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

Wee Sophie (b.10 November 2011)

11 November 2011
It's been a while since I wrote about how a creature comes into being, and so I wanted to share with you the process I went through to make Wee Sophie. Sophie is a beautiful Shih Tzu who lives in Australia, so she's kept trimmed because of the heat. A huge thank you to Kristy who commissioned a miniature version of her beloved pet (along with a couple of mice for her parents!)

First up were the raw materials. Sophie is pure white with pale fawn markings on her back, and she has fawn ears. I used Fimo Soft for the white, and Fimo Classic champagne, tinted paler by mixing with white, for the fawn markings. (I use a glass work surface protector (hence the rather worrying references to dicing, chopping and slicing!)

After conditioning the clay, I created the basic body shape, and added the front legs which are strengthened with wire armature. I made the head separately and added the eyes and shaped the mouth, before joining the two together and securing them with a clay collar which I blended with the side of a knitting needle.

I then worked on the face. Because Sophie is a very fluffy dog, I used lots of thinly rolled logs of white clay, using thicker logs for the fur above the eyes. I lined the mouth with black clay, and added a tongue made with translucent pink clay. The eyes are hand painted glass eyes from Mohair Bear Making Supplies.

After finishing the face, I added the ears. I used triangular pieces of fawn clay, slightly bent in the middle to create more shape. I then added tiny logs of curled fawn clay for the fur. Once the ears were added, she really started to take shape! Whenever I'm creating a creature, whether it's a mouse or a pet commission, I keep a very clear picture in my mind about what the finished creature will look like - that helps me to see how the clay wants to be, and it's more like uncovering the shape that's within the clay.

Next, I worked on the body. To create the impression a lots of fur, I built up the shoulders, chest, chin and rump using balls of clay that I'd pressed out flat. I didn't have to worry too much about blending these smooth, as they would be covered with yet more clay. However, it was important to blend the edges a bit so there weren't any 'steps' of clay which interrupted the smooth line of her body.

The next step was to add the body fur. I added the fawn markings first, and because Sophie is so fluffy, I used short strands of clay which I curled at each end. Then I filled in the rest with white clay, using the same method. It took me about 4-5 hours to get to this stage.

The next step was to 'fluff' Wee Sophie's fur - I use a doll-making needle, which is much longer and a bit thicker than a normal needle (it's one of my favourite tools). To create more of a fluffy effect, I scored the fur quite deeply, and I followed the direction of fur on the real Sophie. Because I was using Fimo Soft clay, it was important not to touch her too much or I would lose the definition in the clay created by the needle, so I placed her on a small glass coaster which I could hold in my left hand and turn easily to score the fur all over her body. I paid special attention to her face, and used much finer and light strokes there.

And here's the finished Wee Sophie! In total, Wee Sophie took about 7 hours to make. And the very final step was of course the most important one - to make a miniature version of her favourite toy, Piggy. Piggy (or Wee Piggy, I suppose we should call him) is small. Very, very small. He's 1.8cm long and 1.4cm tall. Did I mention that he was tiny? This is Wee Piggy next to a 1p coin. 

And last, but by no means least, here's the real Sophie - isn't she cute?! Many thanks once again to Kristy for asking me to create her beautiful dog in miniature form!


  1. How wonderful, and rather miraculous really, to see little Sophie and her even tinier friend come to life. Thank you for sharing!

  2. I really admire your work.

  3. You are a VERY clever lady!

    So cool to see all the things you start with and how you end up with an amazing dog at the end. She goes through a little bit of a Sophie Seal process part way through too, I thought ;-)


  4. Thanks for all your lovely comments! Angela, I was going to say that Wee Sophie looked like a seal in the early stages!!!

  5. I love this, Kirsten! Thanks for sharing x

  6. Kristy (Australia)12 November 2011 at 07:10

    Thank you so much for this gorgeous
    work of Sophie! We are absolutely in love with her and can't wait for her to arrive!
    (Plus Hairdresser and Carpenter Mouse!)

    Sophie loves Wee Sophie too and thinks
    you have captured her piggy to a tee!

    It was so interesting seeing the pictures and
    reading about the creative process - we really
    appreciate the effort and love you put into your work.

    We can't thank you enough! :) xx

  7. I'm so pleased you like her, Kristy! Thank you again for asking me to bring a Wee Sophie into the world - it's been so much fun working with you on this whole commission!

    Kirsten xx

  8. This is so interesting, Kirsten! I kept going back to the finished picture, trying to track the developments - you are a talented lady and no mistake.

  9. Thank you Heather! I'm very patient and, like you, must pay attention to detail! The rest flows from there ;)