This is another project I’ve been waiting to see come to fruition—my own black cat silhouette doormats! I decided to make a few during my virtual open house in October, in part to answer some questions about materials and designs for me, and to gather feedback on the whole idea. The idea was a hit, and some of the feedback I got both surprised me and made the printing process easier.
This design began as a marker sketch of Bella having a stretch in the kitchen, along with two other activities that easily lent themselves to a set of sketches, called “Fun Things Bella Does With Her Tail”. I always liked those silhouettes, and knew someday I’d “do something” with them. This is the first “something”, but it won’t be the last.
Developing the product
Many years ago, just after I moved into this house, a friend gave me a coir doormat with two black kitty silhouettes on it. I still have it at my front door, and it’s still in pretty good shape 30 years later. It’s provided a lot of that inspiration to make my own doormats too.
I started following all the crafty posts about stenciling doormats, mostly these “coir”, or coconut shell fiber, mats, as well as other types of synthetic carpet and felted types. For the most part the makers use acrylic craft paint and advise they are not weatherproof and may not wear for very long. What kind of a doormat is that? Certainly not a mat like the one I’ve enjoyed all these years. And if I’m going to make something, and someone else is going to spend money on it, it’s going to be durable and last longer than a few months.
I purchased a few 24″ x 16″ premade coir doormats at IKEA to play around with. They are a good size, got good reviews, and seemed pretty sturdy after I used one for a bit and let it be rained on and rolled and folded it.
But the paint was the real question—which of the many paints available was going to stand up to both weather and wear? Back in the 1980s I was a sign painter and used a product called “1-Shot lettering enamel”. Some of the signs I painted then, like my house sign, are still in good shape now. I purchased a new can of black, cut the stencil out of adhesive vinyl, and stenciled one up. The paint was very sticky for this application, and though that works well for lettering it picked up my stencil and I had to be very careful of losing the edges in tiny areas, especially if I had text, which I had originally planned, and I had to use more paint than I expected. The paint is expensive, a little too expensive to use for this in order for me to be able to resell them for a reasonable price.
I put a little more thought into what was the next most weatherproof and durable paint and decided that would be porch and floor enamel, which is more fluid but easily applied, and very affordable for this project. Plus, it dries a lot faster, there are no toxic fumes, and cleans up with soap and water. That’s a win all around!
Designing the mat
Next was to work up one of the ideas I had, and I went with my favorite. You’ll see above that I had a line of text under the kitty, “SCRATCH YOUR CLAWS HERE!” Most of the doormats I see anywhere have text on them, and sometimes they’re all text. I’m all for designing something that people apparently want and I had several ideas like this one. But because of the sticky issue I described above with the paint, there was no way I could stencil the text. So I shared the mat without it just to get some feedback. And that’s what really surprised me—everyone I asked said they preferred it without the text! Well, that made my job that much easier. Nearly all my designs had text on them. I may still have one or two that have text, but I like just the kitty silhouettes I’ve worked up over the years. Let me know what you think in the comments below or send me an email, and as I work with these I’ll figure that out.
After that first one, I purchased adhesive stencil vinyl and cut another stencil without text but with a larger kitty silhouette. I made eight mats in time for Christmas, and sold them all, with requests for more.
This past weekend I decided to cut a more permanent stencil from lightweight, flexible plexiglass.
The harder material that can’t curl on the edges or flip up while I’m stenciling gives me nice clear edges and works much better with the uneven surface of the coir mat, and it’s easy to clean after I use it. I left a little paint on it so you could actually see it, since it’s clear
I also discovered that Ikea carries their larger mats, just about 24 x 36, all the time, but not so much their 16 x 24 mats. I’ve decided to purchase the larger mats and cut them in half so the mats are now 18 x 24 rather than the original 16 x 24.
And I’m so happy that after all the work I’ve done in my house in the past few months to make “making things” easier and more efficient, I managed to cut the stencil and print eight mats in about three hours. In the old days, I would have spent an hour or so just getting a space cleared to work and gather the materials, and they would only have been able to print two or three at a time because of space to lay them out to dry. If these mats are that popular, all the work I did was definitely worth it for just these!
Where to purchase the mats
Mats are $15.00 each in person, $20.00 with shipping. Because of the weight, 3.5 pounds each, I can’t offer any discounts for purchasing multiple mats. Click here to find them on www.PortraitsOfAnimals.net.Other items with the same art or design To find all items on this site with the same art or design, use the search box for the name of the artwork and you'll find all that's available.
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