I have been promising it for ages but it’s finally here…
This is an extra special blog post on the very talented ‘mother’ of Cinth, my lovely snail. Before you prepare yourselves for her most indepth interview yet, here’s some blurb about the lady herself:
“In June 2009, I left a 15 year career as a lawyer. I treated myself to a 6 month mini-retirement to work out what I wanted to do next. During this time, I had the space, energy and time to start playing again with polymer clay, something I hadn’t done for at least 10 years and which I’d only ever dabbled in. And before I knew it, all these wee creatures were just pouring out – it was almost as though they’d been waiting for me to catch up with them! Since then, I’ve been creating little clay animals pretty much full-time, although in the past 12 months or so, business has boomed and it’s all I can do to keep up with demand. The wee creatures are absolutely alive to me, and because each one is sculpted entirely by hand, they each have their own personality. I think the wee creatures bring something special out in people – it’s hard to be angry or upset or afraid when you have a wee mouse or a snail gazing up at you. And so, life as Quernus Crafts is so much more rewarding than being a lawyer ever was, and even though I’ve never worked harder in my life, I’ve never been happier either.”
Hello Kirsten! So, what inspires you to make things?
Inspiration comes from a number of different routes. When I come up with a design myself, it appears fully-formed in my mind, and I know then that it’s just a question of translating the picture in my mind into clay. And inspiration can come from anywhere and it can strike at any time – and the wee creatures can be very insistent when they want to be born! I don’t sketch or plan designs beforehand, whether it’s a creature design, or a millefiori cane – all the ideas live in my head until the time is right to release then. Basically, if I can see it in my mind, I know that it already exists, and it’s just a question of when I bring it into this universe.
Another great source of inspiration comes from the people I work with – collaborating with others is just so much fun! When someone emails me or speaks to me about an idea, I can see the picture of what it will look like, and I will come back with ideas and suggestions so that the final design is built between us. Some of the most creative ideas have come from such collaborations – for example, I would never have thought of making a little sleeping dragon cuddling a plush tiger toy or a valentine wildebeest if someone hadn’t asked me to make them!
You make a variety of different things, which is your favourite? I’ve made thousands of wee creatures, and it’s so hard to choose a favourite one – that’s like asking me to pick a favourite child! But I guess I do have a soft spot for a wee panda bear I made last year and many of the mice have just stolen my heart away. Each realistic animal sculpture I make is always my favourite at the time, and so I do love this wee pug, Pablo, I made in January
Do you think of names for your characters first or do you like to wait and see what they look like?
I have only given the Snails proper names (the other wee creatures have been too numerous to name individually), and they tell me what they’re called once they’re born. Often they are influenced by their shell, so for example Hyacinth (or Cinth, and she’s now called) has a shell with a floral aspect, and as she was quite a reserved snail (in the early days at least), preferring to spend a night watching Truly, Madly Deeply. Hyacinth suited her perfectly. All the other wee creatures usually have “wee” in their name because I’m Scottish.
Cinth has been up to many things over the last month, what would you like to see Cinth doing next?
Crikey, she’s been so busy she could probably do with a rest for a while! Parachuting, perhaps?
Sarah and I disagree about the colour of Cinth’s shell. Is it more blue or green?
Turquoise. Definitely turquoise.
As a carnivore, I don’t eat ‘green stuff’. Which veg would you advise me to start with?
Romanesque broccoli. It’s stunningly attractive and beautifully geometric, being a fractal vegetable. Despite its name, it tastes more like cauliflower (if you can bring yourself to eat it, that it – the first time I had it, I just kept gazing at it until it got cold).
And before you go. I’ve always been great at magic tricks. Pick a number between 8 and 10. Was it 9?
Wow, that is indeed magic.
The quality of Kirsten’s work really is second to none and you will be totally amazed by the attention to detail she gives each creation. I absolutely love Cinth and will definitely be buying something for my other half to celebrate our anniversary this year. My only problem is deciding what to get!
You can visit Quernous at all these places, make yourself a brew and browse to your hearts content.
Website – http://www.quernuscrafts.co.uk/
Creature Gallery (on Flickr) – http://www.flickr.com/photos/quernuscrafts/sets/
Etsy shop – http://www.etsy.com/shop/QuernusCrafts