Deck the Halls with Cat Balls

animals holidays

Elon Musk Launches Tesla Roadster into Space. Comic by Karen Strum

Why wouldn't the wild things in our life get psyched about the winter holidays? Every year we bring the outdoors in and decorate a tree with bright shiny objects they view as toys. The evergreen is eyed with admiration and then our beloved pets will mark, jump, eat, or climb it. Quite possibly, they'll even topple it. While most people spend their time finding ways to keep pets out of their Christmas decor, my creative mother Martha Strum found a way so that your pets have a place on the Christmas tree after all and she managed to put a few bucks in her pocket while doing it.

I remember a childhood Christmas when our pets and my brothers were such a threat, that mom put the tree in a toddler's play pen. At that point in our lives, my mother did not have a positive association between Christmas trees and pets (and/or children for that matter). However as the years progressed, and my brothers and our furry siblings began to calm with age, my artist mother became more open minded.

I think it was around fifth grade that my mother started making “cat balls”. They were glass ornaments with hand painted faces with ears affixed. My mother began selling her ornaments at my Aunt's Hallmark store and they were a huge hit. She was able to give the family cat a place in the tree without the fire alarm being set off.

There were a number of design hurdles that mom had to solve when making her ornaments. The ears weren't easy to attach and it required testing different glues to find the strongest and least messy formula. The eyes were another problem, drawing properly spaced open eyes on a round ball is very challenging. Mom uses a variety of paints, which are manufactured by several different manufacturers. This can cause problems as well because varnishes will not work with every brand of paint. My mother is constantly trying to find new ways to improve her system.

Maybe it is the new Florida vista, but with mom snow birding she has had a wave of inspiration this year for her ornaments. She added dogs to her product line and began decorating the balls with extra touches like beads and bows (the Yorkies are my favorite). With a new Florida home comes new local gift shops. This year she was accepted into the Dunedin Fine Arts Center Gallery Shop and is one of their leading ornament designers. As she has for many years, she continues to sell her ornaments at the Broad Ripple Animal Clinic.

Mom's pet ornaments make great gifts all year long, especially on Valentine's Day and Mother's Day. She paints most cat and dog breeds and will take custom orders based on photographs. Artists can put extra money in their pockets for the gift giving season by having a creative product such as this to market during the holidays. Whether you design your own ornaments or decide to let a pro do it, Martha Strum will convince you to let your cats put the tangle the tinsel... and you'll have a “ball” doing it!

Cat Ornaments (Cat Balls) by Martha Strum


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About the Author: Karen Strum is a Tampa Bay illustrator available for freelance projects. A unique cast of characters in her style can be designed for use in advertisements and materials for which you want something extra special. Karen's cartoons use retro imagery and vintage color palettes that add charm to every image she creates whether it is a comic, logo, diagram, book cover, or concept image. [Send an Email]


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