Scaredy Cats by Deborah Ciolli

Poetry Monday: “Scaredy Cats”

Clicca qui per leggere questo post in italiano. (Click here to read this post in Italian.)

About a year and a half ago, I met a local artist who kindly invited me to tea to introduce me to some other creative types and give me a tour of her ceramics studio. Now, I like housewares as much as the next gal, so I was looking forward to perusing an array of lovely bowls and plates, or maybe even picking up a new tea set for myself. Because that’s what ceramicists make, right?

Dora and the Scaredy Cats by Deborah Ciolli
Don't look under the bed.

Apparently not up on a certain hill in Tuscany. When today’s guest, Deborah Ciolli, threw open the doors to her lab, I was transported into some kind of Lewis Carroll world populated by romping goats and jellyfish and amazing characters with crazy hair. There’s a graceful flutist and a dancer and Red Riding Hood and a woman lost in the turbulent pages of a book and men in flying bathtubs. There are these pieces I used for my Pencil and Pen love story. There’s Cinderella who spurned the prince’s advances, went to fashion school, got a Master’s in business, and opened a high-end shoe store. There are horses and stars and swirly trees and fish galore, and everything done up in crackled blue and orange and green. It is a joyous place.

So I didn’t get any plates. But I did find some cats all huddled together on a shelf, all with a look of terror that made me giggle like a schoolgirl. Deborah says they aren’t scared at all, but I say that art is in the eye of the beholder, and in my opinion, these cats are petrified! That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. I give you…”Scaredy Cats.”

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Scaredy Cats

Little dimpled Dora
had a horde of frightened cats.
They slunk around the corners
and hid in Dora’s hats.

If guests came by to chatter,
they’d scatter and they’d crouch
till Dora came to peel them off
the lampshades and the couch.

A creaking door could send them
into tizzies of commotion–
a caterwauling chorus
of puffy tails and high emotion.

If a wayward breeze should make
the nighttime curtains billow,
Dora’d wake to find those cats
a-tremble on her pillow.

Their eyes lit up the darkness
with a terrifying gleam,
and Dora often heard them
utter little kitty screams.

It went like that for many moons,
through years both weird and spooky,
and living with that horde of cats
made Dora downright kooky.

She cowered like a kitten,
so said everyone she knew:
“Yes, that little dimpled Dora
is a scaredy cat, too.”

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Blue Cat by Deborah Ciolli
I am concerned.


Now, just look at these cats! That blue one cracks me up. What did they see? What did they SEE?

[heading style=”1″]Featured Artist ~ Deborah Ciolli[/heading]

Did you HEAR that?

Dora and the Scaredy Cats by Deborah Ciolli - 2
What. Is. THAT?

What’s Up with Deborah

Deborah Ciolli

Deborah, who are you, where are you, and why are you making terrified cats out of clay? 
I’m Deborah Ciolli, and I was born and raised in Florence, Italy. Eventually I followed my love to the country, where I now live on a hill facing the sea along with a veritable tribe of animals – many of which are cats who lord over the house and my chaotic ceramics studio. And I make cats and other ceramics because I wouldn’t know what else to do to tell all my stories!

I must say that the girl looks suspiciously like you. Is she a self-portrait? And what is she so frightened of?
Yes, that’s really me, but she’s not frightened. It’s just that, like me, she has really big eyes that are always wide open so she can observe everyone and everything…so that then she can turn what she sees into stories and ceramic characters!

Oops, hope you don’t mind that I’ve renamed you Dora! I know you love to make up fantastical stories for all your pieces. When I first saw these cats, they made me laugh because they looked so frightened. But what’s the real story behind Dora and the Scaredy Cats?
I love the name Dora. This piece was born one night when I felt a little alone and lost in memories of my childhood. So I created myself with a doll in my arms and then, seeing as all my cats had come inside to surround me with furry caresses and purrs, I decided to create them as well – but as if they were in a photo and had been surprised by the flash!

Aha! And here I’ve turned them all into cowardly kitties! What do you do when you’re not scaring up cats in your studio?
I love drinking tea, reading books, taking long walks with friends and my sweet pup Alghirius, and of course spending time with my girlfriends!

Can we see other neat stuff you’ve done?
Absolutely! My work is in a bunch of shops in various cities in Italy, in the Majolika di Karlsrhue museum in Germany, and scattered around several parks in the form of Land Art installations, including in the Sterpaia park right here in Piombino. But if you’re not in the neighborhood, you can also see some of my pieces on my blog, Il Laboratorio di Debora Ciolli.

Land Art - Deborah Ciolli
Land Art: If the trees are spying on'll know who to blame.











What would you do if you found a terrified cat on your head in the middle of the night?
I would pet him and cuddle him and calm him down, and then I’d bring him to live on the hill with me, the goats, the dogs, and my tamed fox!

Thanks for stopping by, Deborah, and for lending me Dora (Deborah) and the Scaredy Cats!
Thank you for having me on your lovely blog and for dedicating a poem to us. I wouldn’t be surprised if, sooner or later, you also appear in my studio in the form of a beautiful ceramic poetess!

Aw, shucks…that would be swell!


Video Location: Abandoned stone house in a pine wood, Baratti, Italy.

See more poems in my poetry video library. 
“Scaredy Cats” Copyright © 2012 Renée LaTulippe