A friend of mine who is of the Egyptological persuasion (I promise, I do have a few friends who are not of the Egyptological persuasion) is going away for work and I thought this would be a wonderful opportunity to make an amigurumi gift and try something a little bit new.
People familiar with ancient Egypt will know that Egyptian faience (to distinguish it from later Italian faience) was an extremely popular substance for making beads, amulets, small figurines, scarabs, dishes, tiles, and a wide variety of other things. It is essentially crushed/powdered quartz or sand and a small amount of silica lime held together with various binding agents, worked, molded, or otherwise formed and then glazed, either through application or occasionally a self-glaze produced during firing. As the object was heated, the surface vitrified, producing a shiny, glassy finish. Colors were achieved typically through the inclusion of mineral salts - copper being the most popular and well known and producing the vibrant blue-green or turquoise most commonly associated with Egyptian faience, but other colors also appear.
Anyway, when I started making amigurumi I thought that making "faience" amigurumi would be really fun, especially as a lot of the smaller Egyptian faience pieces are often of animals and are frequently absolutely adorable. "William" the faience hippo at the Metropolitan Museum of Art is a classic example.
Often, as is the case with William, faience objects were painted in black often with floral/vegetation motifs.
This little cat here represents one of my first real attempts at a "faience" amigurumi. She does not have the lovely black motifs as I'm still working on methods of achieving this that don't necessarily involve embroidery (my hands and extensive embroidery do not mix well - cramping and lasting pain are usually the result). I've fiddled with paints, but I'm still working on an application method that will work. Faience Kitty's eyelashes are actually painted, though, and I like how they turned out, so I may try to apply those lessons to later attempts. However, I'm fairly proud of this little kitty. My friend had to foster her own kitty while she's away, so she now has Faience Kitty for company.
I wrote the pattern myself and I think it needs some tweaking, but I'm pleased overall with the result. I'm especially fond of the earring - there are some artistic examples of ancient Egyptian cats with pierced ears. I was trying to go for a seated pose like most of the statues and figurines of cats I'm familiar with - I'm not sure how well I did there. And she's posing, appropriately, with our papyrus plants in the background in these photos my husband was kind enough to take.