The hardest part of loving pets is that we have to say goodbye someday. When that happens, we want a way to hold onto our loved one’s memory, if only in a small way. Artist Jen Glick of “Volana Kote” in Wilmington, Delaware, has found a unique art form, helping people do just that. She’s incorporating tiny things, a whisker, nail sheaths, some fur, or ashes from a pet that has crossed the rainbow bridge into custom jewelry.
When we lose a beloved pet, holding something so small as a whisker can help in the grieving process. Crisscrossed whiskers encased permanently in waterproof resin take on new life, almost like crystalline structures. The artist calls them the “ultimate wearable tribute honoring your own four-footed friend.”
While things like fur or a whisker don’t seem very important while pets are with us, a tiny tangible connection when they are gone takes on a sudden new meaning.
Naturally Shedded Whiskers Only
Volana Kote only takes naturally fallen, not plucked whiskers. Plucking a cat’s whiskers harms a cat. So they must be found where they fall, like a tiny treasure hunt. For example, you could find one on the stairs or clinging to fabric. Only one or two are needed to make a custom piece. For pets that have crossed the rainbow bridge, a tiny amount of their ashes can be encased forever too. While we focus on cats, the tributes can be for any pet, a dog, a bird, a pig, or any beloved that has passed.
On Facebook, Glick shared the inspurration for her work, a pretty white kitty named Hatchet. Meanwhile, other cats in the home help her with her creativity and the business side of Volana Kote.
“Hatchet was my first baby boy who shared with me the longest whiskers ever!” Glick shared. “He was the inspiration behind my work along with his sister, our Chief Executive Officer, Molly, who always makes sure I take ‘pet my belly’ breaks. (Seriously, how could anyone ever say no!)
“Sugar Bear, Lil Kim and Molly Pockets always join me in my studio for quality control…Kimmy is very, very critical. Beaver works diligently to ensure all orders are packaged properly and occasionally shares some elusive black whiskers with me,” she says.
Zach, the Maine Coon’s Whisker Tribute
When people send her their carefully collected whiskers or other tiny treasures, Glick often ‘meets’ the beloved pets corresponding with pictures and words so she knows their personalities. It can be a touching and emotional experience for all involved.
For example, Zach the Maine Coon passed away, and the artist worked with his Mommy to create the perfect tribute.
After learning more about Zach in a video, she made jewelry to match his eyes and incorporated a tiny amount of ashes from Zach and his cat siblings, who had passed away before him. What a beautiful tribute for Zach’s mom to always be able to wear.
Fundraising for Rescues
Sales from Whisker Tributes help rescuers too! For example, Volana Kote was a “Meowchant” at Seattle’s Sea-Meow Convention, with exhibit proceeds helping area shelters save casts. (A portion of proceeds on Etsy also goes to shelters and rescue groups.)
“We adore our rescues and wish they could be with us always. Looking down at a ring that incorporates their collected whiskers is a subtle comfort us: we know we’ll see them soon and they are close. With collected whiskers, we are able to create personal tributes as well as fundraiser pieces for rescues. We support shelters with exhibit proceeds and are honored to give back to the people who have rescued and cared for our life-long companions,” the Sea-Meow Convention shared.
Other rescues, like the Alley Cat Cafe in Stratford, ON, collect whiskers they would ordinarily sweep away. But instead, they can turn them into precious jewelry for fundraising auctions.
Cole and Marmalade’s Whisker Tribute
In November 2020, Volana Kote helped Jess and Chris celebrate their 10-year wedding anniversary. Jess received a beautiful ring and necklace containing whiskers from both Cole and Marmalade!
“The past decade has been a wild ride… from big cats to house cats, cross country moves, highs, lows and legal woes… but when we’re together things feel right, we make a pawsome team and we know we’re meant to be,” Cole and Marmalade shared. “Special thanks to Volana Kote for making this purrfect ring and necklace for Jess with Cole and Marm whiskers actually set in the jewelry itself!”