Aby-a-Day – 23 Juli: Louis Wain (Cartoon Tuesday)

In London, we spent a good bit of time looking for treasures in second-hand shops. I was on the hunt for anything regarding the early Abyssinians, and I figured England might be the place to find it. Unfortunately, I was unable to find any Victorian-era cat breeding books, but I did find a print by the pre-eminent cat artist Louis Wain. There were a couple of different ones, actually, but I thought the limerick was charming:

A girl, who was dreadfully flustered,
Helped Ma-in-law to a spoonful of mustard!
Her Ma-in-Law stared,
Asked how she dared!
But she told her she thought it was custard.

The print was marked as being from 1910.

When I got it home and framed it, however, I discovered it wasn’t just a print…it was a page from a book! And the other side was also very cute…but there’s a mark on it that I Photoshopped out when I scanned it, so I kept the limerick side out. Louis Wain is known for more than just his drawing…he also had some sort of mental issues (possibly dementia or schizophrenia; mental illness wasn’t as sophisticated 100 years ago), and, even though he was put in an asylum, he kept drawing cats that became more and more psychedelic as his illness progressed. In the filigree decoration on the back of page seems to presage his future drawings.

He was an incredibly prolific cat artist, and his work was published in books and as postcards. I found this very Aby-looking fellow online as a part of series of postcards celebrating “taking the waters” at Harrogate, one of the first ever “spas” where people went every summer for sulphur treatments. The treatments involved both drinking and soaking in the water, and Wain did four series of six cards each as souvenir/advertising. After finding the Abyssinian “sulphurer,” I became fascinated by these little glimpses into history…probably because, as a kid my dad tricked me into drinking sulphur water from the Lithia water fountain in Ashland, Oregon. I know what it tastes like!

In researching Louis Wain’s work (I was unable to find my images online anywhere, believe it or not, so I don’t know what book my page came from), I also came across this happy little guy. I know know much about him…but doesn’t he look like Izaak!? It actually kind of reminds me of that sketch of Zak I did back in March.

Aby-a-Day – 4 Juni: “Forget about style; worry about results” (Cartoon Tuesday)

Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals was yesterday, and the series is split 2-2, with Boston and St. Louis winning a game each home and away. Last week, I posted a drawing of Jacoby as the iconic “flying Bobby Orr”. This week, it’s finished!

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But apart from sharing the final drawing, I thought I would also share the layers that create it. This is the “Uniform” layer, which I coloured using the incredibly useful NHL Uniform Database to make certain I got the colours and stripes right.

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This is Jake’s colouring. It’s actually three different layers merged together to get the depth of colour in his fur. The whiskers and eyeshine are on a separate layer.

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This is the finished Jake and his shadow. Then, for the background, I ran the original photo of Bobby Orr through the “cutout” filter.

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I am particularly proud of the way his head turned out. Aby markings are deceptively complex to render realistically.

Hopefully this will give Boston a little luck in the next two or three games…GO BRUINS!

Aby-a-Day – 28 May: Reliving history (Cartoon Tuesday)

The 2019 Stanley Cup Finals started yesterday, and they are quite exciting. The Boston Bruins are in them, of course, and if they win they will be the THIRD Boston team to win a championship in a year…and they’re already up one game. They face the St. Louis Blues, who haven’t been in the finals for 49 years. And even more interesting, in 1970, the team the Blues faced was…the Bruins!

Ray Lussier took a now-iconic photograph of Bobby Orr celebrating scoring the winning goal against the Blues in 1970. This image is such a part of Boston’s culture that there is a statue commemorating that moment in front of the Garden, and it has been reproduced on T-shirts for 49 years.

My ex found me an unofficial playoff shirt (the kind that can only be found in Boston) with the Bruins Bear recreating Orr’s flight (modeled by Tessie), and it kind of inspired me.

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Using a photo of the moment, I did a sketch of Jacoby as Bobby Orr.

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I did a first ink, but I didn’t like the pen I used; it was too thick and clunky. So, using that ink as a reference, I made a second inking.

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That inking turned out so much better! I’ll colour it in and finish it for next week…the day after Game 4.

Aby-a-Day – 1 October: Happy Singapura Day!

On this day in 2014, the Singapura was officially accepted as a breed in FIFe.

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While the Singapura was accepted for registration by the TICA in 1979 for championship competition and accepted in CFA in 1982 as a provisional breed and was granted championship status in 1988, Singas took longer to be accepted in Europe.

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The GCCF (the British cat registry organisation) finally granted Singapuras championship status in June 2005.

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And then, at long last, the Singapuras were accepted by FIFe, Europe’s purebred cat registry.

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Because I have known about Singas – and seen them at CFA shows – since I was in high school (at least 35 years), it’s a bit odd to me that they are a “new” breed here in Europe. In Sweden, Singapuras were registered in Sverak (Sweden’s branch of FIFe) since the early 1980’s, but in all that time, only 355 Singapuras have been registered in Sweden. And, as of right now, Sverak’s newest Singapura is…our Izaak.

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Which makes our little Polish import a special little cat, indeed!

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“Well DUH…of COURSE I’m special! Just look at me!”

Abys are Everywhere – Player’s Cigarettes cat cards

My friend Marsha posted a photo of a reproduction cigarette card featuring an Abyssinian the other day on Facebook. I actually managed to find an image of it in the digital collection of the New York Public Library!

Cigarette cards were the precursor to collectible cards in bubble gum packets, and date back the 1890s, when cigarettes were wrapped in paper packets instead of boxes. Manufacturers began inserting pieces of card to protect the contents, quickly realising that these would be useful for advertising their products. Soon this evolved into sets of cards featuring various things of interest, in the hopes that smokers would want to “collect them all” and continue to buy that brand rather than another.

Usually, they were marketed to men, and so featured sports players, pretty actresses, trains and ships…but there were some animal-themed sets as well, including a 24-card set of different British breeds of cats printed in 1936 by Player’s Cigarettes.

The originals are not dated, but these were reproduced in both 1986 (with blue ink and the Imperial Tobacco Ltd. logo on the corners)…

…and in 1997 (this time with red ink). Therefore they are not hard at all to find, especially from UK sellers on eBay. I got this one for about 80kr (less than $10 USD) including shipping.

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 – 13 May 2016: Ancestral Abyssinians (Friday Flashback)

This week, The CFA History Project published an article about Sedgemere Peaty, one of the very first Abyssinians.

There is also an article with a fanstastic wealth of photographs about a silver Abyssinian born in 1909 named Quizero Taitou (Or Ouizero…there’s some confusion over whether his name started with an O or a Q; Q makes more sense, though).

What is interesting about Quizero, though is that his father, Aluminium, also sired Ras Dashan, who sired Ras Djibute, whose granddaughter, Woodrooffe Aura was the mother of the famous (Djer-Mer’s) Woodroofe Ras Seyum, from whom Jacoby, along with many modern Abyssinans, are descended.

Ras Seyum was famously featured in the November 1938 issue of National Geographic. How fun to see Jake’s ancestors’ photos!

(Oh and also, while looking for these historical photos, I stumbled upon this article about cat domestication and was flattered to find one of my photos used – and credited! – as an example of a show cat! It was just published on 27 April, so there’s another nice surprise.

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And just for fun, here is a series of photos of Jake doing something he rarely does: Pole dancing! While many cats love to scratch the sisal post on the judge’s table, Jake usually prefers to post majestically. However, in his first ring at Seacoast with Gary Veach, he decided to have a little stretch. Although he does seem a bit bewildered, doesn’t he?