Published by: Ingrid King. Last Updated on: October 31, 2022 by Crystal Uys
I recently introduced you to Chery, the amazing woman who rescued nine cats who were living in a church parking lot with a homeless woman. You’ve learned about Chery’s huge heart, her compassion, and the love she has for her nine foster cats. Chery also has four cats of her own.
Today, I’d like to show you a different side of Chery. Chery is also an accomplished artist and crafter who makes adorable felted wool bags and ceramic signs featuring whimsical and inspirational messages.
Felted wool bags and ceramic signs: that’s an interesting combination. How did you get started making both?
I’ve been working in clay off and on for over 40 years. When my mom passed away, she left me her kiln. I thought for sure this 40-year-old kiln couldn’t possibly work. Imagine my surprise when I plugged it in and it fired right up! I took this as a sign (no pun intended,) so I got to work!
I got the idea to make signs about 10 years ago. At first I just gave them as gifts, Then I sold them at my church bookstore and craft fairs. Then I opened an Etsy shop. I love that my signs are inspirational or say something to make you smile.
As for my “Woolybutton Bags,” they are relatively new to my creative expression. I started making them about five years ago. I loved the idea of working with wool, and when I came up with the idea to add the buttons, I was hooked.
What is the creative process like for you?
The process all begins with heading out to the guest house where the foster cats live. The house was originally my studio. The great thing is they don’t mind sharing the space! I begin by rolling out the clay and cutting out the signs. Once they are dried and cleaned, it’s off to the kiln for the first firing. Next is design and painting, probably my favorite part – and this seems to be when the cats really want to help, so I strategically work around their nap time when I can. When I’m finished painting the signs, they are fired again. Once out of the kiln, they get a coat of glaze and go back in for the third and last firing.
Next, it’s time to create the wire and bead hangers for the signs. This is another favorite part for me – I just love spreading out all those beautiful beads and deciding how the design should flow. And I do this part when the cats are on the catio… Finally, I attach the wire to the sign, put my sticker on the back and ta da! Finished..
The Woolybutton Bags are not quite so labor-intensive. Because I do most of the work in my lap, I can take them anywhere. I love the process of starting out with that soft wool bag in my hands and watching a comical button eyed cat face appear. It makes me smile every time.
Where does your inspiration come from?
I would have to say most of my inspiration comes from my wonderful husband Paul and the amazing cats we share our life with. We find joy in the simple things, we don’t do stress, and our home is always filled with laughter.
Tell us about your own cats.
Gracie came into our lives about 15 years ago. A good friend of mine found her in her parking structure with a litter of kittens. One of the tenants had called animal control and she was concerned about what would happen to the kitties. She called me, we trapped mom and babies,and they moved into my guest house (yes,the 9 foster cats were not the first.) We found homes for all the cute kittens,but Gracie was left behind. Gracie was so sweet and such a smart girl. We fell in love with her, so she got her collar and tags and moved into our home and hearts.
Kookie (we also call her Marmorkuchen) lived down the street from us, and often visited me when I was gardening in the front yard. I always told her “you’re so beautiful, but you don’t live here.” Clearly, she knew something I didn’t. After a few weeks her people moved away and left her behind. Their loss, our blessing. That was 16 years ago. Kookie is is a wonderful little calico, and we couldn’t love her more.
Shelby Sue came to us when we were at a friend’s house for a party on a cold night in late October. Paul walked out to the car, and this tiny little kitten came running up to him. He scooped her up in one hand. This was the first time we had a kitten in our life in years. We got her to the vet for a check up. At 6 ounces, she was so small I carried her in my pocket to keep her warm. At first we had to keep her separate from my other cats, so she, too, was a resident of our guesthouse/studio. That was 5 years ago. Shelby has grown into stunning, huge, incredible cat. I know I shouldn’t have favorites, but Shelby is pretty close to my heart.
Riley walked up to me one day when I was out in the garden watering. I held out my hand and this scrawny little black kitten jumped into my arms. One of the neighbors had told me there were feral cats in the alley. This was no feral cat! It didn’t take long for Paul and I to fall in love with this little black stranger. That was 1 1/2 years ago. Riley is a funny, goofy, crazy and lovable cat who has been a great joy. He is now a giant beautiful black fluffy treat munching monster of a cat. Riley is our first black cat – what did we ever do without one!
You can find Chery’s creations in her Etsy shop. A portion of all proceeds goes to help rescue cats.
Special Discount for Conscious Cat Readers
Chery is offering a special 10% discount for Conscious Cat readers – enter code CONSCIOUSCAT10 at checkout.
For more about Chery’s nine foster cats, please visit NineCatsinNeed.com.
Ingrid King is an award-winning author, former veterinary hospital manager, and veterinary journalist who is passionate about cats.