Handmade Artists & Their Cats - Hiné

Hiné's cat Lili

Hiné's cat Lili

Octosnake by Hiné

Octosnake by Hiné

Today's post features Hiné, an über-talented artist whose work includes weird-cute felt sculptures, "camera" camera cases, and even videos for the band, They Might Be Giants (such as this). Her work has been featured in numerous galleries around the world.

(1) Please introduce yourself and cat.

Hello! I'm Hiné Mizushima, a Japanese Illustrator, Slow Crafter, Puppet stop-motion video artist who lives in Vancouver, Canada, with my husband, our son, and my cat, Lili. 

After I lost my hyper-active cat, Hana, in an accident, I didn't feel like getting another cat for some time. But after about 2 years, I started getting the urge to have another cat, and decided to adopt a kitten from a local orphan kitten rescue association. This was 4 years ago.

2013_12_03 Hine.jpg

Out of the many cats that I've had, Lili is the sweetest little girl. Maybe because she grew up in a foster home with her siblings until she was 3 months old, she came to us as a well-mannered kitty who never scratched or bit us. At the same time, she is very shy and timid, and has a hard time getting used to people. 

She prefers felt balls and twist ties over any toy sold in pet shops, and has always loved to make me throw felt balls so she could play 'fetch' - as if she were a dog in her previous life. During the night, she seems to be dropping felt balls from the top of the stairs and playing fetch by herself. 

2013_12_03 Hine 5.jpg

(2) Does your cat affect your art? If so, how?

Because I think the real thing is so much cuter than any reproduction, I've actually rarely made cats. The few examples of work featuring a cat are this video and this sculpture

Lili is almost always in the room while I work, so it's nice to be able to pet her, hold her, and just snorgle her furry belly to relax any time. 

But I have to be careful because she sometimes runs away with a half-finished felt sculpture or crashes a scene while I'm filming stop-motion. 

(3) Is there a cat-related handmade item by another artist that you love?

The felt cats created by Neko Labo, which I came across either on Twitter or Instagram are just amazing! I'm usually not attracted to realistic reproductions, but Neko Labo's cats are not imitations, but capture the essence of cats - their attitude, endearing behavior and  expression. If you have ever owned a cat, you will immediately recognize every pose, every situation. Take a look at these photo on Instagram - and tell me if you can tell which cats are real and which are sculptures!

Another artist I love is deceased and so does not have an Etsy shop or anything, but he is Utagawa Kuniyoshi, a master of the Japanese Ukiyo-e from the Edo Period. It's said that his studio was always full of cats, and he was an avid cat-lover. Cats appear in many of his works, but the most impressive piece must be this. The cats of Edo come to life in it.  

Giant Daphnia brooches

Giant Daphnia brooches

Thank you Hiné!

Here is Hiné's main website, Etsy shop and Flickr page