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Kerri Pajutee

Behold: 10 Exceptionally Tiny Animal Figurines

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Kerri Pajutee

I don’t know about you, but I love tiny versions of normal sized things: miniature dogs, mini cupcakes, tiny hats, Little Sebastian, free sample spoons at ice cream shops, everything. Luckily for me and fellow miniature enthusiasts, there are people like Kerri Pajutee, who creates beautiful and realistic animals at 1:12 scale.

“I was first introduced to miniatures while attending a dollhouse miniatures show in 1987," Kerri Pajutee told us in an email. "I remember being very impressed by some of the talented miniature artisans and the detail they could achieve using polymer clay. Prior to this, I had been sculpting figures/animals in earth clays (i.e., stoneware, porcelain), which is somewhat limiting as to achieving the tiny details needed to construct a miniature, simply due to the nature of the clay. So after attending the show, I purchased some polymer clay and began to experiment with sculpting dog breeds in 1:12 scale. After becoming somewhat comfortable with the medium, I began to add the fiber coat hoping to make the pieces appear more 'realistic.'”

The process starts with wire and aluminum foil wrapped in masking tape to create the basic shape. The wire helps with limbs and the aluminum foil helps build the bulk of the body. Pajutee uses a blended polymer mix of Fimo Classic, Puppen Fimo, and/or Prosculpt. The clay is smoothed over the figure evenly and eyes made of glass or polished rounds are added before oven curing. The sculpt takes several stages and the figure makes multiple trips to the oven before the final curing.

After the final curing and cooling, an X-Acto knife is used to carve out additional details. Next the soon-to-be animal is sanded, wiped with acetone, and bathed in soap and water.

Then, after the figurine is painted with acyclic, it's time to add the fur. The coat can be made of a variety of fibers ranging from alpaca to silk. “I am what you would call a fiber hound and have hundreds of different samples, spools and hanks of various fibers in all colors/shades that I have collected over the years," Pajutee explains. "Fiber can be purchased direct from breeders, Needlepoint shops, or online such as farm website, Etsy or even Ebay.” The fiber coat is applied with tweezers, scissors and glue. 

The process varies from animal to animal, but it usually takes around 8 to 14 hours. The artist generally works in 1:12 scale but sometimes she goes as small as 1:24! See this impossibly tiny golden retriever below.

Surprisingly, cats were originally the hardest to create. After a lot of practice, they became Pajutee’s favorite to make, though, and are the most common request from collectors (and just look at those wittle whiskers).

The props seen in the pictures come from a variety of places. Some come from other miniature artists, but Pajutee will also make her own if she is not able to buy what she needs.

The bad news:

You probably can’t own them. Pajutee can only produce so many figures each year, so the waitlist to order one could take years. If you are still interested, her contact page is here. 

The good news:

There are hundreds of pictures of teeny tiny animals on her website in all their adorable glory. Feel free to peruse and aww. Also, if you are anywhere near Kentucky, you can find some pieces on permanent exhibit in the Kathleen Savage Browning Miniature Collection at Kentucky Gateway Museum.

If you really need to own something tiny and cute, check out this Etsy page for microscopic crocheted animals (because you didn’t realize until right now how badly you needed a tiny sloth in a plastic cube).

All images courtesy of Kerri Pajutee.

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This Just In
Criminal Gangs Are Smuggling Illegal Rhino Horns as Jewelry
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Valuable jewelry isn't always made from precious metals or gems. Wildlife smugglers in Africa are increasingly evading the law by disguising illegally harvested rhinoceros horns as wearable baubles and trinkets, according to a new study conducted by wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC.

As BBC News reports, TRAFFIC analyzed 456 wildlife seizure records—recorded between 2010 and June 2017—to trace illegal rhino horn trade routes and identify smuggling methods. In a report, the organization noted that criminals have disguised rhino horns in the past using all kinds of creative methods, including covering the parts with aluminum foil, coating them in wax, or smearing them with toothpaste or shampoo to mask the scent of decay. But as recent seizures in South Africa suggest, Chinese trafficking networks within the nation are now concealing the coveted product by shaping horns into beads, disks, bangles, necklaces, and other objects, like bowls and cups. The protrusions are also ground into powder and stored in bags along with horn bits and shavings.

"It's very worrying," Julian Rademeyer, a project leader with TRAFFIC, told BBC News. "Because if someone's walking through the airport wearing a necklace made of rhino horn, who is going to stop them? Police are looking for a piece of horn and whole horns."

Rhino horn is a hot commodity in Asia. The keratin parts have traditionally been ground up and used to make medicines for illnesses like rheumatism or cancer, although there's no scientific evidence that these treatments work. And in recent years, horn objects have become status symbols among wealthy men in countries like Vietnam.

"A large number of people prefer the powder, but there are those who use it for lucky charms,” Melville Saayman, a professor at South Africa's North-West University who studies the rhino horn trade, told ABC News. “So they would like a piece of the horn."

According to TRAFFIC, at least 1249 rhino horns—together weighing more than five tons—were seized globally between 2010 and June 2017. The majority of these rhino horn shipments originated in southern Africa, with the greatest demand coming from Vietnam and China. The product is mostly smuggled by air, but routes change and shift depending on border controls and law enforcement resources.

Conservationists warn that this booming illegal trade has led to a precipitous decline in Africa's rhinoceros population: At least 7100 of the nation's rhinos have been killed over the past decade, according to one estimate, and only around 25,000 remain today. Meanwhile, Save the Rhino International, a UK-based conservation charity, told BBC News that if current poaching trends continue, rhinos could go extinct in the wild within the next 10 years.

[h/t BBC News]

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Big Questions
Do Cats Fart?
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Certain philosophical questions can invade even the most disciplined of minds. Do aliens exist? Can a soul ever be measured? Do cats fart?

While the latter may not have weighed heavily on some of history’s great brains, it’s certainly no less deserving of an answer. And in contrast to existential queries, there’s a pretty definitive response: Yes, they do. We just don’t really hear it.

According to veterinarians who have realized their job sometimes involves answering inane questions about animals passing gas, cats have all the biological hardware necessary for a fart: a gastrointestinal system and an anus. When excess air builds up as a result of gulping breaths or gut bacteria, a pungent cloud will be released from their rear ends. Smell a kitten’s butt sometime and you’ll walk away convinced that cats fart.

The discretion, or lack of audible farts, is probably due to the fact that cats don’t gulp their food like dogs do, leading to less air accumulating in their digestive tract.

So, yes, cats do fart. But they do it with the same grace and stealth they use to approach everything else. Think about that the next time you blame the dog.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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