie lying on the floor, but I did know how I thought of Kelly—sitting at attention, paws and tail neatly placed, a little uncertain and with very round eyes. When I pictured her, this was what I saw.

I began with a few photos of Kelly sitting in this position—in the days before digitals so I had to wait for film to be developed—sketched it out, then filled in the details by observation. It was a real trick since Kelly never sits still for too long. And I actually wanted two different orientations so Cookie was the horizontal image and Kelly the vertical one.

The design of “The Roundest Eyes” doesn’t have a long and detailed story as does “The Goddess”, but between the two, while Cookie gets more notice and stories, Kelly sells more t-shirts and prints…we just don’t let Cookie know that.

Where to find the tees

I have all the tees available in my Etsy shop under T-shirts and Apparel.

About Block Printing

I really enjoy working in this medium and I can free myself from the traditional media and a greater realism in rendering. Linoleum block printing is a technique wherein the artist carves the surface of a piece of artist’s linoleum, leaving raised areas which will become the image. Ink is rolled onto these raised areas, then a piece of paper is pressed against the block and when it’s lifted away the ink remains, leaving the image on the paper.

The resulting work isn’t a one-time thing, but meant to be printed multiple times–and I do, on just about anything I can think of. They all start out on paper, but they’ve been printed on t-shirts and dresses and aprons and curtains, to name a few things. I nearly always add color to The Tortie Girls with watercolor or dyes since that was part of the original design, and I’ll often add color to other designs to give them extra interest. I do like the look of The Tortie Girls just in black on white paper, though, and I’ll be printing up a few of those soon. The resulting work, even though they are all printed from the same block, is a unique print, still handmade by the artist.

Because of the nature of the medium, each print is unique and ink coverage is not always perfect. Most artists consider this random activity to be part of the process of creating an individualized print, and along with the hand-painting makes a unique work of art.

The designs without color

See what you think about what these designs look like without the color added. I love the simplicity of black on white, it’s what I love about a block print. I have a few shirts without the color as well, and they look really sharp matted and framed with a rich red mat (sorry for the wrinkles in the wrap, below) and a black frame.

block print of cat

The Goddess, linoleum block print © B.E. Kazmarski

matted block print of cat

The Roundest Eyes, linoleum block print without color © B.E. Kazmarski

Matted and framed

framed block print of tortoiseshell cat

The Goddess

framed block print of tortoiseshell cat

The Roundest Eyes

Each image is 8″ x 12″, with mat and frame outside dimensions 14″ x 18″, horizontal or vertical as shown in the photo.

They are double matted with a warm cream on top and 1/4″ pumpkin orange as a liner.

The frame is 1″ wide, solid matte black; these vary as the moulding is available, but it is always wood and always has a matte black finish.

Find the girls in my Etsy shop under “Prints”.


Just a Few Aprons Left!

two ladies wearing aprons with cats

The Tortie Girls aprons make their debut, modeled by Maggie and Diane!

When it comes to the handmade goods you see on the internet and at shows and festivals, did you ever wonder how the artist developed that item from an idea into a product you can purchase? The path is often less than direct, but most people who make things have the incentive of sharing what they’ve made with people who would enjoy it.

block print curtain

Detail of The Goddess curtain

I won’t go all the way back to the genesis of these block prints. I designed them and cut the blocks about 12 years ago, beginning with prints on paper but always intending to move out to other products, like the t-shirts I recently sold to benefit Japan in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami; I’ve also printed them on curtains, tablecloths, place mats, scarves and other textiles to pleasing success with each—and I can’t wait for this summer’s printing sessions, now that the weather is good.

printed aprons on hangers

Cookie aprons drying out on the deck.

But I always wanted to print on an apron! A nice full apron with ties around the back of the neck. I don’t know why, but it may have been the popularity of the other kitchen items with the girls on them that encouraged me, or it may have been the cat-themed aprons I received as gifts.

Sometimes I’ll make my own products to print on, as I did with the place mats and table cloths and a few curtains, but those were unique sizes and shapes. The apron, well, I’ve made aprons in the past, and I knew I really didn’t want to make a dozen aprons for this project.

printed aprons drying on hangers

Kelly gets her turn.

So that left me to shop the market for blank aprons. I considered looking for one or two in local stores, but retail items are prepared for display and sale and always have a little—or a lot—bit of sizing in them which is difficult to print on and impossible to paint on with cold-set fabric paints, as I discovered when I purchased a package of tees and tried to print on them. I had to over-ink the block, and the dye rolled right off. This also happened with most tablecloths and curtains. I could wash it, but then I’d have to press it out completely to look like new, and while I actually enjoy ironing, that was a little more time than I wanted to spend on a t-shirt, in part because I also noticed they weren’t as heavy or as well-made as the blanks I usually purchased. I considered it a disaster and decided I wouldn’t waste my time again.

tortoiseshell cat image on apron

The Goddess on an apron!

But there are companies that sell blank items for just this purpose; my favorite is Dharma Trading Company. I always look for fair trade items made from organic materials by someone who was paid a living wage to make the thing; I don’t mind paying for that and generally my customers don’t mind paying for it, either, and we all support each other. Dharma always has these fair-trade options, but the aprons were always a little more than I wanted to pay and I decided I’d wait until they came down in price.

tortoiseshell cat image on an apron

Kelly already watches everything I do in the kitchen.

Just in the past year, the aprons came down in price, and a customer going out of business handed me a half dozen blank aprons that were more than acceptable saying, “I’ll bet you can do something with these!”

Indeed! The white cotton duck aprons were pretty close to what I would have chosen, and you can’t beat “free”! The only thing was to wait for good weather since I still need to use my oil-based ink on textiles, and the smell of the ink (smells like an oil spill) and turpentine (even the “safe” stuff smells) is not something I want to fill my basement with, not to mention it’s flammable. So for safety’s sake, I wait for a day that’s at least 50 degrees and sunny, and print as much as I can.

We had one of those days in March, and I had everything ready as the temperature began to rise; I also had to print a few Tortie Girls t-shirts people had ordered in sizes I thought I had but did not, and I was nearly out of prints on paper which I also need to print in oil-based ink to resist the watercolor I paint into them.

ghosted printed image

Detail of the ghosted image.

So I started with the old familiar rice paper and got the block all warmed up with those, then went to the tees and got the block ready for the fabric. I knew the cotton duck was a little stiffer than fabrics I usually used, and if I washed it to soften it I’d again have to press it out and make sure it looked like new, so I took the chance to print on the fabric as it was.

painted tortie cat image

Coverage not dark enough, and it takes too much ink!

Block printing is a technique wherein the artist carves the surface of a piece of linoleum, leaving raised areas which will become the image. Ink is rolled onto these raised areas, then a piece of paper or other surface is pressed against the block by hand or by a press—in my case it’s by hand, and I use a “baren” and my fingers to press the surface against the block, rubbing gently against each of the details of the block and can sometimes even see the ink soaking into the fabric.

Still, I don’t know if it’s all evenly inked until I lift the surface from the block. When it’s lifted away the ink remains, leaving the image on the surface. Because of the nature of the medium, each print is unique and ink coverage varies by the surface. Most artists consider this random activity to be part of the process of creating an individualized print, and along with the hand-painting makes a unique wearable work of art. Even with this, I want even coverage with no filling of the tiny details and no doubling or ghosting of the image.

fabric dye spreading

Cookie aglow. That won't work!

I had three aprons for each of the two Tortie Girls. Even with the best of preparation, there is still the chance for difficulty, and it took me two of the aprons to get the amount of ink correct, and the pressure to print until I got one good impression. With each of them, one print wasn’t inked enough, and the next print ghosted, or produced a slightly doubled image because the fabric shifted after I had impressed it on the block. Oh, well.

tortie cat on apron

Kelly's edges are spreading too.

Then came the painting of the aprons, and seeing the tight weave of the fabric I decided first to use fabric markers since I could press the marker against the fabric and the pigment wouldn’t chance rolling off. It really didn’t cover the fabric well, just the surface, unless I really pushed, and I’d have to purchase a new fabric marker for each apron at this rate.

Then I tried dampening the fabric to see if the fabric marker settled in a little better. Usually, when I paint the tees and other lighter-weight products, the ink has settled into the fibers of the fabric and acts as a barrier to the water or paint; not so with the aprons, as you can see by Cookie’s and Kelly’s “glow”.

So I went back to the cold-set fabric dyes and carefully painted a priming layer of dye that lightly soaked into the fabric but dampened it enough that the next pass of the brush colored the fabric just about right with a minimum of runaway dye, producing two “good” aprons.

I secretly showed them to the tortie group when I went to the book-signing in Washington. They seemed to pass muster.

That leaves just a few for me to use or pass along to friends to product test in the kitchen and in the laundry. But I got one good print out of each of them, and I have those for sale on Etsy.

women clinking glasses wearing aprons

I think they enjoy modeling as much as I enjoy printing! Perhaps it's the glasses of wine...

They are also modeled here by Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall Executive Director Maggie Forbes and Library Director Diane Klinefelter. Thanks for taking the time to model for me!

I think after this little experiment I’ll get a few of the softer natural-colored canvas aprons I had seen at Dharma Trading, and now that the weather is consistently warmer I won’t have to wait for the two hours in an afternoon to print.


Developing a New Product: Aprons

two ladies wearing aprons with cats

The Tortie Girls aprons make their debut, modeled by Maggie and Diane!

When it comes to the handmade goods you see on the internet and at shows and festivals, did you ever wonder how the artist developed that item from an idea into a product you can purchase? The path is often less than direct, but most people who make things have the incentive of sharing what they’ve made with people who would enjoy it.

block print curtain

Detail of The Goddess curtain

I won’t go all the way back to the genesis of these block prints. I designed them and cut the blocks about 12 years ago, beginning with prints on paper but always intending to move out to other products, like the t-shirts I recently sold to benefit Japan in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami; I’ve also printed them on curtains, tablecloths, place mats, scarves and other textiles to pleasing success with each—and I can’t wait for this summer’s printing sessions, now that the weather is good.

printed aprons on hangers

Cookie aprons drying out on the deck.

But I always wanted to print on an apron! A nice full apron with ties around the back of the neck. I don’t know why, but it may have been the popularity of the other kitchen items with the girls on them that encouraged me, or it may have been the cat-themed aprons I received as gifts.

Sometimes I’ll make my own products to print on, as I did with the place mats and table cloths and a few curtains, but those were unique sizes and shapes. The apron, well, I’ve made aprons in the past, and I knew I really didn’t want to make a dozen aprons for this project.

printed aprons drying on hangers

Kelly gets her turn.

So that left me to shop the market for blank aprons. I considered looking for one or two in local stores, but retail items are prepared for display and sale and always have a little—or a lot—bit of sizing in them which is difficult to print on and impossible to paint on with cold-set fabric paints, as I discovered when I purchased a package of tees and tried to print on them. I had to over-ink the block, and the dye rolled right off. This also happened with most tablecloths and curtains. I could wash it, but then I’d have to press it out completely to look like new, and while I actually enjoy ironing, that was a little more time than I wanted to spend on a t-shirt, in part because I also noticed they weren’t as heavy or as well-made as the blanks I usually purchased. I considered it a disaster and decided I wouldn’t waste my time again.

tortoiseshell cat image on apron

The Goddess on an apron!

But there are companies that sell blank items for just this purpose; my favorite is Dharma Trading Company. I always look for fair trade items made from organic materials by someone who was paid a living wage to make the thing; I don’t mind paying for that and generally my customers don’t mind paying for it, either, and we all support each other. Dharma always has these fair-trade options, but the aprons were always a little more than I wanted to pay and I decided I’d wait until they came down in price.

tortoiseshell cat image on an apron

Kelly already watches everything I do in the kitchen.

Just in the past year, the aprons came down in price, and a customer going out of business handed me a half dozen blank aprons that were more than acceptable saying, “I’ll bet you can do something with these!”

Indeed! The white cotton duck aprons were pretty close to what I would have chosen, and you can’t beat “free”! The only thing was to wait for good weather since I still need to use my oil-based ink on textiles, and the smell of the ink (smells like an oil spill) and turpentine (even the “safe” stuff smells) is not something I want to fill my basement with, not to mention it’s flammable. So for safety’s sake, I wait for a day that’s at least 50 degrees and sunny, and print as much as I can.

We had one of those days in March, and I had everything ready as the temperature began to rise; I also had to print a few Tortie Girls t-shirts people had ordered in sizes I thought I had but did not, and I was nearly out of prints on paper which I also need to print in oil-based ink to resist the watercolor I paint into them.

ghosted printed image

Detail of the ghosted image.

So I started with the old familiar rice paper and got the block all warmed up with those, then went to the tees and got the block ready for the fabric. I knew the cotton duck was a little stiffer than fabrics I usually used, and if I washed it to soften it I’d again have to press it out and make sure it looked like new, so I took the chance to print on the fabric as it was.

painted tortie cat image

Coverage not dark enough, and it takes too much ink!

Block printing is a technique wherein the artist carves the surface of a piece of linoleum, leaving raised areas which will become the image. Ink is rolled onto these raised areas, then a piece of paper or other surface is pressed against the block by hand or by a press—in my case it’s by hand, and I use a “baren” and my fingers to press the surface against the block, rubbing gently against each of the details of the block and can sometimes even see the ink soaking into the fabric.

Still, I don’t know if it’s all evenly inked until I lift the surface from the block. When it’s lifted away the ink remains, leaving the image on the surface. Because of the nature of the medium, each print is unique and ink coverage varies by the surface. Most artists consider this random activity to be part of the process of creating an individualized print, and along with the hand-painting makes a unique wearable work of art. Even with this, I want even coverage with no filling of the tiny details and no doubling or ghosting of the image.

fabric dye spreading

Cookie aglow. That won't work!

I had three aprons for each of the two Tortie Girls. Even with the best of preparation, there is still the chance for difficulty, and it took me two of the aprons to get the amount of ink correct, and the pressure to print until I got one good impression. With each of them, one print wasn’t inked enough, and the next print ghosted, or produced a slightly doubled image because the fabric shifted after I had impressed it on the block. Oh, well.

tortie cat on apron

Kelly's edges are spreading too.

Then came the painting of the aprons, and seeing the tight weave of the fabric I decided first to use fabric markers since I could press the marker against the fabric and the pigment wouldn’t chance rolling off. It really didn’t cover the fabric well, just the surface, unless I really pushed, and I’d have to purchase a new fabric marker for each apron at this rate.

Then I tried dampening the fabric to see if the fabric marker settled in a little better. Usually, when I paint the tees and other lighter-weight products, the ink has settled into the fibers of the fabric and acts as a barrier to the water or paint; not so with the aprons, as you can see by Cookie’s and Kelly’s “glow”.

So I went back to the cold-set fabric dyes and carefully painted a priming layer of dye that lightly soaked into the fabric but dampened it enough that the next pass of the brush colored the fabric just about right with a minimum of runaway dye, producing two “good” aprons.

I secretly showed them to the tortie group when I went to the book-signing in Washington. They seemed to pass muster.

That leaves four for me to use or pass along to friends to product test in the kitchen and in the laundry. But I got one good print out of each of them, and I have those for sale on Etsy.

women clinking glasses wearing aprons

I think they enjoy modeling as much as I enjoy printing! Perhaps it's the glasses of wine...

They are also modeled here by Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall Executive Director Maggie Forbes and Library Director Diane Klinefelter. Thanks for taking the time to model for me!

I think after this little experiment I’ll get a few of the softer natural-colored canvas aprons I had seen at Dharma Trading, and now that the weather is consistently warmer I won’t have to wait for the two hours in an afternoon to print.


We Really Are Helping Our Friends in Japan!

So far six Torti Girls tees sold to help animals in Japan! That’s a donation of $75! I still have six tees left, and it would be so nice to make a donation of $150! I’m donating to either Animal Refuge Kansai (if I can convert dollars to yen correctly), or to Japan Earthquake Animal Rescue and Support.

Painting by Kuniyoshi Utagawa

The Japanese people are legendarily fond of cats, have been through history. In every stage of art in their culture you’ll find felines of all stripes and spots and solids depicted in paintings happily ensconced in homes, walking about the estate, in sculptures curled in sleep and famously with one paw lifted welcoming you to the garden. More than a few of these kitties are calico or tortoiseshell as “red” is a favorite and highly symbolic color.

And, often, in the background of the painting you’ll see the ocean, as it is in the background of their lives every day. Obviously, being a chain of islands, the ocean, what it gives and what it takes, is a constant presence in the lives of the Japanese, and with it the cultural knowledge of the ocean’s destructive power. (See a little more art like that at left here).

We witnessed that power on March 11 as an earthquake shook the land at Sendai, creating a tsunami that slammed into the eastern coastline. Remembering from the 2004 tsunami and the Haiti and Chile earthquakes as well as other natural disasters, we won’t know the full toll for days or weeks.

In Japan, wherever there are people, there are cats, beloved pets, and where pets are not allowed there are Cat Cafes where cats live to be visited by customers who drink tea and pet kitties. And tragically the earthquake’s epicenter was about 60 miles from Cat Island, a haven for the elderly and for many stray cats who are fed and cherished by all residents. To date we’ve heard that Cat Island had a good bit of damage and supplies are needed, but the island also has a good bit of high ground so hopefully people and cats could escape the tsunami.

My Tortie Girls Go to Japan

detail of "the goddess" face

Detail of "The Goddess"

detail of the roundest eyes block print

Detail of "The Roundest Eyes"

Through one of my wholesale customers, many of my Tortie Cats t-shirts have shipped off to customers in Japan. Considering their love of cats, this is not surprising.

Also considering the tradition of block printing, or relief printing with wood, in Japan, especially hand-colored prints, this seems like a natural combination. After all, where do you think I first saw this technique, and years later decided to render my girls’ portraits in this medium?

Donate to Animal Refuge Kansai for the Animals of Japan

I will donate half of the selling price to Animal Refuge Kansai from sales of my t-shirts and framed block prints sold in a set or individually. I have limited stock, in part because I always wait for warmer weather to print these shirts and prints:

Read below more about block printing and about these prints, and visit my Etsy shop to purchase. Also visit The Conscious Cat to find other opportunities to donate and help all animals in Japan after this devastating disaster.

Inspired by my felines

I am unendingly inspired by my houseful of felines, especially those two tortoiseshell calicos. I print these by hand from a hand-cut linoleum block, then each individually is hand-painted in watercolor.

“The Goddess”
Well, everyone knows a fat cat who knows she’s beautiful, and Cookie would tell you that a woman with a round shape was once most desirable and an object of worship. That’s why I call her “The Goddess”.

“The Roundest Eyes”
Sometimes when I look at Kelly the only feature I can distinguish in all those tortie markings is her extremely round eyes.

framed block print of tortoiseshell cat

The Goddess

framed block print of tortoiseshell cat

The Roundest Eyes

Each image is 8″ x 12″, with mat and frame outside dimensions 14″ x 18″, horizontal or vertical as shown in the photo.

Find the girls in my Etsy shop under “Prints”.

I have also printed the girls on white t-shirts. You can also find these in my Etsy shop under T-shirts or in the Marketplace on my website under Apparel>Block Printed Tees.

About Block Printing

I really enjoy working in this medium and I can free myself from the traditional media and a greater realism in rendering. Linoleum block printing is a technique wherein the artist carves the surface of a piece of artist’s linoleum, leaving raised areas which will become the image. Ink is rolled onto these raised areas, then a piece of paper is pressed against the block and when it’s lifted away the ink remains, leaving the image on the paper.

The resulting work isn’t a one-time thing, but meant to be printed multiple times–and I do, on just about anything I can think of. They all start out on paper, but they’ve been printed on t-shirts and dresses and aprons and curtains, to name a few things. I will sometimes add color to them with watercolor or dyes to give them extra interest. The resulting work, even though they are all printed from the same block, is a unique print, still handmade by the artist.

Because of the nature of the medium, each print is unique and ink coverage is not always perfect. Most artists consider this random activity to be part of the process of creating an individualized print, and along with the hand-painting makes a unique work of art.


Tortie Cats to Help Our Friends in Japan

Painting by Kuniyoshi Utagawa

The Japanese people are legendarily fond of cats, have been through history. In every stage of art in their culture you’ll find felines of all stripes and spots and solids depicted in paintings happily ensconced in homes, walking about the estate, in sculptures curled in sleep and famously with one paw lifted welcoming you to the garden. More than a few of these kitties are calico or tortoiseshell as “red” is a favorite and highly symbolic color.

And, often, in the background of the painting you’ll see the ocean, as it is in the background of their lives every day. Obviously, being a chain of islands, the ocean, what it gives and what it takes, is a constant presence in the lives of the Japanese, and with it the cultural knowledge of the ocean’s destructive power. (See a little more art like that at left here).

We witnessed that power on March 11 as an earthquake shook the land at Sendai, creating a tsunami that slammed into the eastern coastline. Remembering from the 2004 tsunami and the Haiti and Chile earthquakes as well as other natural disasters, we won’t know the full toll for days or weeks.

In Japan, wherever there are people, there are cats, beloved pets, and where pets are not allowed there are Cat Cafes where cats live to be visited by customers who drink tea and pet kitties. And tragically the earthquake’s epicenter was about 60 miles from Cat Island, a haven for the elderly and for many stray cats who are fed and cherished by all residents. To date we’ve heard that Cat Island had a good bit of damage and supplies are needed, but the island also has a good bit of high ground so hopefully people and cats could escape the tsunami.

My Tortie Girls Go to Japan

detail of "the goddess" face

Detail of "The Goddess"

detail of the roundest eyes block print

Detail of "The Roundest Eyes"

Through one of my wholesale customers, many of my Tortie Cats t-shirts have shipped off to customers in Japan. Considering their love of cats, this is not surprising.

Also considering the tradition of block printing, or relief printing with wood, in Japan, especially hand-colored prints, this seems like a natural combination. After all, where do you think I first saw this technique, and years later decided to render my girls’ portraits in this medium?

Donate to Animal Refuge Kansai for the Animals of Japan

I will donate half of the selling price to Animal Refuge Kansai from sales of my t-shirts and framed block prints sold in a set or individually. I have limited stock, in part because I always wait for warmer weather to print these shirts and prints:

Read below more about block printing and about these prints, and visit my Etsy shop to purchase. Also visit The Conscious Cat to find other opportunities to donate and help all animals in Japan after this devastating disaster.

Inspired by my felines

I am unendingly inspired by my houseful of felines, especially those two tortoiseshell calicos. I print these by hand from a hand-cut linoleum block, then each individually is hand-painted in watercolor.

“The Goddess”
Well, everyone knows a fat cat who knows she’s beautiful, and Cookie would tell you that a woman with a round shape was once most desirable and an object of worship. That’s why I call her “The Goddess”.

“The Roundest Eyes”
Sometimes when I look at Kelly the only feature I can distinguish in all those tortie markings is her extremely round eyes.

framed block print of tortoiseshell cat

The Goddess

framed block print of tortoiseshell cat

The Roundest Eyes

Each image is 8″ x 12″, with mat and frame outside dimensions 14″ x 18″, horizontal or vertical as shown in the photo.

Find the girls in my Etsy shop under “Prints”.

I have also printed the girls on white t-shirts. You can also find these in my Etsy shop under T-shirts or in the Marketplace on my website under Apparel>Block Printed Tees.

About Block Printing

I really enjoy working in this medium and I can free myself from the traditional media and a greater realism in rendering. Linoleum block printing is a technique wherein the artist carves the surface of a piece of artist’s linoleum, leaving raised areas which will become the image. Ink is rolled onto these raised areas, then a piece of paper is pressed against the block and when it’s lifted away the ink remains, leaving the image on the paper.

The resulting work isn’t a one-time thing, but meant to be printed multiple times–and I do, on just about anything I can think of. They all start out on paper, but they’ve been printed on t-shirts and dresses and aprons and curtains, to name a few things. I will sometimes add color to them with watercolor or dyes to give them extra interest. The resulting work, even though they are all printed from the same block, is a unique print, still handmade by the artist.

Because of the nature of the medium, each print is unique and ink coverage is not always perfect. Most artists consider this random activity to be part of the process of creating an individualized print, and along with the hand-painting makes a unique work of art.


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