Sachi, an artist from Japan, specializes in creating uncanny cat portraits from needle-felted wool. Sometimes, the 3-D creations are placed inside a frame and called “Waku-neco” or “frame cat.” Then, they are displayed on a cute little wooden easel. Sachi also uses the professional name “Wakuneco” when discussing her highly artistic creations.
Originally, Sachi started as a painter and landscape photographer. However, she said, “no one saw me,” until she began doing cat portraits. Since 2015, the artist has created incredibly realistic cats, sharing them on social media.
“Each real whisker is placed by hand with a pair of tweezers, each glass eye painted and touched up until it precisely imitates the shimmering hues of a real cat’s eyes,” wrote Sarah Archer for The Atlantic.
From the beginning, she received requests from people who had lost their beloved pets. After they share pictures and memories of their cat, she sets out to capture the cat’s inner spirit in every detail. Often, Sachi draws from her photography skills, color correcting to match the true-to-life tones.
Also, the artist learns from her “teachers,” her three cats, Shima, Fuku-chan, and Guri.
“They are my teachers.🐱🐱🐱❤️I am finding their whiskers when I clean the room. I found so many in 4 years! 😳✨I might attach this to my work.🐱✨ It can also be found in your room👀✨✨✨❣️”
When you see Sachi’s cats, they look photographic, taking her up to six months to complete sometimes. First, she will sketch the cat’s portrait on paper.
“The more you love your pet, the harder it will be to cope with the loss,” she told a Japanese outlet. “I can’t take away their pain, but I hope my works will help them find solace.”
Sachi’s Portrait of Blue-Chan
Recently, Sachi created a portrait of a beloved cat named “Blue-chan,” who lived to be 22. Rescuers saved him as an injured kitten. His name reflects his blue kitten eyes, which later turned green.
Unfortunately, Blue-chan faced cancer, and Sachi wanted his portrait to show when he felt his best. Below, you can see how she does it, a time-consuming labor of love. For example, she held a lock of his real fur to get an exact match for the wool. To get it right, she selected eight different shades of color!
In the end, the portrait is Blue-chan in every detail, down to his one mottled eye.
Video by Wakuneco:
Sachi Creates Shelter Cat Portraits Too!
Along with creating extraordinary 3-D cat portraits for those who lost a pet, the artist also creates portraits of shelter cats. She hopes to raise awareness for all the shelter cats looking for homes.
For several years, Sachi has shared her cat cart on YouTube on the Wakuneco Vlog.
“I hope it will bring happiness to the animals waiting for a kind family,” she says on Instagram.
Recently, she went to a cat cafe to find models for her artwork. Then, these former shelter cats will be models for a how-to-book coming out in 2022.
“All cats are equally adorable, and I’d make them all if I could,” she says.
Capturing a Cat’s Spirit Through the Eyes
When she creates her cat models, Sachi is “extremely particular” about making them just like real-life cats. So, she has a large collection of wool and other materials, choosing wisely to get the portrait just right. Most of all, the artist focuses on getting an accurate representation of the cat’s eyes.
Using a mixture of acrylic paint and sand, she gets the pretty reticulated look of cats’ eyes. Then, a glass sphere goes on top.
“I think that the moment when the cat’s spirit enters into the artwork can be presented through the eyes. In that sense, I have been very particular about how to make the eyes,” she tells Inside Edition.
Recently, Sachi was one of the artists featured in Netflix’s “Cat People” series. In the episode “Copycat,” she works with two sisters to create a portrait of a 10-year-old cat, Miyu. By the end of the episode, the sisters are amazed by the portrait.
“The sisters are stunned by the verisimilitude of Sachi’s rendering, and Sachi is, in turn, thrilled with their response. Her work as Wakuneco gave her, it seems, a way to finally be seen,” says Sarah Archer.
Thus, it seems that Sachi found her calling to lovingly create cat portraits, taking it to a new fine art level.
Video by Inside Edition:
Featured images: Screenshots via YouTube and Instagram/wakuneco