Concept Development: Ritual and Repetition, Proposal

We handed in our first project proposal today. The project is called Ritual and Repetition, and we are required to make one hundred items, producing approximately two per day. I’ll be making 100 cat toys, all the same, though different material, based on a design from Martha Stewart’s Encyclopedia of Sewing and Fabric Crafts. On her website, there is a pattern for a fish-shaped cat toy, but the design in the book is more simplistic. This is important because I will be making so many of them that I need to cut down on the production time.

I was inspired to make cat toys through Penny’s behaviours. Although she is a cat, and can be unpredictable at times, she has specific rituals that she carries out each day. A prominent one is how she acts when Matt or myself enters the apartment from the hallway. She runs directly to the area rug and flops down, waiting for a belly rub. She also plays certain games with us only at specific times of the day. At night she sleeps on my side first, then eventually makes her way down to her own bed nearby.

These rituals resonated with me while thinking of ideas for this project, which is primarily ritual based. Penny does these same things every day, and for the project, I will be making the same thing every day. I have decided to combine our ritualistic ways into something new that we can both enjoy. Every day, I will make two new cat toys for Penny. Since she may be alone for large portions of the day, Penny needs toys to play with and stimulate her. I will fill this need by creating fabric fish toys that are stuffed with catnip. Every day I will present her with these new toys as a ritual, and watch her play with them.

The toys will require the daily actions of cutting, sewing, stuffing, and stitching. The process will include pinning two pieces of fabric together, facing out, then cutting them in the shape of a fish with pinking shears. I will then sew along the edges, leaving only a small gap between the thread and the outer edge, leaving an open area at the tail, where I could fill the toy with dried catnip before stitching it closed. Afterwards, I will either embroider eyes for the fish, or affix a button.

I am interested in using a variety of materials for the fish, such as felt, corduroy, tweed, cotton twill, or whatever I think might be interesting to try. I will also explore different options for the eyes, such as the buttons or embroidery I mentioned above. Finally, I may experiment with varying shapes and sizes to see if they generate a different response from Penny.

When the project is completed, I’ll have one hundred cat toys, and Penny will have played with all of them during the course of their creation. I am fond of the idea of combining my ritual of creating them with her tendency to create her own rituals. Through giving her new toys every day, I am curious to see how she will respond, and if she will start to pick up on the ritual and come to expect new catnip toys every day.


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