Guest post by MeLinda Hughes of Merlin’s Hope Ragdoll Rescue
“Every cat is a work of art.” Leonardo DaVinci
About eight years ago, I moved into my new house. About two years ago, I finally decided to put some artwork on the walls. Yes, I am a procrastinator. I also have a weird and varied taste, but the one thing I did discover was I wanted pictures of my cats on my walls. My cats are my world, and I wanted a way to immortalize them forever. So, where to start? Well, fortunately for me, one of my friends is an amateur artist, particularly excelling at doing animal portraits. She created my first picture of my much loved Aslan. That started an explosion of ideas. Christmas and my birthday quickly led to requests for paintings of my Merlin, Lyonesse, and Taliesin. A number of talented pet painters exist, and costs run from under $100 to the hundreds of dollars. I talked to a professional artist at one point, as I wanted a “fantasy type” painting with all my cats; the quoted price was $800, which was definitely too steep for my budget. I found the next best thing: picture frames.
I like metal and wood frames, and I found several nice ones for collages that didn’t look like your general picture frames. One of my favorites, the larger one pictured, is made of metal and I purchased it a couple of years ago at Kirklands for about $50. The smaller one, also purchased at Kirklands, was about $35. You can find similar collage frames at Michaels, Hobby Lobby, Kirklands, Kohls, and practically any home décor store. Prices range from $20 to the hundreds. Be sure you use good pictures. I had trouble in both of these with the small size allotted for each picture. I had to focus on head shots and actually spent some time on several of the photos finding the right angle and the right size to fit in the frame. You can go with staged shots (most of mine are not) or natural shots. The choice is yours. There are also many professional photographers who do just pet pictures. I met a wonderful pet photographer at a CFA cat show this summer, and she took some lovely shots of the rescue cats we had there for adoption. I also have a digital frame with about 250 pictures of my cats (yes, yes, I am a cat-a-holic) and a couple of my sister and me (for some reason, she wants to know why there are no pictures of her on the wall). Again, these frames can be quite expensive depending on size and memory. Mine, again, was a gift, but I have seen some very reasonably priced ones for under $50.
Then, last year for Christmas, I received a gift certificate for a picture to canvas, which opened a whole new world of cat pictures. My first picture was from www.printcopia.com (as it was a gift, I don’t know the exact price, but on the website, similar sized canvases were about $70). I found a deal for the next one on www.groupon.com and one from www.livingsocial.com. I recommend you check these sources frequently for deals on canvas prints as they can be quite expensive. The second print I had made was a 16X20 picture from www.mypix2canvas.com. It would have cost me approximately $100 with shipping. With my groupon deal and including shipping, it was only $39, and I am quite pleased with it. I do want to caution you that you need high quality, high resolution pictures for canvas prints. One of the companies I tried required such high resolution pictures (so that the picture is not pixilated in the canvas print) that I had to forgo purchasing it. My poor little digital camera is just not cut out for that high of a resolution, the higher the resolution, though, the better the quality of the picture. You can have these pictures come with hanging attachments, a coating to protect the picture, and other features that can raise the picture’s price, including the company actually “fixing” problems with your picture (red eye, lighting, bad backgrounds). You also have choices on the width of the canvas frame (I like the thicker width) and the sides (you can have the picture wrapped around or choose a coordinating color). Again, your choices determine price.
A friend also introduced me to Wal-Mart’s photo center. While I have not used their services (yet) for wall pictures, I have created mouse pads, calendars, and even mugs with pictures of my cats. Prices for most of these items are actually very reasonable, and though I used Wal-Mart, most places with a photo center, like Walgreens and CVS Pharmacy, have similar items: cups, mugs, lockets, throws, t-shirts and a large number of other items. Another great source is www.zazzle.com, but I found it to be a bit more expensive. I find these “personalized” items make wonderful gifts, though for some reason, most of my family does not appreciate receiving pictures of my cats.
Well, as you might have noticed, I have left out one very important way of immortalizing your cats: scrapbooking. I admit it, for all I love my cats, I am not a scrapbooker. I tried; I even bought a cute cat-themed scrapbook, and it is still in the wrapper it came in, so I will not be able to discuss the joys of scrapbooking for your cats with you. However, I do use a digital scrapbook program. You can buy a year subscription for $39.95, which allows you to make slideshows, collages, and cards with your pictures. I have not done so, but you can actually order these items and have them printed. That is the next step in my quest for the perfect cat picture.
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So, when you go for immortalizing your cats, remember that you have a variety of ways to do so. Whether your friends and family appreciate your efforts, you have created your very own Cat Hall of Fame.