‘The cat lady’ crafted quirky creatures
Solveig Cox, a Northern Virginia potter and ceramist who was known in the artistic community as “the cat lady” for her whimsical ceramics of cats on plates, cats driving cars, cats in bed, cat bowls, cat trays, cat vases, cat teacups, cat soap dishes, cat cookie jars, and cat birdbaths, died March 13 at a memory care unit in Northampton, Mass. She was 86.
The cause was dementia, said a daughter, J. Alden Cox.
For five decades, Mrs. Cox was a self-employed potter with studios at her home in the Hollin Hills community in the Alexandria section of Fairfax County, Va., and at Alexandria’s waterfront Torpedo Factory, which was converted into an arts center in the 1970s.
She learned her craft in Munich, where her husband was posted as a clandestine operative of the CIA under an Army officer’s cover in the late 1950s. They then settled in Northern Virginia, and Mrs. Cox began firing her own work. Within a decade, her pottery was selling in more than 100 shops.
Her husband, his CIA cover having been blown in Germany, was assigned to a desk job at CIA headquarters in Langley, Va. He retired, leaving the spy business for a new career helping market his wife’s pottery.
They would collaborate on cat-themed furniture. Mrs. Cox’s drawings would appear on Tshirts, dresses, calendars, daybooks, cards, and tote bags, always with a touch of humor and whimsy. On occasion she experimented with other media, glass blowing, for example, but lighthearted pottery was mostly what she was known for. Her works were sold nationally.
Solveig Peterson was born in New York City on Feb. 3, 1931. Her father was a radio producer, and her mother, an immigrant from Hungary, was a couture designer. As a child, she and her sister modeled children’s clothing. They lived in the city and spent weekends at a goat farm.
She attended Bennington College in Vermont.
Her husband of 57 years, Wendell Cox, died 2009. Five years later, Mrs. Cox moved to Northampton from Alexandria.
Survivors include her daughter, of Amherst, Mass., and a son, David M. Cox of Los Osos, Calif.
The shapes and movements of Mrs. Cox’s own pets, she said, were what inspired her to be able to see the “endless artistic potential in cats.” One of the better known of her works is a black-and-white cat driving a car that is shaped like a red mouse, complete with a tail and tires.
It’s called “Meals on Wheels.”
Solveig Cox, a Northern Virginia potter and ceramist, died March 13 in Northampton, Mass. She was inspired by her own pets.