Home sweet home

Ever since I saw this post over on the Young House Love blog, I knew what I was getting my mom and future mother-in-law for Christmas…

My mom has collected Cat’s Meow figurines for as long as I can remember. Part of the reason they are so special to our family is that our first cat was a black cat named Belle, and we always associated the signature black kitty printed on all Cat’s Meow homes and building with our Belley-Boopster (one of Belle’s many odd family nicknames). Now having spent time over at John’s parent’s house, I noticed that his mom is also a collector of Cat’s Meow. All the signs were pointing to a custom Cat’s Meow piece for their Christmas gifts.

But let’s talk numbers…A custom Cat’s Meow to replicate your personal home comes out to $69 apiece. This seemed like a LOT of money until I saw that you could get a multiple keepsake discount if you bought more than one. In this case, each one would cost $49. Not a huge difference but that extra $20 in savings sealed the deal in my mind.

After waiting until it was time to start thinking about actually ordering the pieces for the holidays, I got my pen and order form ready and started to read the fine print. The words “Multiple quantities must be of the same design” broke my heart a little…I wanted two different designs, so my idea was now out the window. I was about to scrap the whole plan when it suddenly occurred to me that I have a degree in art (and a father who is a professional wood craftsman) that should have been employed from the get-go.

I looked through dad’s wood scraps in his shop and found a piece of poplar (or pine – I always mix up the two) that would do just fine, then penciled on the shapes of the two homes for dad to cut around. A quick turn through his saw, and we were ready to paint. Here is the beginnings of the one for my mom:

With as steady a hand as I could manage, I was able to get the base coat on the majority of the piece. I just used some acrylic paint I had on hand, so the grand total of this project (including scrap wood from my dad’s shop) came in at $0 – Not bad when I had originally been planning on spending about $70!

The painting aspect of this project ended up being a little more involved then I had anticipated, but I think it was just because of all the detail work. I am not a painter by trade  (I draw graphite portraits) so all of those tiny windows and color changes were enough to put this very impatient girl in tears. But (trust me mom, if you are reading this) it was definitely worth it in the end.

This is a photo of John’s childhood home that we asked his dad to send us for reference during the painting process:

And here’s my version of the Cat’s Meow with its first coat:

The rest of the process was just a lot of layers and coats to get the paint nice and smooth so you couldn’t see the wood beneath. Did I mention this project required a lot of patience?? Again, it was so worth all of the effort in the end.

Here’s a detail of the little black kitty (my favorite part)!!

The details definitely aren’t crisp and the lines definitely aren’t straight, but based on the happy gasps and plentiful “Thank you!”s from the two main ladies in my life, I feel like this is one of those times when “it’s the thought that counts.” I am very happy that I decided to DIY these little keepsakes and I am so pleased that my mom and John’s mom loved them – That’s really all that matters.

What kind of gifts did you guys DIY this Christmas?

(Photo credit for Cat’s Meow “My World Keepsake” image: here)

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