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

Glamourpuss (b.28 November 2009)

Meet the sultry Glamourpuss. Commissioned by Kate, aka Glamourpuss Jewellery, at the Bruntcliffe School Christmas Fair last weekend, Glamourpuss has a silky smooth, sparkling white coat, with a lovely pink tiara adorned with silver and pink jewels.

An alluring pink feather boa curls round her neck, and she has the sweetest pink court shoes in which to dance away the night. She stands 5.5cm tall, and with a flutter of her eyelashes, Glamourpuss makes every red blooded Rainbow Cat go weak at the knees!

Santa Cat Tree Decorations (b.23 November 2009)

The first of my Christmas tree decorations! I've been meaning to convert a few of my designs for a while now, and I was prompted into action by a commission request through Etsy from Sarah in California (many thanks, Sarah!)

Although I toyed with the idea of changing the shape of the Santa hat so that the ribbon could be fed through it, in the end, I opted to keep the standard shape and add a top pin (known as a screw eye peg). The hardest part was pushing the top pin into the Santa Cat - it just seemed so harsh! I added a small dab of liquid polymer clay to seal the pin in place, and after curing and varnishing, I added a generous length of thin red ribbon, loosely tied at the top so that the length can be adjusted as necessary.
I went on to make up another three Santa Cat Tree Decorations, and I'll be listing them online when I get the chance. In the meantime, if you want to order any, just get in touch.

I've also received a commission to make up Santa Piglings, so that's the next on my list, after some Wee Robin decorations!

Anniversary Cats (b.22 November 2009)

Thanks to Julia for commission this sweet couple of cats for her anniversary on 27 November. I met her at the Made-It Craft Fair in Wetherby on 21 November, and she wanted something special and quirky to give to her husband. She came up with this design based on their relationship, and I had a lot of fun deciding how to do the hair.

I've been wanting to try out a cat with long hair for a while now - ever since I woke up thinking about doing a Mermaid Cat in fact! (Watch this space - this will happen one day!) I used a very thin extruded clay and applied long strands of it to the top of the head - I felt like a hairdresser. To keep the femine theme going, I didn't add on any 'chop dots' - small dots on the cheeks to signify whiskers.

(To digress briefly on this point, I am in two minds about chop dots. I think that not having them gives a softer more kitten-y impression, but that might just be me. Any thoughts on this? I'm going through a phase of not putting chop dots on my normal cats (I made up half a dozen last night after the craft fair) so I'm going to see what response I get next weekend at Castle Howard.)

The short spikey blond hair for the male cat was made by cutting very small lengths of yellow clay, applying liquid polymer clay to the end of each strand, and then placing it on the head. This has made the hair extremely strong and robust.

More commissions are coming in thick and fast - it's fantastic! It really gives me a chance to try new things, so please do get in touch if you have any particular requests!

Horses and Wee Horses (b.20 November 2009)

(Drum roll please...) Ladies and gentlemen, I'm proud to introduce the latest addition to the Wee Beastie range - Horse and Wee Horse!

As a result of a commission from Nicky at the Yorkshire Craft Fair in York on 7/8 November (thanks Nicky!), I returned once more to the equine realms. Those avid readers of this blog will be aware that I have previously experimented with Wee Horse back in July (click here for the post), but I didn't take the design any further.

Until now, that is!

I have been quite at home with Wee Sheep and Wee Highland Cows, using simple facial features and extruded clay for hair to good effect. So I decided to apply the same principle to Horse and Wee Horse. I applied a thin oval of pale clay to the lower portion of the face for the nose, and then pressed in two exaggerated nostrils. Then, after faffing about with cutters for the ear shapes, I found a much niftier and simpler way by taking a small blob of clay and pressing the tip of the clay shaper into it (I use a similar technique to shape cats' ears). After applying the ears to the head with liquid polymer clay, the head is then attached to the body, again with liquid clay (what did I ever do before liquid polymer clay?!)

Another refinement is the inclusion of a small disc of black clay to the bottom of the horse to give an impression of hooves (or pale clay in the case of the palomino horses).

Next came the fun part! I extruded some clay and applied it to the head and neck to create a mane. I built up quite a number of layers, much more than the other Wee Beasties, which gives a more natural feel to it. Varying the length of each strand also helped.

The tail was equally fun to do - to keep the shape of the tail, I placed three strands next to each other, and then laid more strands on top of them, spreading some of them out to the side. Because no strands stand proud of the body, it creates a robust tail, although it looks fairly fragile.

To complete Nicky's commission, I made up a paddock for the family of four horses. I first made one of these last month for display at my first craft fair - it was a real Blue Peter effort, and I had lots of fun creating fencing out of small lollypop sticks and lots of sticky backed plastic! I think the Horse Family looks rather at home in their paddock which measures 13cm (w) x 11cm (d) x 7cm (h). 

I'll be listing Horses and Wee Horses on Folksy soon, and they made their debut at the Made-It Craft Fair in Wetherby on 21 November 2009.

Bearskin Cat (b.20 November 2009)

The latest addition to the Quernus Regiment has arrived! Bearskin Cat was commissioned by my good friend Jo, to join his friends Desert Army Cat and Jungle Army Cat.

Bearskin Cat has a lovely black furry hat courtesy of a large black pom pom trimmed within an inch of its life. (Take it from me when I say that trimmed black pom pom fluff goes EVERYWHERE.)

Bearskin Cat's hat is secured in place by a smart silver chain, and his uniform is trimmed with gold braid, with a smart gold buckle. His wee cat ears are hidden underneath the bearskin hat. His uniform is completed by a pair of very shiny black boots.
Bearskin Cat was made from a core of black clay, around which I wrapped a thinly rolled sheet of red clay. To make the bearskin hat sit snugly on his head, I had to remove the head (sorry), and leave a flat surface to glue down the  black pom pom. For the chain, I took a short length of a small silver chain and attached each end to the flat surface, hooking it under the chin. The black collar (trimmed with a very thinly rolled log of gold clay) helps to 'join' the hat and body.
He stands nearly 5cm tall to the top of his hat, so he's a little short to take part in next year's Trooping the Colour.

Green Apple Cats (b.19 November 2009)

Inspired by the recent commission order from Mickey of The Green Apple eco and ethical online shop, and after the success of Pumpkin Cat, I tried out a couple of Green Apple Cats last night. Made from the appropriately named Granny Smith Sculpey III clay, the larger one measures 3cm wide x 3.5cm tall. The smaller one measures 2.5cm wide by 3cm.

Watch this space for more fruit and veg inspired cats!

Barrister Cat (b.17 November 2009)

Well, it had to happen one day. All that legal training has seeped into my creativity, and I could resist no longer.

And so, my learned friends, may it please the Court to call Barrister Cat to the stand. He has been in my imagination for some time now, and after reminding myself of how a barrister's wig is constructed, I decided to use two different thicknesses of extruded white clay to create it. I also played around with doing a full white collar (they tend to have starched points too), but in the end, less was definitely more.

Barrister Cat stands at about 4cm tall, and after straying into the realms of larger cats (for example the Army Cats seemed to want to be bigger than usual), this was a welcome to return to daintier proportions. The most challenging part of the design was keeping the white clay pristine when it was brought into contact with the black clay - there wasn't much room for trial and error (pun entirely intended)!

I am toying with the idea of a Judge Cat with red robes and a more elaborate wig, and that has also got me thinking about period character cats - as always, watch this space!

Christmas Elf Cats (b.15 November 2009)

As part of the commission order from Mickey of The Green Apple eco-shop, I've made up a couple of different Christmas Elf Cats, experimenting with different techniques. The jury's out on which one I prefer - I think they're both very sweet!

And here's the line of up all the commissions I've made for Mickey...

AC/DC Cats (b.15 November 2009)

After taking a short break from their hectic world tour, Brian Johnson and Angus Young of AC/DC have agreed to give a rare interview, to the great excitement of their biggest fan, Mickey of The Green Apple shop.

Both Brian and Angus stand about 4cm tall. Brian, a lovely ginger cat with a swirl of gold to reflect his rockstar status, is wearing his trademark black cap and black vest with the band name picked out in red on the front. Angus, always eager to don his iconic choolboy uniform, manages to look much younger than his actual age.
(As you might have gathered, I had a lot of fun making these two kitties - thanks Mickey!)

Army Cats (b.15 November 2009)

At the Made-It Craft Fair in Harrogate on Saturday, I met Diane and her sister, and they asked me to make up some military felines - an Army Cadet Cat (with black beret on the right), and a Royal Marines Cat (with green beret). And here they are

Having done a bit of internet research, it felt important for them to have badges on their berets, so after a bit of painstaking cutting and shaping, both Cats are now proudly sporting smart gold and silver badges!

Each Army Cat stands about 5cm tall. I tried a new technique to make the camouflage colour, which I think has worked out very well. I made up small amounts of four colours, and then tore them up into small random pieces. I then scooped up all the pieces into a ball, making sure no two colours were next to each other, and rolled it around a few times. The resultant slices were more random and less stripey than the early Jungle Army Cat, and I've also included more greens and browns, rather than relying too much on beige and fawn colours.

So these two will be shipped off to Hessay in York tomorrow, and I'm sure they'll whip Diane and her sister into shape in no time at all! In the meantime, I was so pleased with the camouflage effect that I made up another Jungle Army Cat for my friend Jo - and here he is!

Santa Cat with Beard & Ninja Cat (b.9 November 2009)

I'm having a great time making up a commission order from Mickey (check out her fantastic eco shop - The Green Apple), who is mad about cats! Here are the first couple of kitties made to her specification - this Santa Cat sports a fluffy white beard, and Ninja Cat is definitely ready for action!

More updates to follow - watch out for Christmas Elf Cat, Pirate Cat, and (I'm really looking forward to doing these!) AC/DC Cats in the shape of Brian Johnson and Angus Young!

Thanks are also due to Mickey for her fab idea to do a Christmas Kitten Nativity scene - work due to start on this shortly!

Jungle Army Cat (b.9 November 2009)

You can just about spot this well camouflaged Jungle Army Cat, captured here as he was out on manoeuvres in my back garden.

Made as part of a commission for my good friend Jo, Jungle Army Cat sports a smart black beret and shiny black boots, with matching belt. He stands 5cm tall, and nearly 3cm wide.

His flak jacket is made from cane slices made up by roughly mashing together four different colours.

Jungle Army Cat is seen on the right with his buddy, Desert Army Cat.

Santa Cats, Bobble Hat Cats and Rainbow Scarf Cats (b.4 November 2009)

I've been burning the midnight oil this past week getting more stock prepared for this weekend, and another three Santa Cats have materialised along the way! These are just so much fun to make - choosing the right colours of clay, and then mixing them until I'm happy with the resultant swirly patterns, which are always unpredictable! A coat of varnish really does help to bring out the pattern - it's like wetting a pebble on the beach, particularly with the darker clays like the centre cat here.

As well as Santa Cats, more Bobble Hat Cats and Rainbow Scarf Cats (twins no less!) have also joined the family:

One of the Rainbow Scarf Cats is winging its way to Blissknits as we speak!

Quernus Crafts' Christmas Craft Fairs 2009

I now have all craft fairs confirmed between now and Christmas, so here are all the details:

7 & 8 November 10am-5pm (both days)
Christmas Craft Fair
St Williams College, York YO1 7JF (close to the Minster)

14 November, 10-4.30pm
Made-It Craft Fair, Wesley Chapel, Oxford Street, Harrogate HG1 1PP

21 November 2009, 10-4.30pm
Made-It Craft Fair, Wetherby Town Hall, Market Place, Wetherby LS22 6NE

22 November 2009, 1-4pm
Arts & Crafts Fair, Bruntcliffe School, Bruntcliffe Lane, Morley, Leeds LS27 0LZ

29 November 2009, 10-5pm
Artsmix Christmas Contemporary Arts Market, Castle Howard, York YO60 7DA

6 December 2009, 11-4pm
Artsmix Christmas Market @ The Loft, Cross York Street, Leeds LS2 7EE

12 December 2009, 10-4pm
Ilkley Arts Market, Riddings Hall, Riddings Road, Ilkley SL29 9LU

20 December 2009, 11-4pm
Artsmix Christmas Market @ The Loft, Cross York Street, Leeds, LS29 9LU

Phew!! Hope to see you there!

Millefiori Cats (b.1 November 2009)

Having spent quite a lot of time over the weekend working on commissions, and having been inspired by Blissknits' request for a Small Bobble Hat Millefiori Cat, on Sunday I decided to try out some new millefiori techniques.

I love the effect achieved the Skinner blend method, where two or more colours are blended together by repeated rolling through a pasta machine in one direction, creating an airbrushed blend of the colours. I wanted to incorporate this into a flower cane, and for the purple cats on the right, I started by making the petals from a Skinner cane made from white and fuschia clay. I made a 'plug' by rolling out the Skinner blend sheet into a very long, thin sheet, and then folding that using a concertina-type movement, ie folding the long sheet back on itself every 3cm or so. This created a stack of clay shading from white to fuschia. I formed this into petal shapes, with the white parts closest to the centre of the flower. A clay log core, along with deep purple segments between the petals, completed the cane.

This cane worked well with large flowers, but the detail was lost when I reduced the cane down to create the cat on the right. I didn't use a thin sheet of white clay to define each petal, and that's something I intend to experiment with soon.

Having tried a flower cane with a Skinner plug, I wanted to try more geometric shapes. For this pink cat, I made another Skinner plug using the concertina method, but instead of shaping the stack ito a petal, I cut it in half lengthwise, and placed the two halves together, white section to white section. I then cut this into four pieces, and placed them together into a parquet effect. I applied thin slices of this square cane to a core of scray clay, and then blended them on in the usual way. I love the three dimensional ribbon effect achieved by the gradated colours.

I tried this technique out with blue, and created a couple of different effects. The colours in the cane I used for the middle cat, for example, were not as well-defined as in the cat on the right, but it still works as a concept, just in a slightly different way.

For the blue cat on the left hand side, I created him by using the scrap clay from Skinner blocks, I mashed it about a bit, rolled it out into a large large, and then cut that log into four segments lengthwise. I reversed each segment and reassembled the log, which created a really abstract pattern, not at all like the ones created by twisting and rolling colours together. I think the three cats look rather fine together.

I went back to making a flower cane after this, with the aim of making up Blissknits' cat. I deliberately chose a very simple flower shape, and retained the petal definition with a thin sheet of white clay wrapped around each petal. Using a slice of a large cane, as in the left hand picture, is quite tricky when trying to make sure all the flowers are intact, and for this kitten (who is the big brother of Blissknits' Small Bobble Hat Scarf), I used slices from a smaller cane to 'fill in the blanks'.

Those sharp-sighted amongst you will notice that this cane is exactly the same as the same as the one used for Blissknits' commision. For this tall cat, I used a large cane, and for the small cat to the right, I applied random slices from a small cane.

Army Cat (b.1 November 2009)

Atten-shun!! Army Cat reporting for duty, suh!

Sporting the latest in desert wear, which no discerning Army Cat would be seen without, this rather chubby colonel is ready for anything - from his desert boots, to his utility belt, right up to his matching helmet.

I tried a new technique for making the patterned body based on my observations of how scrap clay behaved when I was using it for core. I conditioned several small balls of clay (champagne, tan, brown, etc.) and then randomly mashed them together into a ball, rolled it out a few times, mashed it again, and then rolled it into a large log. The slices taken from this log resulted in a random camouflage pattern, and were much easier to apply to the clay core than the normal millefiori slices. Once applied, I rolled the core in my hands to blend the slices, and this helped randomise the pattern even more.

The desert boots were made by placing two pieces of the usual paw shape on top of each other, and then rounding the edges. The helmet was a little trickier, as I had to hollow out a hemisphere to make it look more as though he was wearing it, rather than half a ball of clay perched on his head.

Watch this space for jungle Army cat, and work has also started on Bearskin Cat, who is aiming to take part in next year's Trooping the Colour!

Thanks to my good friend, Jo Howes, for sparking this rather militaristic turn of events with her commissions (appropriately named in this instance!)

Cozy Reindeer Cats (b.1 November 2009)

After the domestication of the first Reindeer Cat a few days ago, a herd has now started to gather. However, they are really feeling the cold in Leeds, as they're not used to this blustery weather, so they decided to wrap up warmly for the duration of their stay.

Tune in to watch the herd grows bigger as Christmas approaches...