Deep Midnight Perfumes

Deep Midnight Perfumes

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

THE CAT SLAVE: An Interview with Donna Baker and C.L.A.W.S.

Today I have an interview for you with Donna Baker, owner of the shop, THE CAT SLAVE, on etsy and C.L.A.W.S. (Cat Lovers Alliance for Welfare and Sterilization), a non-profit tax exempt 501.3c animal charity.  Donna and her daughter Wendy both have shops on etsy selling an array of steampunk and fantasy themed jewelry and other fun things to support the charity.  Deep Midnight Perfumes donates to C.L.A.W.S. I hope you enjoy reading and learning about this wonderful woman and her charity!
Filigree Necklace with Bottle Charms by The Cat Slave on etsy
How did you decide you wanted to rescue and provide for animals?

"There was a horrible place beyond any description in Nashville, TN that was the Metro Dog Pound. I knew of it for years but felt powerless to do anything about it.
Prior to that, all my life, I had picked up and fixed and homed for life animals (primarily cats) and felt like, "ok, this makes a difference".

In 1991 I ran across a gal who felt as I did about the dog pound and the war was on. We became the dog pounds worst nightmare. Cats were tortured and starved in the awful place (as were dogs) and hated.

Our efforts gained us some fellow warriors. For two years we kept the cats pulled out of the pound, vetted and placed in forever homes. It got hugely expensive, so I went to Nashville Humane to try to get them to help us. They did. I could go in there anytime as their agent and pull cats without paying the pull fee.

Finally after about 4 years, we (the core group) managed to pressure the health department and local government to train the staff (training, imagine!) about euthanasia technique, cleaning practices, and several other major changes like putting puppies and kittens on newspaper so their little feet would not go through the wire of the bottom of the cage, and separating  dogs, not by the day they came in but according to male/female, large/small, sick/not sick (yet). Then finally there came a new facility that was up to date and not down on the river where no one ever went.  The founding of C.L.A.W.S. grew out of that."

Spa/Grooming Day!
I am sure a lot is involved in the rescue process, but can you tell us a little bit about how you find and rescue animals?

"Early on it was from the dog pound, and then we worked with the shelter in fostering especially during kitten season.

For about the last 12-13 years we have moved mostly to TNR as we felt they needed our help more than the more friendly ones. We do not euthanize unless there is suffering. So over the years our focus has been on dislocated ferals, those who could not be released at the trapping site for various reasons, and have morphed into more of a sanctuary for disgruntled, an or special needs felines.

Since moving to the country 10 years ago, and living on a dead end road in a county that is all too unaware of spay/neuter, we have no problem finding needy animals.  We assist with traps, education and contacts to help people with their barn cats or any cat/kitten they find. Education is sorely needed in rural areas." 
Black Lace Choker by The Cat Slave on etsy
You are a registered 501.3c charity and raise funds for the animals you rescue through the designs you create. How did you come to create jewelry to support the charity you run?

"Before we moved to the country, being near a large city (Nashville), we had a great deal of support. The country is very, very different.   Mars/Nutro generously donates food to us and I, with a vast number of years in veterinary clinics and experience, can handle most things that arise with the animals. As all non-profits like ours there is never an overabundance of money so we pick up a lot of the cost of maintenance for our facility. Being in a county that does not even have a veterinarian is difficult.  However, have a country vet who is good to us and is available for emergencies. We are fortunate to have him."
Keepsake Gift Tag by The Faery Watcher on etsy
Please tell us little about what inspires you to create and/or rescue?

"The need for money for the animals guided me into making jewelry to generate funds for our rescue/sanctuary."
Filigree Mask Necklace by The Cat Slave on etsy
Describe your feelings when you rescue and place an animal in a new home?

"A forever home for a cat or kitten that had a hard start in life is very rewarding. Having had a pet sitting business for 18 years (before moving to the country) I had a pipeline to good homes very often.

Most people don’t realize how hard it is to find, screen and "read" prospective homes. Not everyone who wants a pet should not have one and we have do not problem turning someone down for a better situation. You learn what questions to ask, "Did you want an indoor cat or outdoor cat" (want indoor homes), have you had a cat before (wrong answer is "oh yeah, a lot of them".....ok where are they now?) Moving, remarriage, family changes etc. where they did not take their furred family member is instant disqualification. Being a committed pet owner who will keep their pet no matter what the inconvenience is all we will consider."
Stained Glass style Buttons by The Faery Watcher on etsy
Apart from designing beautiful jewelry and rescuing animals, what else do you enjoy doing?
"I love cottage gardening, ponds, politics, period piece movies, being in this beautiful setting in my dream log home:)"
Cat Angel Necklace by The Cat Slave on etsy
I know they are all so precious and sweet, but what animal you have rescued has touched your life the most?

"Now that’s a hard one. If I could only pick one, it would be Picnic from the Women’s Prison in Nashville, TN. A guard had tried to kill her and she suffered permanent injuries, was very, very angry, could not be released to a farm (had no lower jaw and blind in one eye) so she lived with us and became a little love sponge. I knew every hug and kindness we gave her might in some way counteract the horrible things she had gone through at the prison. She passed away quietly, here at home, in her bed, 6 years ago. We miss her and always smile when we think about her."
Where can we find your lovely jewelry and information on your charity?

"My daughter, Wendy, and I have shops on Etsy,

We exhibit together for shows: I am Donna, she is Wendy, and together we are Donwyn Creations.

We have a presence on other sites,, Art Fire, Zibbet, and Goodsmiths. Shops on these other sites are not full for lack of time as the animals come first. Everything else comes after the animals.

On FB I am thecatslave and Donna (Hedge) Baker, and on Twitter I am "catslaveiam".
Wendy has a FB page, thefaerywatcher, Wendy Baker-Smith."
Metal and Lace Goddess Necklace by The Faery Watcher on etsy
Thank you for the inteview, Donna, and for all the good work you do for animals! 
Dear readers, I hope you have enjoyed this interview.  Best wishes--Cat xoxo ;)

** All photos courtesy of and copyright of Donna Baker and Wendy Baker-Smith

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Calliope Rescue: An Interview with Claudia Bruno

Many of you know I have a soft spot in my heart for animals and that Deep Midnight Perfumes donates funds to animal charities.  Calliope Rescue is one the animal charities that Deep Midnight Perfumes has donated to.  Claudia Bruno, co-founder of Calliope Rescue, is a talented jewelry designer and artist who also happens to help rescue cats and kittens.  Here is my interview with Claudia.

Leonardo Thank You Card from Calliope Rescue Store

How did you decide you wanted to rescue cats and kittens?

I worked at the Ellen Gifford Cat Shelter in Brighton, MA for many years. I have seen the unthinkable come through those doors and I thought that being "in the trenches", so to speak, would be more rewarding for me.

Wolfgang Bottle Baby

I know you rescue, care for and find homes for a lot of bottle babies; can you tell us a bit about all the work involved?

Bottle babies are the toughest type of rescue. The reason for it is that "bottle feeders" are a rare commodity for any group. Most groups in Massachusetts do not have a bottle feeder on staff and must rely on networking to save those little lives. An orphaned kitten cannot survive without formula and care for many hours, so it is essential that the rescue group find a bottle feeder within a couple of hours.
Junior Bottle Baby

This is where I come in. :-)  Bottle feeding orphaned animals requires lots of coffee! Depending on the age, the litter must be fed every two to four hours via a bottle with kitten formula. Also stimulating the litter with a wet cotton ball so they can go to the bathroom is part of this work since the mom would be doing this. Then come the baths: flea and ear mites infestation, de-wormers, eye infections, upper respiratory problems and the constant worry that they may not make it.

Claudia Bruno

Girl On Moon Cuff by Claudia Bruno

You are a registered 501.3c charity and raise funds for the animals you rescue through the designs you create and products you sell. Please tell us how you became a jewelry designer?

I began my artistic career as a rock and roll photographer in the 90's. I taught alternative darkroom processes at the Institute for Contemporary Art in Boston and then pursued an artistic career using alternative photographic methods. One of my photographs belongs to the Paul Getty Conservation Institute!

Once digital photography wiped out all the wonderful films and paper, I found myself without a medium of creative expressions. Since I still have a darkroom in my house and I know my way around chemistry, I decided to patina metal components for Steampunk designers. Though I design pieces myself, my biggest satisfaction is to provide other designers with unique, artisanal components and to fuel their creativity.

Sunflower Field Necklace by Claudia Bruno

Please describe a typical day when you sit down to design.

These days, my designing happens mainly in the darkroom. I start with pounds of raw brass; I see them as canvas. Gargoyles, wings, hearts and medieval shields suddenly take on personalities through chemistry. I adore the alchemy involved, when something ordinary becomes extraordinary. The patterns and splashes of color turn the shiny brass look into something aged, almost as if it were coming from another world or era.

Catnip Toy from Calliope Rescue Store

It has to be happy when you place a cat or kitten in new home, but also very hard to say goodbye. Do you ever keep in touch with the family that adopts a kitten?

I do mostly intakes and my co-founder Brenda does the adoptions. The reason for it is that I am devastated for days after a kitten that I have nursed for months leaves me for the first time to go live in his/her forever home. I would rather deal with other agencies and rescue groups, foster homes and any medical issues at hand. I have conducted 870 adoptions in my career, and I usually cry at every single one. We get pictures and updates on a regular basis. YES!

Venetian Lagoon Ruins Brooch by Claudia Bruno
What other hobbies or interests do you have time for?

My husband, if he is lucky.

I have seen so many pictures of all the sweet kittens you care for, which one has touched your heart the most?

The ones that will forever be with me are 4 kittens I nursed, Sunny, Stormy, Natalya and Cupcake. I raised them from a week old and when it was time for them to spayed and neutered, they were diagnosed with a terminal feline disease and had to be humanely euthanized. I am still crying about it, I felt like four of my babies had died. I will be getting their portraits tattooed next year as a tribute to the four little lives that touched my heart and soul. The saddest part of animal rescue is to realize that you were the only home an animal has ever known.

Currently Claudia is in the process of trying to raise funds for Tao.  Please read more about Tao and his story here:
Tao: Calliope Rescue


Where can we find your jewelry and information for your charity?

Ca Dario Necklace By Claudia Bruno

Thank you so much, Claudia, for sharing with us!

All photos courtesy of and copyright of Claudia Bruno.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Jupiter's Haven: An Interview with Jewelry Designer Jen Perez

I have really enjoyed interviewing and getting to know a little bit more about some of my favorite shops and designers on etsy.  This time I had the opportunity to interview Jen Perez, creator of swanky wearables at Jupiter's Haven. Thank you, Jen, for sharing with all of us!

What first made you want to become a jewelry designer?
"I had an obsessive image come to me of a bracelet that was in a woven/beaded style; but I couldn't find anything remotely close to what was in my head. I had inherited my mom's seed beads, played around with them, and somehow transferred myself to the realm of elastic bracelets. I ended up making a *ridiculous* amount, and wore them all on my left arm. Still nothing like the image I had in my head, but it was apparently only the first stepping stone!"

How do you begin your design process?
"I would love to say that I have a fool proof system! Some days I just sit in front of my shiny hoard and let creations come to me. My muse sometimes gives me a head start by dancing incandescent pictures of finished jewelry around in my brain. I also have a magpie/pack rat addiction to most things that cross my path; sometimes I see beads, or some bauble and it inspires me to make something with it."

What are your favorite materials to work with?
"I *love* metal, always have. My dream is to do my own metal work in the future; in the meantime, I sugarcoat the craving with chain and rings! I loves me the sparkly gems, but, who doesn't? On a non-jewelry related side note, I also love to work with fabric, but I'm still a novice."

What do you remember about your very first customer and sale?
"I worked in a Spa gift shop, and was fortunate that my manager encouraged me to sell my elastic bracelets. My first sale was to one of the more frequent guests, who traveled all over the world. I thought it memorable that she had all this fortune at her disposal, but she bought a $20 charm bracelet in a little gift shop. It definitely felt pretty awesome!"

Apart from designing beautiful jewelry, what else do you enjoy doing?
"I'm a pretty big nerd, although I don't entirely come off that way. I try to devote a couple hours every few nights to playing Diablo 3 with my other half. I also photograph whenever possible; I live to photograph! Movies are another huge addiction of mine; my collection has things like The X-Files, Star Trek, Alien, the original Doctor Doolittle, Harry Potter, Invader Zim, Jaws, and many more. Movies are definitely a huge part of my existence!"

What handmade possession do you cherish the most?
"My mom's friend made me a farmer-themed blanket when I was born, that is still in quite good condition for how long it's been used. I'm sure I'll never part with it."

Where can we find your lovely jewelry?
On Etsy at, and
I use my Facebook fan page and Twitter for announcing new items in my shop, promoting my, as well as some of my favorite Etsians', sales, photographed events, and peeks behind the scenes:
You can also find me here! (I have way too many interests :) ) (@jupiters_haven)

Photos courtesy of Jen Perez