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Lauras Cat – Can the Catman do?

Jeremy Smith of Catmando Miniatures tells us more about his articulated cat.

We always expect something complex & unusual from Jeremy’s entry in the Perfection in Miniature Awards, but this year he supposed himself. We had to know more about this tactile creature he had created & who was Laura? This is Jeremy’s story about the creation of his entry this year.

“Laura’s Cat is named after Laura Matthews, an award-winning artist whose mechanical animal sculpture kits have fascinated me for a long time. When she produced a cat last year, I was lucky to receive one as a gift, and once I’d built it, I wondered if it would be possible to produce something similar in miniature. After all, I’ve been calling myself Catman for all this time, and I had yet to produce a single cat! So I contacted Laura and she gave her blessing to base my miniature cat on her piece.

I have to admit, I wondered what I had taken on – Laura’s original design is complex and a bit fiddly to make, and I wasn’t at all sure whether I would be able to make a tiny one work properly but it’s always worth trying these things, so I started by producing a tail to see if I could make its joints move as they should. That worked out okay, so the job was on. The first thing was to look at reducing the size of Laura’s plans, which proved to be tricky for a person with limited IT skills (I just make little things out of wood, after all). Finally, with a little help from a neighbour, I made a tiny pattern to make a tiny cat. (Note to self: upgrade the printer before trying anything like this again).

I stuck the plans to 0.5mm boxwood before drilling the holes for the rivets, which I made from copper wire, then, part by part, hand-cut all 94 pieces ranging in size from 6.6mm to 0.7mm. The head came first and the moving jaw seemed to work, which gave me the confidence to carry on with the neck, body, back legs, tail, and finally the front legs, testing and attaching them as I went. To finish, I carved the paws to create the toes, and fixed them on.

Having specialised for so long in artists’ equipment and focusing in particular on various mannequins, it was a refreshing change to be working on a sculptural piece that’s a piece of art in itself rather than a tool for making art. The experience of making the previous pieces definitely helped me develop the practical skills to create what is my smallest and most complex animal representation to date.”

the two mini Laura’s Cats with their inspiration

For the moment, there are only two of these cats in existence – the one entered in the PIMA and the other a gift for Laura Matthews herself but Laura’s Cat will be available from my website soon as a made-to-order limited-edition piece.