My new website can be found at http://www.quernuscrafts.co.uk/

The Invasion Begins...

There are only a few days to go before my first craft fair, so I decided to set out all the wee creatures I've been making over recent weeks. And here they are! I counted 103 in total. 103! It sounds like an awful lot, but how come they all fit onto an A3 foam sheet?!

There are more on the way, and of course I have the cards to sell too, but I believe I'll be rather busy these next few days...

Rainbow Cats Galore! (b.29 September 2009)

I spent the whole day making Rainbow Cats! I just had a blast - seeing what I could come up with next was just great fun!

I focused primarily on reds and citrus colours, and played around with dots and hearts. By rolling out the 'dot' colour very thinly, this helps to avoid distorting the shape when it's applied to the clay core.

You'll notice a few more Roly Poly Rainbow Cats - these wee balls of cuteness are just lovely, and I like having three different sizes of Rainbow Cat. I also made eight standard Rainbow Cats (bottom right picture) - after the Owls of the day before, it was like coming home!

Owls (b.28 September 2009)

So here was an interesting experiment. I've been thinking about owls for quite a while now, and so I ended up devoting the best part of a day seeing what worked, and more frequently, what didn't. I see these very much as a work in progress. I love the simple shape, and using a pen lid works well to define the eyes. This is a departure from my usual style, although I've kept the beads for eyes, and there's something about the simplicity of the shape which really appeals.

I used a cutter to make the breast markings, and you'll also see these markings on the contrasting wings. I had originally intended to have the beaks sticking out more perpendicularly, but at the last minute, I decided to smoothe them down. I'll play around with that some more later. The large owl is 2.5cm tall and 3cm wide. The smaller owls are 2cm x 2cm.

I had a go at some blue owls too (the rainbow theme is pretty strong with me - it you're going for stylised, why not go the whole hog?!) I mixed some pale blue clay, and used the dark blue clay to create the wings and beak to have a contrasting colour. And as I had a scrap of the dark blue clay left, I made a Wee Owl just to see how he would turn out. And do you know, I think he's my favourite one! He measures 1.5cm x 1.5cm, and instead of adding wings, I used a cutter to create feather-type markings. Again, it's the simplicity of the shape that appeals, but I don't think these wee fellow will be gracing the craft fairs any time soon! Would be interested to hear what people think of this new experiment.

Small Turquoise Rainbow Cat (b.28 September 2009)

I so enjoy making Rainbow cats! And for this wee mite, I used the clay left over from the Spotty Millefiori Cats, and I love the wonderful abstract swirls created from mixing the blue and green colours together. A coat of satin varnish really helps to highlight the abstract colours and patterns. He'll be joining me at my first craft fair on Sunday.

I've got lots more ideas up my sleeve for adding to the ever-growing army of Rainbow Cats, and I also want to play around more with some card ideas.

Yesterday (28 September), I also spent some time experimenting with Owls, and I'll be posting more about them shortly. Definitely a work in progress!

Craft Fair at the Treehouse Cafe, Bradford - 4 October 2009

I found out today that this is officially the first craft fair I'm appearing at! You might recognise the Small Strawberry Rainbow Cat in the bottom left hand corner!
The craft fair has been organised by Catriona Simons (aka MrsSewandSew of Folksy.com).

Treehouse Cafe
2 Ashfield (opposite the University)
Free admission

Click here to see full details on Facebook. Hope you can make it!

More Wee Sheep and Wee Highland Cows (b.27 September 2009)

Finally got back to crafting after nearly a 2 week break - although Toronto was incredible, it was good to get back in the saddle again!

So I decided to spend a day with extruded clay and ended up with more Wee Beasties - Wee Highland Cows and Wee Sheep to be precise. These will be added to the inventory of stock for the upcoming craft fairs I'm going to.

I am very fond of the Wee Highland Cows - they are very simply made, although there are a bit time-consuming. Both Highland Cows and Sheep are made by the same method.  I roll out a small ball of terracotta polymer clay (or white for the sheep), and then attach a flattened piece of clay for the head. The horns and ears are attached at this stage. Then, I extrude lengths of terracotta or white clay, and attach each strand individually, leaving the strands for the face until last. The strands are usually at least two deep to make sure there are no gaps showing. The nostrils complete the look, and I create these using a large gauge knitting needle.

In between making these Wee Beasties, I experimented with a prototype Wee Owl - I'll be posting more about this soon.

Ilkley Arts Market - Saturday 10 October 2009, Riddings Hall, Ilkley

Another date for your diary! I've booked up to do another craft fair on 10 October 2009 in Ilkley. This one's organised by the Keighley Arts Factory and the indefatigable Jo Whitehead, aka Glassprimitif - click here to check out her shop on Folksy.com. I'm looking forward to it very much - it is a new venture for the Keighley Arts Factory, and I'm excited about being involved in this from the start.

I'll be at the Pudsey Arts & Crafts Market the next day on Sunday 11 October, so hopefully I'll see you one of these days, if not both!

I'm now getting together a fair bit of stock, and when I get back from Canada, I'll be working flat out. My tally so far is 58 cards, 32 Piglings and 43 Cats of varying hues. The Cats all live on the piano just now (see below) - they make quite a spectacle! I'll be making more Wee Sheep and Wee Highland Cows, as well as a number of the Shaggy Dogs. If anyone has any other suggestions about what you'd like to see at the fairs, let me know!

Small Spotty Millefiori Cat & Roly Poly Spotty Millefiori Cat (b.14 September 2009)

By 7pm , having been working on cats for 12 hours, I was getting a bit wired. So I really pulled the stops out and experimented with a spotty cane technique with turquoise and bright green!

I made the cane by wrapping a thin log of green with a thick rolled out piece of clay (making a bullseye cane). After reducing that down a bit, I cut the log into five equal segments and placed them together. I decided not to reduce them down any further, and so then started cutting thin slices and positioning them onto the clay core. It was easy to blend the slices because the pattern was so random.

When I get back from Canada, I'll try a number of different colours  with this technique - I think this could work for rainbow bullseye canes, and I'd also like to experiment with using Skinner blends (where different colours blend into each other).

The Roly Poly Cat was fun to make with the rest of the cane, but I'll need to remember to make the core clay smaller because the slices add to the overall size of the cat.

The Small Spotty Millefiori Cat stands 4cm tall and 3cm wide, and the Roly Poly Cat 2.5cm tall and nearly 3cm wide.

Tall Pink Flower Millefiori Cat (b.14 September 2009)

This kitten reminds me of one of the very first Millefiori Cats I made (see Tall Purple Millefiori Cat), although he is a little fatter. He's nearly 4.5cm tall and about 3cm wide.

I wasn't happy with the flower cane I made - the leaves were a bit too rectangular for my liking. I was about to recycle the cane and try again when I thought I'd see what the flowers would look like reduced down and put in a cluster. And this is the result!  I think the flowers look a bit like stars, and the pale pink and lilac combination is rather nice.

Tall Love Heart Millefiori Cat (b.14 September 2009)

With the love heart cane I made first thing in the morning, I made this Tall Millefiori Cat. He's actually the largest cat I've made so far, standing at 6cm tall and 2.5cm wide. I was pleased with how the love hearts turned out when slicing the cane, but it was fiddly work to keep them from becoming too distorted when blending the slices over the clay core.

He's a fine looking cat for all that, although I think I achieved pretty much the same effect with less work by using the inlay technique (see Tall Love Cat).

Rainbow Cats (b.14 September 2009)

After spending nearly a week on making cards (somehow I managed to produce nearly 60 cards!), today I returned to all things feline. I got up at 7am, and after assembling a few of the abstract blue cards, I got stuck in. I'm off to Canada on 16 September for just over a week, so I wanted to get as much crafting in as possible before I went.

I started off with making up a heart cane, with a pale pink heart with a darker pink surround. After making this, I let it rest whilst I had a go at a new shape - the Roly Poly Rainbow Cat! These wee mites are a bit smaller than the Small Rainbow Cats (they measure 2.5cm tall and wide) and are completely round in shape. They are reminiscent of the first Wee Cat I made back in July, but have much more of what has become my standard 'Rainbow Cat' look. They're fun to make, and I'll add them to the range on offer at the upcoming craft fairs.

Next up, I mixed up some colours and came up with some rather luscious icecream-coloured Small Rainbow Cats. I love that they each have their own expression!

I also added to the standard Rainbow Cat range, focusing more on greens, blues and purples. There are now 11 colours from the rainbow spectrum, and I think they all look very sweet together! I recently got some gorgeous new colours from the Sculpey III range (on sale from Craftwise in Leeds - it's a great shop), so when I get back from Canada, I'll be making more on the red/orange side.

Winter Trees (8 September 2009)

Again with the trees! I am pretty obsessed with trees. They are incredible beings with so much grace, beauty and natural intelligence. And so I keep returning to creating them, and this is my latest idea.

This reminds me very much of Wedgewood pottery, with the clean white strands of white clay upon the cool lilac background. I love the depth achieved by bundling a number of strands together, and they flow to form both the roots and the branches. The panel measures 3.5cm by 6cm.

I tried a slightly simpler and smaller version with the red background, which has a more stylised feel to it than the organic flow of the purple one. This panel measures 3cm x 4cm.
I will be working with tree designs as I go forwards - it really is a recurring theme for me, and there so much scope for further ideas.

Turquoise Leaf Cards (8 September 2009)

These leaf designs were inspired by a gorgeous silver leaf pendant I bought on Folksy.com from Silver Moss Jewellery Designs - check out her shop at www.folksy.com/shops/silvermoss. I'm also following her blog - click here for more info. Definitely worth a look!

In this series, there are two A6 cards and three A7 cards. I'm looking forward to experimenting more with the simple and fluid lines of this design.

The last designs came about through the happy accident of tidying up some of the leftover strands and rolling out the clay. I love the thrill of not knowing whether the next pass of the roller will through out an amazing design, or just mush!

Turquoise Window Cards (8 September 2009)

I had lots of fun playing around with the idea of creating a picture within a picture. I did think about using an aperture card and embedding the frame within that, but unfortunately the strands are a bit too delicate for that. Still, I think this the design works well as it stands.

This first picture reminds me of a portcullis. I created a loose woven effect by laying the strands in order, first length ways and then sideways. This design is more suited as a picture because it's so fragile, and so my next task is to mount it using a complimentary border of jade/slate green.

This design looks like a shuttered blind. I simply cut out the frame, turned it over, and laid strands of clay close together across the back. For the extruded clay, I roughly mixed the three colours I had been working with to create a variagated effect.

This last design was made by randomly placing strands around the frame and building it up until it looked like a game of Kerplunk at an advanced stage as seen from above!

Some of my other experiments with these frames weren't quite so successful. The less said about the Shreddie the better...

Turquoise on Black Abstract Cards (8 September 2009)

The lovely jade green card I've used to mount these panels compliments the extruded clay perfectly! Having the black clay as the background colour really makes the strands stand out. I have only varnished the background, which also helps to emphasise the contrast.

These three panels were created by laying several strands of clay on black, and then cutting them into three panels. Turning the middle panel on its side breaks up the lines and creates an interesting hiatus to the flow.

I am very fond of the stylised hearts, with the constrasting colour to create a 3-D effect. And because each strand is laid on by hand, no two hearts are the same, and the scope for variation with colour is endless.

Sea Blue Abstract Cards (8 September 2009)

After making the Rose Blush cards, I really wanted to try out blues and greens. So I took some time to mix several shades, extruded several strands, and then spent several hours playing around, trying out lots of different things, and generally having a really great time!

So great in fact, that I stayed up into the wee small hours just so I could "try one more thing". As a result, I made well over 30 panels, and I now have a wide range of lovely cards! Most of panels fall within a small number of groups, so I'll do a post for each group.

This first group of panels involves undulating strands of shades of over a dark slate green/blue background and is reminiscent of Celtic knotwork. There is a range of different styles and subtle shades, and the strands have both been left proud and rolled into the panel.

Rose Blush Abstract Cards (8 September 2009)

After the success of the initial venturing forth into abstract panels, I played around with some different colours. And this was the start of a very long day for me - I was up at 6am, cup of tea in hand, and I started mixing colours to see what came up!

I love how these panels have turned out - they look like ceramic or terracotta. I achieved this by rolling out very pale clay (white and pale beige), then putting a dark pink/red over it and rolling them both together. This resulted in the darker colour becoming stretched which thinned out the pigment, allowing the white to shine through beneath. Contrasting strands of deep rose and pink completes the look.
As I mixed the clay after making each panel, the colours have subtly changed, resulting in truly unique colours and designs. Going forward, I intend to  mount most of the panels on cards, and then select a few of the best panels to mount on board to selling as ready-to-frame pictures. Keep an eye out for these cards going on sale in my online shops.
There are 10 cards in this range - eight are A6, with panels measuring 3cm x 3cm, and two are A7 size with panels measuring 2cm x 2cm. I have mounted the panels on a pale salmon pink card, which really sets off the rich colours of the panels. The cards come with white envelopes.

The Ultimate Rainbow Cat (b.7 September 2009)

After my rainbow cards extravaganza, I decided to make the Ultimate Rainbow Cat to celebrate! I made this wee fellow by using the scrap clay left over from the rainbow cards, and then rolling them into a clay core and shaping it as normal. As a result, his stripes are a bit random and unpredictable!

He stands 3.5cm tall and 2.5cm wide. He's finished off with a lovely coat of satin varnish.

I'm rather pleased with the way he turned out, so I'm going to make a limited number of these cats for the craft fair.

And the great news is that this particularly unique Ultimate Rainbow Cat is now on sale at my online shops - click here for Folksy.com and here for Etsy.com!

Bright Rainbow Cards (6 September 2009)

Making these cards really took me back to my childhood.  I have always loved rainbows, to the extent that I remember keeping a C&A bag for ages because it had a rainbow stripe down the side. I had even blu-tacked on my bedroom door (and I should point out that I was about 10 at the time) a handmade paper name plate in rainbow colours, with "RLE" after it - Rainbow Lover Extraordinaire. Of course.

With the exception of the two small cards, I used a thicker extruded clay to make the rainbow stripes. This gives a lovely chunky feel, complimented by the bright colours of the card. I have lightly rolled out all the rainbows except the one on the green card - I wanted to preserve a more stylised feel, and I think it looks like water pouring out from an unseen tap.

The half-hoop rainbows (without clouds) are just over 4.5cm in diameter. The upright rainbow is 4cm tall, and the large double-clouded rainbow 8cm wide in total.

For the two small blue cards, I used the thinner extruded clay used for the Black Rainbow designs. The designs are just over 3cm wide.

The full range of Rainbow cards is now available to buy at both Folksy.com and Etsy. com.

Small Black Rainbow Cards (6 September 2009)

These little cards are A7 size - the sort of size you see in wedding invitations. They are the perfect size for these small panels, measuring 2cm x 2cm.
For these designs, I laid out a long length of rainbow strands on the background clay, rolled them lightly to incorporate them into the background (which distorts the lines slightly), and then cut out three squares to create these panels.
I created a similar effect in the cards on the left using thin slices taken from the thicker rainbow strands. I placed the tiny circles randomly on black clay, rolled them in, and then cut out the panels. I think they look like streams of tiny rainbow bubbles.

Black Rainbow Panels (6 September 2009)

I woke up on Sunday morning at 6am after dreaming of rainbows all night. So what choice did I have but to get up and make some rainbows!
Having loved the effect of bright colours against a black background, I started from there. I experimented with the prism effect of splitting the colours. On the right hand panel (which measures 4cm x 4cm), I left the 'split' strands lying on top of the background, and rolled the rainbow stripe into the clay to produce a two-level effect. It puts me in mind of crossing the plasma streams in Ghostbusters.
For the panels on the white cards, I had had this idea in my mind for a number of months. In fact, I had tried to create this effect using rainbow-coloured bamboo poles and a large black frame from IKEA several months ago, but without much success.
I cut out the black frames by using two sizes of square cutters, and then I laid out the rainbow strands across the back of each frame and attached them using liquid polymer clay. I only varnished the frames, leaving the rainbow stripes untouched. The frames don't have backs to them, so you can see the white card through the rainbow stripes. These panels measure 3cm x 3cm.