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

Wee Jack Russell (b.31 March 2010)

This wee Jack Russell was lovely to make up, and thanks very much to Karen for commissioning him. I have a very soft spot for Jack Russells having owned one when I was a lot younger. Jack (as he was imaginatively called) was a very hardy wee dog - my dad used to take him hill walking every weekend, so I can't imagine the number of miles he got under this belt! He was a little barrel of muscle and had mad half hours where he zoomed round the livingroom, much to our amusement!

Back to this wee Jack Russell. He has the most adorable heart-shaped markings on his face, with darker fur above the eyes. I made up a 'fur' cane to create the darker fur which was a lovely blend of tan and darker brown. I used a plain tan for the face markings as well as the markings on his back.

What I love most about creating wee dogs is being able to match the shape of the face and the markings to the canine model. I've become a keen observer of dogs when I'm out and about, and Jack Russells have quite an elongated, dainty face which has a rather fox-like quality. And those ears! Well, they are so perky and flop over so obligingly that they are a joy to make!

I used a wire armature to reinforce the tail, and created the impression of crooked "Queen Anne" front legs (although I don't tend to define the legs to any great extent). I so enjoyed getting to know this particular dog, and next on the agenda is to make a miniature version of Jack, my old dog. Watch this space!

I'm a Featured Seller on Folksy! (22 June 2010)

Oh my word! I just found out that I'm a Featured Seller on Folksy! This is A Big Deal. Folksy have been running for quite a while now, and have featured four sellers every fortnight since they started, and these sellers appear on the front page of Folksy, and forever remain in the Featured Seller pages. They also pop up randomly in the right hand side bar when you land on the Buying and Selling tabs. There have been 144 Featured Sellers since Folksy began, and I feel very honoured that I've joined their ranks!

I only found out about it when I had a nosey round the forums and saw that Elki (the genius behind It Belongs To Turtle) had posted a lovely message about Turtle whom she'd commissioned me to make. (Elki has graciously agreed to help my campaign to have 'quernus' added to the dictionary, meaning to make something small and cute (esp. animals) even smaller and cuter. Petition your MP to make this happen.)

Turtle by Quernus

Another fellow Folksyan, DreadyDerry said that she'd spotted Turtle in the featured bits, and I wasn't quite sure what she meant. So I went and had a look at the Folksy front page, and there I was! To say that I am chuffed to bits is something of an understatement :) I remember when Lynsey of Swirlyarts was a Featured Seller on Folksy back in November last year (click here to read all about it), and I was SOOOO impressed and thought it would just be amazing to be a Featured Seller! And again when Pat Longmuir of PatsParaphernalia was a Featured Seller, I was envious of her for getting to those giddy heights!

So this really is a big thing for me - take a peek at my Folksy shop when you have a chance (I have recently added Wee Black Sheep and Roly Poly Rainbow Cats to the collection) - I'm off to have a celebratory glass of wine now :)

Mr Sparkle the Gnome Cat (b.30 March 2010)

I don't feel silly in this hat, honest

So, we have here Mr Sparkle the Gnome Cat. Mr Sparkle the Gnome Cat came about in an interesting way (as you would expect from such a character). I have Debbie Young to thank for this particular commission, and when thanking Debbie, I must also thank her cousin, Gemma, who made the introduction.

Gemma, you may recall, was the first person to ask if I could make cats wearing certain 'outfits'. This was back in October 2009, and first of all I was a bit alarmed by what she meant. Turns out she wanted a 'Pirates vs Ninja' theme, and I was glad to oblige! You can see the cats which started the ball rolling here.

Gemma then came back a few months later and commissioned the Wizard of Oz Cats - and so when I received an email from Debbie, saying that she loved the cats I had made up for Gemma, I didn't really know what to expect!
Mr Gnome says, 'Brush your teeth'
Debbie explained that she and her husband are cat lovers (being owned by four of them), and a little while ago she bought her husband a gnome. (Bear with me here.) However, after paying Mr Gnome less attention than he deserved, Debbie kidnapped it and sent him on his travels. A Facebook page was set up documenting Mr Gnome's adventures (current membership: 52) and fun was had by all as Mr Gnome went round the world.
Mmmm, lunch
Debbie's request was simple. Could I make a cat in a gnome hat as an homage to Mr Gnome? Of course, I cried (not literally). The cat model in question was Sparkle (see, it's all beginning to make sense now).

And so, in my own homage to The Fly, Mr Sparkle the Gnome Cat was born. However, I declined to perch him on a bicycle (realism isn't everything, you know). Mr Sparkle the Gnome Cat is, however, sporting a natty red gnomey hat, green coat with gold buttons, blue trousers and brown boots. And let's not forget that fine bushy beard. Now that gives me an idea for Brian Blessed Cat... ;)

Wee Mavis (b.23 March 2010)

Wee Mavis

This is Wee Mavis, the miniature form of Mavis, who is owned, loved and who slobbers over my friend Becky of Bright Paws. Mavis is a Dogue de Bordeaux, a wonderful breed with a big heart :)

Wee Ernie (b.23 March 2010)

Wee Ernie

Meet Wee Ernie. Ernie is a rather old, creaky golden retriever, and I was introduced to him (well, a couple of photos of him) by my good friend, Becky. Becky is the powerhouse behind Bright Paws, a wonderful holistic canine therapy business based in the north east.

As you can probably tell by the nature of her business (which she is completely devoted to), Becky is completely in love with all things dog-related, and in particular, the three dogs she owns. She commissioned me to make a Wee Mavis (a Dogue de Bordeaux), as well as a Wee Ernie for her friend, and I'll be writing about Wee Mavis in a couple of days. That's a tale worth telling :)

Ernie belongs to Becky's friend, and she wanted to surprise her with a miniature version of him. I have to say that Wee Ernie is one of my favourite commissions - I love retrievers at the best of time, but there's something very endearing about an old, faithful dog who's going a bit white round the muzzle.

I modelled the body shape first of all out of a pale golden/tan clay I'd mixed up. Then, to get the right effect for Wee Ernie's muzzle, I made up a Skinner blend of white and the golden tan I used for the rest of the fur. After blending the two colours together, I rolled the sheet out as thinly as possible, and then began the tricky task of applying a 2 dimensional sheet to a 3 dimensional shape.

How could you resist this wee face?!
Once his 'face mask' was applied, I tore the clay carefully rather than cutting it, as this makes it easier to blend in without leaving lines. Once the Skinner blend sheet was positioned and blended in, I was able to finish him off.

Whenever I see a dog these days when I'm out and about, I immediately go straight to sculpting it in my mind. It's great to really look at a dog and see it for what it is, rather than just let your mind label it 'dog' and move on. They are lovely animals, each with their own quirks and personalities, and I always love being asked to make up a new wee dog. I'm hoping to make up most of the dog breeds out there, and with time, I believe I will :)

The Glamourpuss Girls (b.22 March 2010)

Hot on the heels of Bedtime Kitten, here are the Glamourpuss Girls! Another commission from Michelle from Across The Pond (along with Wee Duma), I sent these three debutantes (can't get the Sheila's Wheels tune out of my head) off to paint the town red in Boston!

Michelle wanted the three wee cats to be exactly the same as the first Glamourpuss I made for Kate Fife's eponymous jewellery business, Glamourpuss Jewellery. However, I couldn't resist tweaking things a little bit :)

The main differences were in the tiaras and the feather boas. Glamourpuss The First had a polymer clay tiara and the boa was glued on. For these sassy gals, I made the tiaras out of thin wire, which was a bit fiddly, but very much worth the effort. For the feather boas, I plaited three strands of fluffy pink wool together, tied the ends together so they wouldn't come apart, and then draped them round their shoulders, securing them with a jump ring. This means they are adjustable and removable. Well, whatever next!

What I love most about them is that although the intention was to make them all the same, each one still managed to have her own personality (not to mention shoe colour) - the one on the left looks a bit haughty, whereas the middle one looks like the kindly one. The one on the right looks like she's ready to go out and have a good time! Do you know, these wee creatures never cease to amaze me - so much personality packed into 5cm of clay!

Bedtime Kitten (b.21 March 2010)

Bedtime Kitten

I had so much fun with this wee kitten! She was one of those ideas which kept on building and building, and it all started from taking part in a Fashion Night in Ilkley on 26 March.

I had been contacted back in November by the organiser of this fashion night, asking if I wanted to have a stall at the event. It was an evening affair, and was being run for charity. So I was happy to give it a go and see how it went. Part of the arrangement was that stallholders were to donate a raffle prize for the evening.

The event was billed as a 'Girls' Night In', with an invited audience of women. So after toying with the idea of making a cat in full fashion gear, I decided to go with my idea of what girls wear when they're having a night in!
The original girls' night in

The cat on the left was the first one I did - there had to be a face mask, curlers, dressing gown and, of course, rabbit slippers. However, the face mask didn't work out quite as well as I had hoped (Zombie Cat, anyone?!), and so I made another cat without it. I love the terry towelling effect on the dressing gowns - I used a stiff wired brush to imprint the clay whilst it was still a thin sheet (the same brush I used to create Wee Ella's coat).

I donated both these cats to the charity event as the raffle prize, but couldn't resist going on to experiment further, and Bedtime Kitten was born! As well as the dressing gown and rabbit slippers (I have fond memories of those from my childhood), she had to have a tiny teddy bear and a hot water bottle.

The teddy bear was probably the most fiddly to make - bear in mind (no pun intended) that Bedtime Kitten only stands 5cm tall - but I was glad that I had tiny black beads for his eyes to keep with the Quernus look (by comparison, Bedtime Kitten had 3mm black onyx beads).

The hot water bottle was a little easier, and of course it had to be a furry one :) Bedtime Kitten was sold at the Ilkley Arts Market on 10 April, and I have to say I was a little sorry to see her go - she looks so cozy and snug, and there may just be a hint of self-portrait in her!