You know what's at the absolute top of my Christmas list this year? A necklace made out of greasy cat fur balls, rolled up into pretty, little orbs and encased in wire. I was stuck as to where you'd come across something like that – an organic crafts shop in Windsor? The bins of a building that houses both a cattery and chicken fence manufacturer? But – thankfully for me and the hundreds of people queuing up to buy me stuff – San Franciscan artist, jeweller and cat poet Flora Davis sells the exact thing I had in mind on her Etsy shop.
Flora's creations sell for between £25 and £150 to mostly artists, people like me and – presumably – socially-deprived cat ladies. I called her up to find out about her business and how Gaia the cat (her model, muse and source of fur balls) feels about it.
VICE: Hi Flora. How many cats do you have?
Flora Davis: I did have three, but one recently died, so now I only have two. I have Ragamuffins, which are very much like dogs; they follow you around the house and they want to be petted. Gaia, my first ragamuffin and the model for all my jewellery, gives me goodnight kisses and snuggles.
Do you use both cats’ fur to make your jewellery?
Their fur is very unusual. Both my cats have good hair, but Gaia’s is finer than Luna’s, his half sister. It feels softer and I have so much of his that I don’t need to use hers.
Do you think Luna gets jealous that you’re always using Gaia's fur? I think I would if I were her.
She’s not too jealous. I actually used her hair in a couple of pieces. I put it inside the orbs – I don’t like to call them fur balls – so I put her fur inside and masked it with his hair, because hers isn’t as soft. Another reason I don’t use her hair is because it’s not as light as Gaia’s. It’s a little grey. It looks dirtier. I mean it’s not, but it looks it is. Plus, his really pops out because it’s pure white. She lets him do his thing.
How does Gaia feel about wearing your creations?
He’ll wear them and then he’ll walk off, so I’ll pull him back until I get the picture right. Luna won’t let me put anything on her – she’s not that kind of cat.
Have you had any hate from animal rights groups or anything?
No, but it has been posted on regretsy.com. They go onto etsy.com, find weird things and post about them. They posted my cat hair jewellery and I got some snarky remarks. They say things like, "At least they could give it to their enemies that are allergic to cats." But even in the late 1800s – maybe into the 1900s – when people died, they'd take their hair and make jewellery from it. It was a way of acknowledging their love for them. There are also websites where you can send your cat hair to them and they’ll weave it into a bag for you.
That sounds nice. Do you think Gaia’s pissed off that you're making money off his fur?
It doesn’t make a difference to him, he just likes to be combed. I was on Animal Planet’s Must Love Cats and this guy asked, "What does Gaia get out of this?" I explained that we live on the third floor of an apartment and he loves to go out into the hall where there are different smells. He gets excited. So I give him extra hall privileges – supervised, of course.
Follow Chloe on Twitter: @chloecrossx
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