I guess you could say it all began with cat whiskers. Kitties shed their whiskers naturally, and every once in awhile, I'll find one of Sonny Bunny's big long white whiskers on the floor. I've started a little collection over the years, and I jokingly refer to them as Sonny Bunny's little "gifts" he leaves for me, since he's now an indoor-only cat and can no longer bring me gifts of squirrels and finches. (He's yet to bring home an eagle, despite his size.)
I digress. This past summer when my dear sweet Momma was visiting, she noticed a small vase of whiskers. Of course she thought I was weird when I told her what they were. But then the tables turned and I thought she was the incredibly weird one when she asked me to give her a few. I must have had a funny look on my face as I handed them over because she said, "Don't ask why I want them. I have a reason."
Flash forward to Christmas 2014. I'm in Alabama, sitting on my Momma's couch as we're opening presents. She gave me a dainty little box with strict instructions to "open it carefully." I didn't know what to expect. And I certainly had forgotten all about those cat whiskers!
It turns out that Mom commissioned a small company in California, Backstitch Chicks, to make a replica of Sonny Bunny. Artist Sharon Constant created a perfect replica of my bobtail tuxedo cat, and her attention to detail blew my mind. Not only did she add his real whiskers, but she positioned Sonny Bunny on an exact replica of my outlandish vintage carpet. The fact that she included his round blue scratching pad, catnip mouse, and peacock feather (his fave toy) were all special details that made this present one of the best gifts ever.
Another keepsake from the package was this personalized note:
"Your Sonny Bunny soft sculpture was created in collaboration with your Mom. She supplied photos, anecdotes, descriptions, and some of Sonny Bunny's actual whiskers. Sonny Bunny is needle felted - a technique of manipulating wool, silk, and alpaca roving into 3D objects. Different colors and textures of roving are stabbed thousands of times to create separate shapes. The more shapes are "needled," the denser they become. As the shapes are worked up, they are needled together and fine-tuned into a completed portrait of your beloved pet."
I'm a big believer that the best gifts come from the heart. They don't have to be spendy or lavish. Sometimes, it's truly the thought that counts. And gifts with such thought and care behind them become keepsakes that warm the heart and make a lasting impression. As for this gift, I will cherish it for a lifetime. Thanks, Mom.
To order your own pet protrait needleart, contact BackstitchChick [at] gmail [dot] com.