Aby-a-Day – 13 July: Life imitates art (Fashion Friday Flashback)

An unsung hero of cat art history is Girard “Gig” Goodenow. I can’t even find a biography of him online, but a Google search of his name will give you plenty images of his art. I had a set of four of his “Pity Kitties” with huge, sad eyes in my bedroom when I was four years old. But a few years ago I found a print of one of the series of cat prints he did for Women’s Day…the Abyssinian, of course.

Well, I finally got around to finding a frame for it, and, after I unrolled it to look at it after years of it being packed away, both Björn and I were struck by how much it looked like a portrait of…Alfred. Eerily so, considering the print is 53 years old.

So we got Freddy to pose next to his two-dimensional doppleganger.

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Or, rather, I should say we tried to get him to pose. It didn’t start off well…

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This is one of the best photos of them together!

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At last Freddy took a good look at the portrait.

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“Wow! That really kinda does look like me!”

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“This is amazing..! It’s like looking in a mirror!”

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I think Freddy has a new-found appreciation for vintage cat art. I wonder if this Abyssinian was based on one of Freddy’s ancestors?

Aby-a-Day – 10 July: The Girl with the Aby and Singa Tattoo (Cartoon Tuesday)

You might recall a few weeks ago I was about to go in and get a magpie tattoo on my arm and plan my next tattoo with Linus, my new tattoo artist here in Slövde. Linus is amazing, and tomorrow I am going to get it coloured in. I can’t wait! Since the 21st, I’ve had a half-done, just black lines and shading. It’s going to be amazing to finally have it finished.

In the meantime, I have worked up two better-coloured versions of my original sketch. The one above was coloured in on my iPad Pro using pencil and an incredible app called Art Set which works well…except it hasn’t got layers. So I did more colouring using Photoshop…and the result is above.

Then I thought my rough-sketched maple leaves, pussy willows and cherry blossoms were kind of…lazy. So I found some Photoshop brushes and line art and created a better background. At least I have something to show Linus tomorrow during my appointment.

Aby-a-Day – 28 May: “Light” (Saturday Photo Hunt)

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

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Just this past Monday’s post was shots of Jacoby with my little round nightlight.

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These are the photos I thought turned out best from that set.

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Jake is such a great subject. Most of the photos I liked best involved the light reflecting off his eyes’ tapetum lucidum (which means “light tapestry”) and playing with the night light.

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Usually, photos with eyeshine in them need to be fixed.

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But mixed with Hipstamatic, they become the best of the bunch.

Aby-a-Day – 20 May: The iconic Lisa Larson cat (Fashion Friday)

I’ve posted before about the iconic Lisa Larson cats.

Lisa Larson started working at the legendary Gustavsbergs Pottery in 1953. Her mid-century modern design manifested in more ways than just cats, but for some reason it’s her felines that are all over the internet (probably because that’s what the internet is for – cats).

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As a wedding gift, Björn gave me this modern cat figure designed by Lisa Larson. He picked this one because, well, “it looks like an Aby.” Can’t argue with that!

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But my love of Lisa Larson cats goes way back to the first time I saw one in 2000. I had gone on my first trip to Europe, to Amsterdam with people from work, and while they went to a conference, I spent a few days in Holland before skipping off to meet my old penpal Björn and his girlfriend in Sweden.

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I flew in and out of Göteborg, and one of the first places he took me was an antiques shop, where I saw this big kitty! And he is big, too – look at him compared with my hand! He was designed in 1957 for the “Stora Zoo” collection, and at the time he was pretty expensive (I think I paid around $100 USD for him)…and it turns out that he was a pretty savvy purchase!

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In fact, in this photo of me with Björn (the first ever taken of the two of us together), you can see my Stora Katt in the bag I’m holding.

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On that same trip, I picked up three small cats from the “Lilla Zoo” collection, circa 1955. I found them at various thrift shops and flea markets that Björn took me to.

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One of them had an accident when he fell through a hole in the paper bag and crashed to the cement floor. He shattered to bits…but Björn insisted that we pick up all the pieces, and that night he sat down at the table with some glue and did what all the King’s horses and all the King’s men couldn’t do…he put my cat back together again!

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Can you believe he did that?

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I was amazed. I hadn’t actually been carrying him when he dropped (Björn’s girlfriend was), and I was sad that he had broken but there wasn’t much to be done…or so I thought. I was absolutely blown away that he was able to repair the cat so well.

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I think that was when I started my crush on him forreals…

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A year or two later, Björn sent me this tall Lilla Zoo cat because he looked like Patrick

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He has stripes down his back!

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One of my more odd Lisa Larson cats is this Necono Digital Camera! The camera’s website even explains: “Lisa Larson is a world’s famous Swedish ceramist. She lives in the nature with her husband who is also an artist, and continues to produce ceramics even in her 70s. Before Japan learned about the Scandinavian ‘kawaii,’ she had always been teaching us how charming Scandinavian designs were.”

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Similar to how the Japanese appropriated Finland’s Moomins, Japan has embraced Lisa Larson’s cats, especially the cartoonish version of the Stora Katt called “Mikey.”

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Mikey is the star of this camera and matching bag.

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It’s a fun little remote digital camera. Not really sure why a digital camera needed to be cat-shaped, but…

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…Oh, right. Because Japan.

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Another modern usage of Lisa Larson cats is in the form of the typically Scandinavian pedestrian reflector. Born of a combination of the combined Nordic passions for creative design, the love of the outdoors, and safety, the pedestrian reflector is a extremely common thing, seen dangling from the snowsuits of toddlers to the fancy handbags of their grandmothers.

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So of course there are Lisa Larson cat reflectors!

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Finally, I have this Japanese keychain/hanging charm…another gift from Björn, of course…I guess he and these cats will always be intertwined in my memory.

Aby-a-Day – 22 April: Something Old (Fashion Friday)

Björn and I got married on Monday, as I mentioned earlier.

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Much to our delight, a bunch of our friends came to wish us well, including Meg, Molly, Barb, Kelli and Donna. We were so amazed and grateful that they came to witness our marriage.

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And they all gave us lovely gifts, apart from their presence. Molly gave us this “something old” that she found in an antique shop. Isn’t it wonderful!? It’s clearly meant to be an Aby, which in itself is amazing, but the detail and the workmanship in this small stained glass is wonderful.

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He has wire whiskers, and three-dimentional, marble-like cat eyes that are just entrancing.

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We love it so much…thank you, Molly!

Aby-a-Day – 22 January: Cats and Magpies (Fashion Friday)

Björn’s mother is an artist; her home is filled with paintings she’s done as well as artwork done by others.

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In fact, she painted this portrait of Oskar the cat on the mailbox.

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It’s actually painted on a metal plate, which is changed according to the seasons.

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She has these two woodblock prints by Swedish artist Sven Ljundberg that I instantly fell in love with when I saw them. After yesterday’s post, you know why…

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They are marvelous.

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Björn’s mother doesn’t speak much English, and my Swedish is…progressing…but we bonded over a mutual love of art, cats and magpies.

She even gave me a copy of this postcard, featuring another version of his cat and magpie theme.

Besides Sven Ljungberg’s prints, paintings and sculptures, he also published a limited edition book with his Katt och Skata prints, of which only 990 copies were printed in 1976. His home village, Ljungby, has a museum dedicated to his art, and you can see a virtual tour of some of the pieces online.

Aby-a-Day – December 20: Lush Fun!

Today I met Björn’s two children, Emma (5) and Kalle (almost 13). Of all the things I thought I would be in life, a mom was never one of them…but now I’ll be a stepmom. That I can handle though – it’s like being a cool aunt, only fulltime.

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Actually, only Kalle lives with Björn. Emma lives with her mother in Stockholm, so we only will get to see her once in a while. Kalle loves cats, and he’s excited to live with two Abyssinians. We’ve all met on FaceTime, and I think Kalle and Angel, especially, will get along wonderfully.

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When we first met her with Kalle and their mother, Titti, it was at a coffeeshop in Stockholm’s Centralstation. Emma was busy with a packet of Lush Fun moldable clay.

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I’m sure Björn was a bit worried as to how I’d bond with Emma, since she only speaks a little English. Well, once I saw the soap clay…I knew what to do. I sat down and had Björn ask her if I could have a bit of her soap. She said yes, so I took off my coat and got to work.

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Because what better way to bond with your soon-to-be stepdaughter who loves kitties and pink things than by making her a pink Jacoby out of soap?

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Needless to say, it worked like a charm. Well, that, and the robot leopard I gave her for Christmas.