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

Small Bobble Hat Millefiori Cat (b.31 October 2009)

Thanks so much to Sharon (aka Blissknits - creator of all gorgeous things knitted, crocheted and stitched - have a look at her blog for more info) for commissioning this Small Millefiori Cat complete with hat and scarf!

I spent a blissful day yesterday working with canes - I haven't returned to them for a while now, and I wanted to experiment with some different techniques - will post more about that later.

The cane for this wee cat is a basic flower shape, with a pink centre, fuschia pink petals, and a deep violet background. The petals and centre were formed with clay logs, and the petals were finished off with a white border to add definition. Small wedges of the violet clay between the petals makes sure they keep their shape, and the cane was finished off with a thin sheet of violet wrapped round the entire design.

Having made the basic cane (which measured about 3cm across), I then reduced this down by rolling it out and made a number of different sizes of cane. I cut one section of a long, thin cane into seven lengths and then arranged the flowers into another flower pattern (see photo). I then reduced this cane down further, so the resultant flowers measure on average 2-3mm.

Once happy with the size of cane, I then covered a clay core with thin slices from the cane, blending and smoothing the edges as I went. It is painstaking work, as it's important to make sure the pattern makes sense and the flowers remain intact. Once the body was complete, the cat chose a vibrant green hat and scarf combo, so he'll be nice and cozy for Christmas!

He stands 5cm tall to the top of his bobble, and 3cm wide.

Ninja Cat and Pirate Cat (b.28 October 2009)

I had lots of fun last night! With thanks to Gemma (aka Cosmiceden, who sells beautiful jewellery on Folksy), I was commissioned to make a Ninja Cat and a Pirate Cat. I've been planning a few character kittens for a while now, so this was the perfect excuse to get going!

The Pirate Cat was initially going to just have an eye patch, but as I got into the spirit of things, I realised that the fashionable Pirate Cat about town really couldn't be seen without also having stripey trousers and belt, a cutlass, black boots and a natty skull and crossbones hat. He stands 5cm tall (to the top of his hat) and 3.5cm wide
The Ninja Cat has gone for more chic attire, with a white headband to signify his martial arts background, which he has tied elegantly at the back. He stands 4cm tall and nearly 3cm wide.

Now that I've had so much fun with these cats, you can expect to see many more! Ideas in the pipeline include a range of occupation cats (eg Army Cats, Police Cats, Doctor Cats, Librarian Cats, etc.) and I'd love to hear from you with any special requests for other character cats!

Reindeer Cat (b.28 October 2009)

The extremely rare and eagerly awaited Reindeer Cat has now been sighted for the first time Pictured here in his natural habitat, the Reindeer Cat is an endearing cross between a kitten and Rudolph. Often, late at night, a red glow can sometimes be seen, but Reindeer Cat is rarely seen in daylight.

He stands 5.5cm tall to the tip of his antlers, and is 3cm wide. He'll be appearing at a number of craft fairs near you soon, and might even find his way into my Folksy shop. And now that he's been domesticated, I have no doubt that a herd of Reindeer Cats will be appearing soon...

Rainbow Scarf Cats and Bobble Hat Cats (b.25 October 2009)

As autumn is well and truly upon us, and the nights are getting so much darker now that the clocks have gone back, the kittens are definitely in need of some warmer gear. So here are the latest batch of winter woolly kittens - I feel toasty just looking at them!

Ultimate Rainbow Cats (b.25 October 2009)

I am such a fan of rainbows (I may have mentioned that before), that I just had to make some more Ultimate Rainbow Cats!

And this time, I wanted to try my hand at a Roly Poly Ultimate Rainbow Cat, and I think he's turned out rather well! Both will be making an appearance at my next craft fairs.

Wee Robin (b.25 October 2009)

I had a great day on Sunday trying lots of new things out, and here's one of the new additions to the family!  Wee Robin is a simple shape made out of chocolate brown clay, with a bright red circle for his breast. He is 2cm tall and 2cm long, and has black onyx beads for eyes.

He has a number of friends to keep him company, and I will how they go down at my next craft fair in York on 7 and 8 November (more details to follow shortly).

Rainbow Cats (b.22 October 2009)

Back from sunny California (well, it was for most of the time!) and back into the crafting saddle at last!  I was delighted to come back home to find a request for a bespoke Rainbow Cat from Debby, who had recently bought Small Orange Rainbow Cat (thanks Debby!) One cat  then turned into three cats, and with photographs to guide me, I couldn't wait to get started!

So we have a Smoky Blue Rainbow Cat (modelled on Blue), a brown stripy cat (modelled on Tilly) and a ginger cat (modelled on Bob). This was the first time I set out to match a particular colour, and I had lots of fun experimenting with mixing colours and patterns. Realistic cats have never really been on the agenda, but I think I've got the flavour of these wee kittens!

For Blue, I used a mix of sapphire blue clay (with a pearlised effect) mixed with white and black clay.  I blended the colours well to keep the swirl effect to a minimum, as Blue is pretty much one colour. For Tilly, I mixed a number of colours - black, brown, white and two shades of orange. And Bob is a mix of orange and sweet potato colours, blended with some white.

All three cats are broadly the same size - about 3.5cm tall - although Blue stands a little taller and Bob is a little fatter. Funny the way their personalities appear! I had lots of fun bringing these wee mites into the world - and I know they're going to a great home!

I started a new job today as New Business Development Manager with Artsmix, so my days of spending over 12 hours a day at the kitchen table are sadly over (well, at least for week days). But I'll still be making lots of wee beasties and will post my latest creations as they are born - watch out for Reindeer Cats, Sleepy Cats and Snowmen!

A Weekend of Craft Fairs!

I had such a great time at the Ilkley Arts Market on Saturday 10 October! It was a lovely day, the venue was perfect, with lovely natural daylight and fantastic homemade cooking by Trufood Catering. It was so nice to meet such amazing, creative people (click here for details of all stallholders - Lynsey (aka Swirlyarts) and STACS Designs are pictured below), and the whole day had such a lovely atmosphere that I know this will be a successful event for years to come.

My wee beasties seemed to go down well - all in all, I sold nearly 40 pieces, and I completely sold out of Highland Cows! I heard the phrase "stocking filler" a number of times throughout the day, and the keyrings and mobile phone charms proved to be very popular. I was up until 1am making more stock for the following day's craft fair at Pudsey.

The Pudsey Craft Fair on 11 October (run by Artsmix my new employers!) was my first outdoor event. The weather was a bit grim to begin with (thanks to Helen of Riddles for the tip about using clingfilm as a 'wall' for the side of the stall!) but it soon perked up. It remained windy for much of the day, but I think I was in quite a sheltered spot, so I'm pleased to report that my wee beasties were not scattered to all four corners!

The turnout was not as great as we had hoped, and sometimes that's just the way it is. Those who came along certainly enjoyed the great display of arts and crafts on offer, and Pudsey Market will continue to be a great venue for promoting local arts and crafts. And I sold out of Highland Cows again - a chap bought two and wanted the field enclosure as well, so I'll be going back to doing a Blue Peter with lolly sticks and double sided sticky tape soon!

Thanks so much to Greg and Jo (who had come all the way up from Cambridge to support me this weekend!) for being there, moving boxes, fetching tea and brownies, giving lots of moral support, and for generally being fantastic people!

Ilkley Arts Market - Saturday 10 October 2009, 10-4pm

It's 7.35am and I'm making the final preparations for today's craft fair! I'm really excited about this one - it is the first one organised by the Keighley Arts Factory. It starts at 10am at Riddings Hall, just off The Grove in Ilkley.

See you there!

Tiny Owls, Tiny Rainbow Cats & Tiny Piglings (b.7 October 2009)

I seem to have set myself a challenge to make things as small as possible! After making a few more Roly Poly Cat Keyrings, I thought I would try making mobile phone charms as well. They are great fun to make, albeit a bit fiddly.

These range in size from 1cm (Tiny Owls) to 1.5cm (Tiny Rainbow Cats), and the Tiny Piglings are somewhere in between. The hardest thing was keeping the shape as round as possible for the Piglings and the Cats, and I managed this by placing the eyes first (which distorted the ball of clay), and then rolling it back into a sphere. And making the rest of the wee creatures was fine - everything was just on a much smaller scale!

These will be making their debut at the Ilkley Arts Market on Sunday 10 October.

Bobble Hat Cats (b.7 October 2009)

You may recall that I was toying with the idea of adding hats to the Rainbow Scarf Cats. Well, here are the results! It took quite a bit of trial and error to get the hat looking like a hat, and not just a piece of clay stuck on top!

In the end, for the small yellow cat, I used the santa hat template (essentially half a circle rolled into a cone), and then rolled up the eges to form the woolly rim, and cut off the point to flatten it. Having the ears poking through the hat completes the look.

For the tall cat, I cut out a full circle from thin clay and then smoothed it down to form a dome, I added a thin strip of matching clay around the rim, and indented it to look like a ribbed hat. The fact that the hat covers his eyes was a happy accident!

Santa Cats (b.6 October 2009)

Christmas is inevitably approaching, so if you can't beat 'em, join 'em! I spent quite a lot of time working out how to do the hats properly - I tried a number of approaches, including making a baked cone template from scrap clay, but in the end (as often happens), the simplest answer was the best. I rolled out a very thin sheet of red clay and then cut out a small circle. I cut this in have, and then rolled each half into a cone. I folded over the tip, and then put a white pom-pom at the tip, using liquid polymer clay.

I had really wanted to use fluff for the white band, and I experimented with two different kinds of white wool. However, it proved to be too much of a faff, so I ended up cutting out a band of white clay and then patterning it with a pen lid to make it look more 'fluff-like'. I think the end result works pretty well.

After a dubious attempt using a dark green clay colour for the cat itself, I decided that using more natural 'cat' colours works best for the Santa Cats. It also opens up possibilities for accepting cat commissions!

I'm in two minds whether to bring them along to the craft fairs this weekend. I do feel quite strongly that the run-up to Christmas shouldn't start until November at the earliest, so I may keep them in reserve until then.

Roly Poly Cat Keyrings (b.6 October 2009)

This was a bit a departure for me, and one I'm planning to take further. I want to experiment with keyrings and mobile phone charms (the loops are on order), and I'm pleased with the way these have turned out.

They are about 2.5cm in diameter, and by using thick clay for the ears and liquid polymer clay, not to mention a couple of coats of satin varnish, they are pretty robust. I'll have a go at making Wee Pigling Keyrings, and I think the Wee Owls lend themselves very well to charms and keyrings too.

Rainbow Scarf Cats (b.6 October 2009)

I had such a good day today! I've been going all steam ahead making lots more stock for this weekend's craft fairs! I had so many ideas after the craft fair at The Treehouse Cafe, and this was the day for giving shape to those ideas.

After making the Pumpkin Cats and Owls, I wanted to try out Santa Cats (something else I had dreamed up the night before). But before I moved on to them, the idea came up to make Scarf Cats. And here they are! I think they look like carol singers, and I'm thinking I'll have to try them out with bobble hats too - the weather's certainly cold enough for that!

I decided to make these Cats in pastel colours, and to make the scarfs in contrasting bold colours and stripes. Again, the possibilities are endless and I will experiment with different kinds of scarfs - I could do a range of football scarfs (not for me, I hasten to add), and I'll try out some floral millefiori ones too. Any ideas or suggestions would be most welcome! (My favourite one is the green cat).

Owls and Wee Owls (b.6 October 2009)

Finally got the Owls sussed! After making the Pumpkin Cats, I was on a roll, so I decided to have another crack at getting the Owls right.

My first Owl is the one in the right picture, shepherding the Wee Owls. Using more natural owl colours works best, I think, although I will try out some rainbow colours as well, just to see whether they work.I then tried out slightly contrasting colours (see left picture), and I think this works better.

I've changed the basic shape from the prototype Owls (see Owls (b.28 September 2009)), removing the 'ears', and I have instead incorporate 'eyebrows' (do owls have eyebrows? They certainly have quite a scowl!) I put a disc of darker clay into the eye sockets before imprinting them with a pen lid and inserting black onyx beads. I have kept the wing shape with marked feathers, as well as the breast features.

I love the Wee Owls! They are quite diminuitive - only 2cm wide by 1.5cm high (the Owls are 2.5cm wide and 3cm high). To make them distinctive from the Owls, I have not included the 'eyebrow', but the beaks, wings and markings are the same.

The Owls and Wee Owls will be featured this weekend's craft fairs in Ilkley and Pudsey, and are also on sale at Folksy.com.

Pumpkin Cats (b.6 October 2009)

I woke up at 5.30am this morning dreaming of Pumpkin Cats. As you do. So I got up and tried them out - I had a very clear picture of what I was aiming for, and I'm pleased to say that they turned out pretty much exactly as I had hoped!

These were based on the Roly Poly Cat design, and I used Sculpey III (Sweet Potato colour) clay. The pumpkin lines were made by rolling the ball of clay over the edge of a credit card. A wee green stalk on top completes the look, and a coat of satin varnish gives them a nice sheen.

The Pumpkin Cats will make their debute at the craft fairs this weekend in Ilkley and Pudsey, and I've also listed them for sale on Folksy and Etsy.

Craft Fair at The Treehouse Cafe - The Results

How chuffed am I?! I had a fantastic day at my first craft fair at The Treehouse Cafe in Bradford! An intimate affair, with five stallholders in total and a lovely cosy setting courtesy of The Treehouse Cafe. Great food, great company - what more could one ask for?

The craft fair was organised by Cat, aka MrsSewandSew (left picture), who had originally posted a thread on Folksy.com way back in July asking if anyone would be interested in having a stall at a craft fair in the Bradford area. And yesterday was the result, and hopefully the first of many!

Also at the Craft Fair were Pam (aka Pamdas/Buri Boo - bottom picture, and who makes beautifully delicate handcrafted cards and jewellery) and Tracy (aka RubySpiritDesigns - on the right, with her gorgeous selection of handmade jewellery), as well a number of children (Cat's, I think) and many family and friends supporting the day and the Cafe. I sold some of my wee creatures, as well as quite a few cards, and all in all, it was a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon!

I learned a lot from the day, and one of the key things is planning. Having done the trial run of the stall display a few days before (see 'Twas the night before...) really helped give me an idea of what worked beforehand, and I was also able to plan the packing of the display boxes and stock. The banner looked great, and I am SO glad I bought the length of black leatherette fabric for the table cover (wipe clean - very handy!) Amazingly enough, I didn't forget anything crucial (although it would have helped to have had some carbon paper for the duplicate receipt book), and I've got lots of ideas for the next weekend's craft fairs. I'm going to try my hand at some Pumpkin Cats in recognition of the forthcoming Halloween festivities. And Santa Cats will also be making an appearance soon!

'Twas the night before...My First Craft Fair!!

Wow, I never realised just how much work was involved in preparing for your first craft fair. Or then again, perhaps I've just made it more complicated than it needs to be ;)

I really wanted to do this properly. So, the A1 poster for the back of the stall, along with the 4 foot banner, were ordered from EPS (fantastic printers, good price, quick turnaround - ask for Simon if you're interested, he's been a complete star), and yesterday was spent in a very Blue Petery way with black paper, boxes and miles of double sided sticky tape! I had the most fun making up little field enclosures for the Piglings and Wee Sheep (see below), complete with wee gates! The postcards are printed (thanks to overnightprints.co.uk for that - £10 for 100 high quality cards), and Moo.com has delivered the goods as usual in the form of mini moo cards and stickers!

I did a trial run of the table display, and I'm extremely chuffed with the way it's turned out! You may recall  (see The Invasion Begins...) that I was somewhat perturbed by how over 100 wee beasties could fit on an A3 sheet, and how on earth was I going to fill a 6 foot table. Well, my kitchen table is just over 4 feet long, and I managed to fill it pretty comprehensively, with some beasties to spare! Having the cards definitely helped, though.

So come along to The Treehouse Cafe tomorrow between 12 and 4pm! It is my debut appearance at craft fairs, and I'm really looking forward to it!

It's been a busy day all round - I was offered a job this morning as Business Development Manager with Artsmix, and I accepted with great pleasure!  This marks the start of a new phase in my life, and I'm wildly excited about it (and a bit nervous!) I will still be making Wee Beasties, Rainbow Cats and Piglings, and probably lots more besides, and I will also have the privilege of promoting arts in Leeds. Life doesn't get much better than this!

Rainbow Cards (30 September 2009)

After a day of making Rainbow Cats, I continued the theme and made up some more Rainbow Cards. I embellished the clouds on these A7 cards, and used bright coloured cards to complement the blue cards I made up earlier this month (see Bright Rainbow Cards).

I also made up some more black rainbow tiles on small white cards, and for this sequence, I laid out rainbow strands into one undulating line, and then cut the line into three panels. I left the strands standing proud, which gives the cards a nice three dimensional feel.

I also made up some large cards with the black rainbow panels. I love the endless variations which can be created by interweaving the strands, although this works better with more random colours, rather than the rainbow ones, as the colours really do have to stay in order to make sense.

Finally, I made up three more large rainbow cards using thicker strands, and again I used complementary bright colours, having used orange and yellow for previous cards.

(Note to self - photograph cards BEFORE they are put into cellophane bags...)

More Rainbow Cats (b.30 September 2009)

I had another rainbow day, and I experimented with creating a rainbow cane. I started off making a bull's eye cane, with the purple at the core, and the rest of the rainbow colours wrapped round in successive layers. It looked really good as a cane! However, it didn't translate quite so well on the cats.

I think part of the problem may have been that I was using orange Fimo classic, which was pretty old (about 8 years, I think), and the colour has changed on baking. Still, I perservered and made these three kittens. I think they look pretty manic - the spots look like amoebas rather than cute rainbow circles...

And yet, it I hadn't gone ahead with the kittens, I wouldn't have come up with my next idea, which was to cut the rainbow cane in half lengthwise and blend the resultant half-hoop rainbows onto another cat! And I LOVE how this turned out!

I cut out tiny flowers from white clay and pushed them together to form clouds. Cutting the cane slices thin enough to avoid too much distortion was a bit tricky but overall, I think it worked out well. I would have loved a cat like this when I was young! 

And to finish off the Day of Rainbows (which also involved making another 16 Rainbow Cards - more on that story later), I gathered up the scrap clay and made another couple of Ultimate Rainbow Cats!