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

Wee Eva (b.10 February 2010)

Wee Eva

Wee Eva was actually the first Wee Dog I made, way back in February at the request of Carey, that lovely lady from Harrogate, who had commissioned a whole menagerie from me. Wee Eva was destined as a birthday present in April, and so this is the main reason I've waited until now before writing about her.

The real Eva is a Hungarian Visler, a gorgeous dog who is apparently very hyperactive but very sweet with it! My main challenge was getting Eva's character while retaining the Quernus look, and I have to say that it took several attempts before I reached a design I was happy with.

The thing about dogs is that they are far more diverse than cats, and therefore it's really not possible to do a generic dog design, in the same way as I can with, say, the Rainbow Cats. So I focused on what Eva's primary characteristics were (her gorgeous ears, smiley mouth and long tongue) and brought them out in Wee Eva. I used Super Sculpey for her tongue (which is what I use for cats' noses and mole paws, and I finished off the look with a lovely black colour, complete with dog tag. Wee Eva's tail has been strengthed with a wire armature.

Thanks once again to Carey for setting me on the wee canine path - I have to say that I just love making up Wee Dogs now!

The End

Luna and Maru (b.6 March 2010)

Wee Luna and Wee Maru
I'd like to introduce you to two beautiful Siamese cats, Luna and Maru. They belong to a dear friend, Anna, who not only designs and makes the most exquisite jewellery under the name of Sakura Jewelllery, but she is also the tireless editor of UK Handmade magazine.

They meet!

This was the first time I'd made up Siamese cats, and I very much enjoyed the challenge. Luna has a slightly more rounded face than Maru, and Maru is a little bit smaller. I made the body shapes more streamlined than my usual cat shape, and then cut the face markings out of a thin sheet of dark brown clay. Because the cats have a lovely dusting of darker fur on their backs, I did this by applying a light covering of pastel dust, and then sealed it with varnish.

There are a few sad stories attached to these wee cats. When I first posted these cats off to Anna, by recorded delivery post, the parcel went missing. It still hasn't turned up. And the galling thing about this was that I had included a surprise extra gift of a Wee Shadow, a black Staffordshire terrier who belongs to one of Anna's good friends. So while I was able to replace Wee Luna and Wee Maru without too much trouble, Wee Shadow remains lost in transit, and the only evidence of him can be found here.

But the much sadder news is that in recent weeks, from the beginning of April, Maru has not been at all well. She has chronic renal failure with suspected pancreatitis, and so Anna and her husband have been doing their best to look after the wee mite. She's not out of the woods yet and is on special medication, but she's a fighter and hopefully she'll adapt to this new reality. You can read more about Maru's journey here.


Wee Ella (b. 6 March 2010)

Wee Ella
I'd like to introduce you to a very special wee dog. This is Ella, who belongs to a good friend, Susie of Lynwood Jewellery. Susie is totally devoted to Ella, who by all accounts has a huge personality completely out of proportion to her diminutive size.

A miracle tool!
To make the miniature version of Ella, I used a new tool which I recently bought from Craftwise in Leeds (this is a wonderful, rambling craft shop with all manner of things - well worth exploring). This was a stiff-bristled spiral brush which is primarily designed as a ceramics tool. However, it works perfectly well on polymer clay.

Wee Ella
I have done quite a few experiments to create a fur effect, most recently with Wee Dog using a scalpel. With this marvellous tool, I was able to try something else, which worked perfectly for Ella's curly fur.

After creating the basic body shape, which included adding extra 'bits' for the ears and creating the mouth, I rolled the bristles over the body pressing pretty hard because the Sculpey Premo white clay can be quite hard to work.

Once I had covered the body with curly 'fur', I added the eyes and tongue, which is one of the cutest things about Ella!

And I have to say a few words about Susie here. Susie is one of the most amazing people I have met - not only is she a very bright individual with tonnes of business savvy, she is also incredibly talented and makes bold and beautiful jewellery which really enhances the precious metal and stones she works with. And if that wasn't enough, she is also so generous with her time and support of other artists and crafters - she's an inspiration! I have the privilege of working with her as part of the UK Handmade team, and have been blown away by her energy, organisational skills and her ability to get things done. It's definitely worth reading her blog - click here to visit. (Susie also wrote a lovely post about Wee Ella here.)

So I will finish this post with a picture of one of my favourite pieces from Susie called "I am finding myself becoming more and more abstracted" - visit Susie's website here and feast your eyes on some more beautiful jewellery.

© Lynwood Jewellery

Smudge and Boots (b.4 March 2010)

Wee Smudge and Wee Boots

Another couple of custom kitties, this time courtesy of Donna of CuteDesigns. And we have NiftyKnits to thank for getting us together!

NiftyKnits posted a comment about my Wee Frog saying that she'd just seen another frog on CuteDesigns' blog (click here to see the frog in question - incredibly cute!) So I mosied on over to CuteDesigns' blog and discovered a world of cuteness! I 'hearted' her Etsy shop, which is filled with wonderful things, and then Donna got in touch with me to ask if I could make up a couple of custom kittens as a Mother's Day present! Ah, the wonders of the internet!

The End

Wee Sam (b.4 March 2010)

Wee Sam

Gemma (she who commissioned the Wizard of Oz Cats and Liverpool FC Scarf Cat) also wanted a gift for her other boss. Her boss is an optician and has a black labrador. So what better gift that a wee black labrador with glasses?!

Wee Sam was fun to make - labradors always seem such happy animals, and Wee Sam looks as though he's about to wag his tail (which he does A LOT, apparently) and jump up on you to give you a lovely slobbery kiss!

Wee Sam has front paws, so is a bit similar to my wee cat designs. Again, I used a short length of wire to strength his tail, and I added a collar using a thin strip of red clay. I'm getting quicker at making glasses and these perch quite happily on his nose!

Wee Moles and Tiny Moles (b.1 April 2010)

Millions of moles!

I normally write about my creations in date order (and I have about 25 to catch up on for March!), but I am just so excited about my new moles that I had to share them with you!

After the fun of making up the Mole Family and Dr Mole, I went a bit mad and made up lots more moles! Not only did I make up another Mole Family (this time with props - love that little Baby Mole!), but six Wee Moles and seven Tiny Moles are now proud to join the Wee Beasties range!

Mole Family

I have pretty much perfected the millefiori cane fur technique. In the food processor, I chopped up a selection of grey and black clay, and once this was finely chopped and mixed, I rolled it out and cut it in half, stacking the halves on top of each other. After repeating this process three times, I then formed a square cane and reduced it down so it was about 20cm long. I cut this cane into four equal lengths, and then stacked the four pieces into another square cane.

Wee Mole and Tiny Mole

The difference this time was that I made sure the strands of clay were all facing in the same direction (previously I have set the strands at right angles to each other). I flipped the four lengths over a couple of times so that the strands weren't uniform, and then I reduced that square cane down again.

Once I had the cane made up (and that took just over an hour), I made up small balls of clay of differing dimensions and set about covering them with very thin slices from the cane. Once the slices covered the ball of clay, I rolled it carefully in my hands to blend the slices without distoring the pattern too much. Then I shaped the clay into that gorgeous mole shape!

Wee Moles

The feet and paws (and noses) were shaped from beige Super Sculpey, which gives a great translucent quality. Wee Moles are 3cm tall and Tiny Moles are about 2.5cm (although I did make a few that were 2cm tall - just too cute!)

You can buy Wee Moles and Tiny Moles in my Folksy shop, and they will also be making their debut at the Easter Crafts Festival at Duncombe Park in Helmsley on 4 and 5 April 2010! (I'll be there too, of course...)

Mole Siblings

Liverpool FC Scarf Cat (b.3 March 2010)

Hot on the heels of the Wizard of Oz Cats, the lovely Gemma also wanted to know if I could make up some presents for her two bosses, who are both opticians. One of her bosses is an avid Liverpool FC fan, and so the Rainbow Scarf Cat seemed an obvious choice for her, with some modifications.

I did a bit of research to find out what the Liverpool FC scarf looked like. I had no idea there were so many designs out there! There are away scarves, Carragher scarves, County fan scarves - you name it, there's a scarf for it! So I followed Gemma's instructions and made a red scarf with LFC lettering on it. I also added the white tassles using extruded clay, as that seemed more 'footbally' for some reason.
Liverpool FC Scarf Cat with Liverpool FC badge!

I also made up a small Liverpool FC badge for the kitty - this was a tad fiddly, but if you squint just a little, you can just about make out the dragon/wyvern shape in the middle! (And I apologise now if I've got the species wrong - I have no idea what's supposed to be in the middle of the LFC crest!) And because the cat was destined for an optician, of course he had to have a pair of glasses too!

Next time, I'll be introducing Wee Sam, the black labrador, which Gemma wanted for her other boss.