Mousebreath is excited to introduce a guest columnist today who creates whimsical cat sculptures from buttons. Yes, buttons! These mini art works are rich in purrsonality, and lots of fun to explore in detail. Their creator, Angela Burneka of Maineville, Ohio, tells Mousebreath the story behind the birth of the button cats and her successful Etsy shop, the Button Cattery:
I remember hearing about a survey last year that said America contained more dog than cat people. I am not sure why this came to me as such a surprise; I suppose over time my “hopeless catmantic” mind-set has convinced me that everyone is cat person.
Here is my theory: Everyone is a cat person, many are just in denial. I believe many of what I call “closet cat people” are trapped inside tiny apartments with large dogs. They may have fallen into the grips of dog peer-pressure and feel bad about coming clean as a cat person. The possibilities are endless.
Several people have said to me, “Do you make dogs?” I always reply with, “No, I have to stay true to the cat people.” It is not that I dislike dogs, it is simply the fact I enjoy cats more.
Here is my story: My craft started out as a project for my college Art 102 class. On the first day my instructor said, “Each of you will be expected to make and present a sculpture to the class. It can be anything, so please be creative.”
Fifty thoughts immediately raced through my head, “What if I’m not arty? What if I can’t think of anything?” What if, what if, what if and can’t, can’t, can’t.
I pushed those negative thoughts aside for a moment looked conspicuously at my button collection of two years. I dug through my large, pink plastic craft tub to find my hot glue gun. (It had been a while since I made any crafts.)And I sat down at my small kitchen table and thought, “What do I like? I like cats! I wonder if I could make a cat?” After several design fiascoes and button misplacements, I figured out how to create a working cat design out of buttons.
On presentation day, I placed my button cat in a small, hard plastic box and took it to class. Everyone loved it. My instructor told me it was one of most creative things he had ever seen in his Art 102 class. He kept telling me, “You should sell these. You should make a collection of these in different poses or colors and sell them.”
Sell, sell, sell. I thought it was hosh-posh so I brought my button cat home and placed it on my desk. Shortly after, I began to play around with several designs in my spare time. I always came back to my original standing, four legged design because not only did it work, but it was also aesthetically pleasing. I now needed a collection and shop name.
A co-worker and I started rattling off ideas and suggestions until we word-stumbled upon The Puss ‘n Buttons Collection. My shop name, The Button Cattery, followed suit. I wanted something that was themed to cats, creative, yet remained realistic. I soon created an Etsy shop and within a few days I sold my first order to a wonderful customer in Europe.
I began making button cats for friends and family, increasing sales by word of mouth. I have since contacted and been contacted by local antique shops to sell my items. I have also expanded my items by making rings, pins, snow globes, and kittens.
In 2013, I hope to implement certificates of authenticity and adjust my pricing to include everyone regardless of financial background. In addition to that, I want make sure that what I do is not only for passion but also for purpose. For each item I sell, I donate ten percent of the profit to the ASPCA. I ask all my customers to offer suggestions for any charities and/or organizations they know of specifically cat-friendly.
Why do I make crafts for cat people? It is more than the fact I am cat fanatic myself. I like cat people because they are not breed specific. Cat people love cats. Period. Most importantly, my craft journey has introduced me to a new world of individuals who all started from the bottom up, just like me. They are consistently there with words of encouragement and advice when I get discouraged. I can only hope my story inspires others to achieve their craft-making dreams and realize that no matter how silly or unrealistic their craft may seem, as long as they love it others will, too.
Please visit The Button Cattery on Etsy!