The World’s Only Cat And Mouse Armorer Creates Tiny Metal Masterpieces

Calgary-based sculptor Jeff de Boer has made a career out of creating intricate metal suits of armor for cats and mice.

“It all started with a mouse,” Jeff de Boer recalls. He was looking for a creative way to combine his longtime passion for medieval armor with his trade as a jeweler and one day it simply dawned on him – he could make a tiny suit of armor for a mouse. It seemed like an interesting idea at the time, but he had no idea he would go on to become known as the world’s first and only animal armorer and create over 500 suits of armor for mice and cats.

Photo: Jeff de Boer/Facebook

Even today, Jeff de Boer remembers the effect of seeing his first suit of armor at age five had on him. He was mesmerized and intrigued by it, wanting to know how it was made and for what purpose. This passion for armor stuck with him, and he actually made his first suit of human armor in high school. But his major in jewelry making made him think of things on a much smaller scale.


De Boer’s first mouse armor apparently turned out much better than he thought, because he kept on making more suits, influenced by various historical styles, from the Japanese samurai to the Islamic chainmail. But as time went by, he realized he needed an antagonist for his armored mice to really stir people’s imagination. And that’s when he started making cat armor.


The Canadian artist stresses that his painstakingly detailed creations are not meant to be worn by actual animals. In fact, the only time when he accepted to make one of his armor for a live cat, things didn’t turn out too well. The producers of a Japanese game show brought in a ‘stunt cat’ that was allegedly used to wearing clothes, but they ended up with a very large cat in a small suit of armor. Since then, he has never taken commissions for wearable suits of animal armor.


So who does Jeff de Boer make all these suits of mouse and cat armor for? Well, his clients almost always have a deep interest in history and art. Many have clear requests that he use elements of various historical armor styles, like the Roman gladiators, Polish Hussars, the Ottomans, Japanese samurai, etc.


Since he is the first and, so far, only cat and mouse armorer in the world, Jeff de Boer makes all the necessary parts, and some of the tools, required for his unique sets of armor. Each one contains anywhere from 500 to 300 individual pieces and requires dozens of hours to complete. Most are crafted from nickel, steel, or brass.


Although everyone is free to build their own stories around these intricate sets of armor, for Jeff de Boer himself the analogy is that the cats represent the power of the world of fine art with its multi-million artworks, while the mice represent the artisans who struggle to keep their craft alive.

via National Geographic

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