Aby-a-Day – 1 Juli: Sum-Sum-Summertime (Thursday Things)

So, you may recall that I took some lovely photos of Izaak and his tree in winter and spring. Well, the other day when we all went outside, I thought the tree was ready for the summer photo, so I put Zak in his tree.

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At first, he thought about jumping down.

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But then, Zak climbed even higher into the tree!

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And…used the branch as a scratching post.

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Juuuusssst before trying to eat the lichen on the tree. Cat won’t eat dry or wet cat food, but lichen he eats?

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Eventually, Zak decided to come back down, and the photo session was over.

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This one shot, though, is the one I think I’m going to use in the Four Seasons project.

Aby-a-Day – 29 Juni: Rory and the Last Dragon (Cartoon Tuesday)

We finally got to see Raya and the Last Dragon on Disney+, and I was absolutely mesmerised by the dragon Sisu, voiced by Awkwafina. She reminded me so much of Lorelai that I had to draw her as the dragon. Here is my first sketch.

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Followed up by the ink outline.

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I did colour layers both underneath and over the ink outline, and then covered up some of the black lines with matching colours.

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This is the finished Procreate drawing, sans background, before shifting to Photoshop.

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Add a background and some outer glow on some of the layers…and here is the finished piece.

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As always, here’s the video of the Procreate drawing process. Click on the image to watch the video in Flickr.

Aby-a-Day – 5 Mars: Game day sketches (Cartoon Tuesday)

Björn has been a roleplaying gamer since 1982, starting with Dungeons and Dragons. I also played D&D and Heroes in college. Björn has been working on a Call of Cthulu campaign he wants to run with some friends, and, whilst I have never been a fan of H.P. Lovecraft…it is set in Boston in 1920, so how could I resist?

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My character, Ivy Poole is a widowed photojournalist who lives on Peterborough Street near Fenway Park (she’s a big Red Sox fan; hey, they won the Series two years ago, how long can it take to win again?)

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During the game, I tried to sketch her so the other players would know what I look like. However, I got discouraged because A) she looked too much like me (at least how I looked 20 years ago when I was my character’s age) and B) I’m crap at drawing humans. So I resorted to sketching what I sketch best…cats. First I started with Lorelai, because she had come to see what we were doing with the dice.

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Then Izaak wanted to sit on everybody’s laps, so I switched to him. This one had funny eyes…

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…but this one…this one I really like. I think I may have to finish this one!

Aby-a-Day – August 31: Think different (Miniature Monday)

While searching the internet for parts to restore the iMac cat bed to mint condition (sans innards), I discovered the most wonderful thing: a miniature iMac!

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Well, of course I had to get one. Turns out, it was pretty easy to modify, too. The screen came right out with a minimum of hassle – much easier than the real one!

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It also just so happens to be the perfect size for the Elleo Jacoby ball jointed doll.

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I even made a little cushion for it…just like the big one!

Aby-a-Day – June 30: Persians and PKD (Cartoon Tuesday)

A bit more filler, I’m afraid, before you are returned to your regularly scheduled cartoons.

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This was an illustration I did for the most reason issue of CFA’s Cat Talk magazine for an article about Polycystic Kidney Disease in Persians. I know it isn’t Abyssinians…but sometimes it’s interesting to draw a different breed!

Aby-a-Day – April 25: “Fix” (Saturday Photo Hunt)

This week’s Photo Hunt subject is “Fix.”

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I’m still fixing up the iMac cat bed, but that doesn’t stop Angel from napping in it.

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It may have been overkill, but I took the keyboard apart to clean it and then glued it back together. Now, I know the keyboard doesn’t really affect the comfort of the bed, but it does make it look cool.

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I also found an I/O panel and a door to restore the iMac casing. I glued the panel in so there’s no longer a hole in the bottom of the bed. I haven’t gotten the door yet, but that will close the rest of the hole up and restore the iMac to it’s egglike shape. My goal is to have an empty iMac that, apart from being a cat bed and not a working computer, it as complete as possible.

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I know Angel doesn’t care if it’s a perfectly restored iMac or not.

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But she’s sleeping in it, so that makes it all worthwhile.

Aby-a-Day – April 16: I think, therefore iMac

When the iMac first came out, with its pretty colours and its friendly round shape, I really wanted one. But when I needed a new computer in 1998, my dad offered to sell me his old Macbook (which, while not as pretty or colourful, was a better computer, and it was a laptop rather than a desktop and therefore more portable), so I ended up never getting one.

However, with people on Etsy making and selling cat beds made from gutted iMac cases, I finally had my chance to finally get an iMac. The finished cat beds were a bit pricey, especially with shipping, though, but hey: I have an art degree! I can make one all by myself. I just needed to find a dead iMac to cannibalise first.

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I had been discussing iMac cat beds with my friend Barb (who lives with the lovely blue-cream torbie Aby Sky), and she happened to come across a 1998 Bondi Blue iMac G3 while at a thrift store. She snagged it for me and gave it to me last August at the NEMO cat show. Since then, it’s been sitting in a corner of the living room, waiting for me to get up the nerve to tackle dismantling it.

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Okay, so now that I have the iMac, where to start? I had found some instructions online that explained the process, but apparently they were for a different iMac G3 than mine. The instructions told me to start by unscrewing two screws at the top…but I only had one screw at the bottom. Okay, so I had the wrong instructions as a guide, but I could figure this out…

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I also pretty much ignored all the warnings about dissipating electricity from the CRT (I also didn’t have this link until just now). However, I knew that it hadn’t been plugged in for a very long time. Before Barb was able to get it to me, she’d had it about a year not plugged in, and the person she got it from also hadn’t turned it on for at least a year. Add the 8 months I’d had it, and it had been a non-electrified doorstop for almost three years. I figured it was pretty safe.

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So I got to work. Instructions or no, once you get going it’s pretty much intuition. Interestingly, however, the information I found when I Googled “iMac G3 Cat Bed” was much more helpful than than I’d found when searching for “iMac G3 How To Take Apart!”

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The pieces just naturally came apart in a specific order. The fact that the iMac is translucent helped the dismantling process a lot because you can actually see where the screws are. You just need to suss out how to get to them. This would have been a lot harder on an opaque machine.

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It’s pretty amazing what you can two with only two screwdrivers, determination, and brute strength. Putting it back together was much easier – basically just the opposite of taking it apart.

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On this particular model of iMac, the CD drive was a tray rather than just a slot, and it was attached to the metal guts rather than to the plastic casing (Evidently, this makes it a rarer model, since Apple only made iMacs with tray-loading CD drives from August 1998 to October 1999 – all the other iMacs had slot drives). Unless I wanted a hole in the front, I needed to figure out a way to stick the door back in. So I used silver-grey Sugru, a moldable glue that turns into rubber when cured. I basically filled in the space between the case and the door with Sugru. While I was at it, I also filled in the earphone and microphone jack holes with bits of Sugru too, just to make it look nice.

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Without the guts to weigh down the case, the round shape was unsteady, and the built in folding kickstand thing wasn’t enough to keep it from rolling around. What I needed was some little legs to hold it up. I thought about it for a few minutes and then went and dug out these pretty plastic corks with plastic tops I’d saved because, dammit, someday they’d come in handy!

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And look, someday they did! They make perfect legs for the iMac bed. I stuck them on with some black and white Sugru mixed together. I was hoping for a lighter grey…

(As a side note, that hole in the bottom side of the iMac is where all the USB and other ports were, and apparently, once upon a time, it had a little door to cover it. This seems to have been lost over the past 17 years, but I was able to find a replacement online, and I should have it tomorrow!)

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Unfortunately, even when cured, the Sugru wasn’t strong enough to hold the legs on when the iMac was right side up. You can see the left leg already starting to give way. I’d need to reinforce the legs to make them stronger. Okay…back to the drawing board.

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I cut away the Sugru holding the legs on, but left the base I’d built. Then I found two wood screws that would fit through the ventilation holes on the iMac.

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The screws I found were longer than my corks, so I found another plastic wine cork (without a decorative knob) that had been saved as a cat toy and cut two slices from it to lengthen the legs to fit my screws.

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I also couldn’t find any washers that would work. So I cut two circles out of thick black leather and made my own washers. Also, if you look in the back, there’s a knob of silver Sugru. The first screw had nothing to screw into once the guts were removed (it screwed into the metal), so I stuck it in at the top with some Sugru and then built a Sugru base for it on the inside. That should hold it.

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Once I had my cork-knob legs and the cork extenders screwed in, I covered them with blue and yellow Sugru mixed together to make green. This started as a way to fill the gap between the two corks and help to anchor the base to the iMac…but it evolved into a way of making the legs a solid colour and making them look more like they were meant to be a part of the iMac bed.

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While I was smoothing the Sugru, I got the idea to decorate the legs, so…

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…I dug out these little cat-face stamps from CatHands on Etsy that I bought ages ago for making silver clay bracelets. The faces were small enough that I was able to fit all four on each leg. Stamping the faces on also hides the bits I wasn’t able to get perfectly smooth.

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Here are the finished legs. They should hold even the heaviest kitty now! And they have cute little cat faces on them.

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For now, I just put a random cat bed into the iMac, but I’m going to make a custom-fitted cushion using this fabric which will be stuffed with old shredded T-shirts to make it washable. But it’s done enough for now, so I showed the finished bed to Angel first.

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She seemed a little trepidatious at first but quickly settled in.

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See Angel? It’s pretty comfy, right?

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Then I showed it to Jacoby. He wasted no time in stepping inside and making himself comfortable.

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Jake approves of the new bed!

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Please also note that I kept the original keyboard (which is attached to the iMac case by threading the cord through open holes in the back). Cats like sleeping on keyboards, so might as well keep it. I also need to find one of the original “hockey puck” iMac mice to complete the ensemble – this machine came with an Apple “Pro” Mouse which doesn’t match as nicely (plus, it still works)!

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I wonder who is going to “own” this cat bed?

Aby-a-Day – November 17: The Cat Scouts Cardwood Derby

The Cat Scouts is having their very first event – the Cardwood Derby! Each Cat Scout has to build their own Cardwood Derby race car. There were some rules, of course, such as at least 80% of the car must be constructed from a cardboard box, a video of the Cat Scout showing off your driving skills scores extra points, kits are not expressly prohibited, but since the entries will be judged on originality and craftsmanship, they will likely decrease the chances of winning, and the car need not roll, per se.

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So, since kits were allowed – and the car didn’t necessarily have to be a car, Angel entered the fighter plane.

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Like any good pilot, she examined her craft before takeoff.

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It’s important to make sure everything is in good working order while you’re still on the ground.

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Granted, Angel’s entry in the Cardwood Derby wasn’t made from scratch…but it is the only plane entered.

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Jacoby, of course, wanted his car built from scratch. He picked out the main box himself.

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And he also wanted it to really roll.

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But the only wheels I could find were kind of bulky. I couldn’t really do much to incorporate them into a sleek-looking race car.

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It’s actually more of a tank.

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But it’s Boston Strong!

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And Jake liked it, which is the most important thing.

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When it was all finished, we took it out to the hallway to let her go.

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I attached Jake’s leash to the front and we ran it up and down the long carpeted corridor.

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Jake’s car was a bit wobbly, but it worked.

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We even ran into a neighbour while we were racing.

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She was very impressed with Jake’s car…and his Scouts uniform.

Check out Jake’s car in action! I don’t know who will win – there are some truly awesome entries – but it was a lot of fun. Building a Cardwood car isn’t as easy as it looks!

Aby-a-Day – May 24: More plush Abys (Fashion Friday)

It’s been a while since I’ve posted photos of my Jacoby plushie project, so here’s a little update.

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This little guy is my very first attempt at sewing real mohair, like the classic Steiff animals are made from. I love this little kitty, even if he isn’t really a great Aby colour. I gave him to my mom for her birthday – which is today – since she gave me my first Steiff kitty over 40~mumble~years ago…

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See? Here she is with me and my mom circa 1969. (I was a tomboy. I did not like pink, I did not like dresses, and I definitely did not like pink dresses. Can you tell I’m beseeching my dad to take the photo already so I could change and we could go do some science?)

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Bernd Langer from Semerchets Abessinier saw my plushies on the Facebook Abyssinian Cat Club and wanted one. This not so mini green-eyed mini-me now lives in Germany!

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And then there’s this little guy, who now lives with a friend of mine in China. Doesn’t he seem right at home?

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Jake has fans in China, too!

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This is my most recent Aby plushie.

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He’s the same pattern as the first one, but a different type of mohair.

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It’s longer and softer. And, of course, it’s been discontinued, so when it’s gone that’s pretty much it.

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His eyes are kind of small. I didn’t have yellow eyes in the right size. But they do glow in the dark!

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I made his hands and feet a little differently. Instead of making the whole pawpad leather (as I’ve done with my other teddy-type cats), I used black mohair and sewed leather pads on. I also made them one-piece because the individual toe pads were just too tiny.

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His tail is also made with a black mohair tip, rather than being coloured with a black Copic marker.

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It also has a flexible plastic jointed tailbone, so it can swish!

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I think Jake approves of his mini-me.

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Don’t worry, Jake. You’ll never be replaced!

Aby-a-Day – May 2: More Jacoby plushies

I recently finished some more Jake plushies. jolteonjakeplushieC08335

This isn’t really my “dream Jacoby doll” plushie, but it’s a super cute, kind of cartoony Aby that’s really nice to cuddle.

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Here’s a close-up of a back foot. I used real leather for the paw pads on all four paws.

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The markings were done with a white Sharpie paint pen and Copic markers in black and dark brown.

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This Jake plushie is a completely DeviantArt project, inspired by Clarobell’s take on Renegar-Kitsune’s Jolteon pattern (a Jolteon is a Pokemon animal), and the ears were made using Sakutarugirly’s awesome cat ear pattern.

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A 360° view of the “Jolteon Jake.”

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Jake seems to really like his not-so-mini-me.

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They’re actually almost the same size!

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I wonder what they’re plotting…and should I be concerned?

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I’ve actually made a few plush Abys for friends…this green-eyed version of the Jolteon Jake went to Abyfriend Bernd in Germany!

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This green-eyed Fella was made for Abyfriend Paula to match her boy Bowzer. I used the pattern by IsisMasshiro on DeviantArt.

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Bowzer’s mini-me is Jake-approved!

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I love the pawpads on this pattern so much. They’re a LOT of work, but they are so cute when they’re done.

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I used the same body pattern to make these twins for Abyfriend Amy. The head is from a commercial pattern.

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They are made of Minky with marking done with Copic pens.

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Jake is NOT amused with them being in his bed.

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Then I got my hands on the good stuff: Real German MOHAIR, just like the classic Steiff kitty I grew up with was made from.

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I was a little afraid to use such marvelous material…but it sews like an absolute dream. I used a modified commercial pattern and I want to have a second go at it because I’ve already made some more changes I want to try out. I love this little guy; he has a real classic feel to him.

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This is the head pattern I used for the twins above. You can see how a pattern can vary depending on material! He is jointed, his pawpads are leather, and he has glow-in-the-dark eyes!

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Better get back to sewing…Angel’s posse needs more members!

Aby-a-Day – March 14: And I shall call her “Mini-Me”!

When I was younger, I used to make stuffed animals all the time. Some of them were simple, made of felt or scrap fabrics, but as I got older, they became more elaborate. Back in 2010, I made a small plush Angel using a pattern by Runo Dollmaker:

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It turned out pretty well, but since I finished it, I’ve wanted to make a bigger, more detailed version. I also wanted to experiment with adding markings to the finished kitty.

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This is the head, without ears, but with whiskers and the light and dark lines around her eyes on on her forehead.

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I can’t tell if Angel approves of her likeness or not.

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Maybe she just doesn’t like the fact it hasn’t any ears yet. She did try to touch noses with it, though.

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I’m really pleased with how the tail turned out. I used a rust-coloured Copic marker to add the “Aby line” and the dark tip.

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Angel approves of her tail doppelganger!

Somehow, enlarging the pattern seems to have thrown the proportions off; the neck seems really long to me for some reason. It seems I’m not the only person to have encountered this when enlarging this pattern to make an Abyssinian, though!

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I really like the way the shading on the back came out!

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Here is the finished “new Angel” alongside the one I made using the original, unmodified pattern. I also tried to make the head shape more “Aby-like.”

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Angel and her Mini-Me. As you can see, it’s nearly life-sized.

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Angel really likes its face!

I’m still working on the perfect plush Abyssinian, though. But take a look at this incredible plush Aby made by KJ Lyons! Such incredible detail! It sold for $550 on eBay…I’m still trying to decide if it’s a good thing or a bad thing that I didn’t see this when it was listed! Certainly something to aspire to…I hope someday I can fashion a plush Aby that’s this realistic.