I made my first ever "quilled cat" when I was a new quiller and trying out different techniques. It was simply done with just teardrop shapes of various sizes. I used a lot of reference photos and incorporated design elements from each, then put a few of my own touches on them. They went relatively ignored for two years and then my grandmother asked me to make a cat portrait for one of her friend's for Christmas last year (2016).
I had the photo of the cat for months before I began work on it. I struggled with balancing my innate desire for detail with a cost effective strategy. At first I was going to comb the cat to make it ultra-realistic, but by the time Fall rolled around I was exhausted and decided to try out an experimental "scrollwork" technique that would be more of an impression of the colors of the cat than a detailed rendition.
Well... let's just say that cat went viral. As did the the next few I made. I don't have any other pins on Pinterest that have accumulated such an enormous amount of repins. The seal point siamese has nearly 23,000 repins. The orange tabby is around 10,300 and the gray cat with yarn is nearing 5,000. I could never have planned out a better marketing strategy if I tried.
So here we are a few months later and the orders are still coming in. I have done so many that when I received an order for yet another last week, I was almost tempted to refund it and cancel. It's not that I don't like the cats - I do. But I am growing weary of the repetition.
The process is always the same. They order a cat. Then they send over some pictures. And I was just floored by the beauty of this cat when I first saw him. His electric green eyes. The brilliant contrast between the black and white, framing his face so perfectly. And the little black lop-sided chin marking. Oh, swoon!
I knew at this point that I just did not want to make another scrollwork cat and I messaged the woman and asked permission to do a portrait instead. The portraits take far, far longer but I didn't care about the time (money), I just wanted something different to to. And this is what I came up with.