I was wandering about at a thrift store a while back when I came across a rather lonely little wooden pull toy on a shelf. It was obviously an import from Pier 1 or some similar shop, roughly hand-carved and poorly painted so that it looked somewhere between a cheetah and a tiger, and with a rough piece of twine for a pull cord. One of its cheap glass eyes was missing, and I was pretty sure nobody else was going to buy it.
So I brought it home to give it a makeover! I wanted to pay homage to Oregon’s resident large wild cat, the mountain lion, so I repainted this cat in tawny and white markings, and made it hand-painted eyes made from cow leather scrap from my other works. The stand and wheels it rolls around on were a garish bright green, which was nicely covered by a mottled darker green and brown. And since it looked rather sparse on that ground, I added some pebbles I got from another thrift store trip, dried and preserved rosemary from my own garden, and moss from an old taxidermy mount. Finally, I braided secondhand wool yarn to make a new, prettier pull cord.
The cougar measures 7″ long x 3 1/2″ wide x 6 1/2″ high, and the cord is 18″ long. It’s more of an art piece than a young child’s toy; it wasn’t originally created to take a lot of hard wear and tear (more of a kitschy decoration). However, it would look great on a shelf, as part of a nature display, even as a film or photo prop.