A little while ago I asked the wonderful Kirsten of Quernus Crafts whether she’d be willing to do an interview so we could all get a bit of an insight into her awesome brain. Thankfully she agreed and this is the result!
So Kirsten, what led you to start doing your craft?
Until June 2009, I was a lawyer by trade and had been for nearly 15 years. Oh, I’d always dabbled in making things my whole life, but it was only ever as a hobby. And then when I stopped soliciting, I had the space, time and energy to really focus on being creative.
I have always thought in three dimensions (I can’t draw for toffee and have much admiration for those who can), and having worked on and off with polymer clay for years, I decided to turn my full attention to that medium and see what happened. To say that I was rather surprised by the outpouring of wee creatures which happened as a result is something of an understatement. Now I am completely hooked on polymer clay – it is the most versatile material, and there is no limit to what you can achieve with it. It’s like painting with clay.
Polymer clay is awesome so I’m not surprised your hooked.
So how long has it been now?
Pigling the First appeared on 23 July 2009, so it’s not even been a year since I started doing this for real. I’ve lost count of how many wee creatures have emerged since then – must be pushing 1,000 by now. Crikey!
Woah, that’s crap-loads! That is so cool!
This is the Kirsten's workspace
My workspace can best be described as organized chaos. I have taken over most of the kitchen table, and I can’t remember the last time we had a sit-down meal. I am gradually taking over the rest of the house by populating it with lovely purchases from my favourite artists and crafters! I have everything I need within easy reach, and the windows look out onto our patio garden – lots of natural daylight, and I have a natural daylight lamp which is indispensable both for night-time working and taking photos. Radio 4 is my constant companion (I never realised before just how often they repeat their programmes through the day) and I’m getting to be quite a fan of the World Service. However, I have an abiding dislike of Sailing By…
These are so much cooler than Radio 4...
What’s the most challenging art-related thing you’ve done so far in your life?
Over Christmas I decided to make up a series of 23 abstract panels based around tree themes. These were special gifts for some wonderful people I’d met on a leadership programme in May 2009. These panels were a big departure from my usual creature creations, and I completely immersed myself in the task over the course of 5 days or so. In total, it took me about 50 hours to make up all 23 panels (each panel measures 4cm square).
Click to see closer. (Please!)
I used a wide variety of polymer clay techniques to create each panel, eg millefiori, Skinner blenders, etc – the concept of painting with clay really came into its own. I learned so much during the process, and I’m looking forward to doing more larger scale works in the future.
They look amazing, you are clearly some kind of freaky polymer genius.
It's so cute! (and magical too)
So what’s the most exciting art-related thing that’s ever happened to you?
OK, this will sound a little strange, but I almost choked up the first time someone used Quernus as a verb, as in, “Can you Quernus my beagle?”! So I’ve now started a campaign to add “quernus” to the dictionary to mean making something small (esp. cute) even smaller and cuter. Then I’ll know I’ve truly made it. Also I found out last night that I’m a Featured Seller on Folksy! I squealed quite loudly when I found out.
That’s great news, and very much deserved, that’s for sure.
Is there anyone that inspires you especially (artists or otherwise)?
I have always loved Georgia O’Keefe’s work – it’s so fluid and organic, and her use of colours is stunning. And on the literary side, Bill Bryson’s drollness and sense of childlike wonder and curiosity always reminds me to look at the world with fresh eyes, and not assume that I know what’s going on.
Silly question (although sort of fitting) but if you were an animal, what animal what you be (and why)?
I’d definitely be a cat. They have an inscrutable and ineffable knowing about them. I’d love to know what they know!
And what do you get up to when you’re not making your pieces?
Since February 2010, I have been doing a lot of work with UK Handmade. I am deputy editor of the magazine, and also do a lot of business development and PR work. UK Handmade promotes and supports artists and crafters within the UK. We are working on a number of projects just now, including producing e-books with advice and tips for running your own craft business, setting up local groups across the country, and a host of other initiatives. So when I’m not at the kitchen table, I’m usually to be found on the computer, on the phone, or out and about networking! And sometimes I even get to see my partner, Greg J (not a serious link)
Any blogs you’d recommend people check out?
It Belongs To Turtle is one of my absolute favourites – the creator is the very talented Elki Shaw, and she has created the most marvellous character in Turtle – you can read all about the adventures of Turtle and friends at http://itbelongstoturtle.blogspot.com/. I also have to say that UK Handmade has a great blog (http://ukhandmade.blogspot.com/) which is updated daily with lots of helpful articles and interviews. And for lots of lovely pictures of dogs and heart-warming stories, check out Poochie Freak – http://poochiefreak.wordpress.com/. Angela Chapman’s beautiful photography complements her love of dogs in a wonderful way.
This piece was comissioned by 'It Belongs To Turtle' - so cute.
I’ve had a look and they are all great blogs, you all must go see.
Ok final question now. What’s your favourite sight, sound, smell and feeling?
I love rainbows. They make my heart smile – the combination of colours is just so perfect, and it reminds me that nature’s pretty much got it all sussed, and we’re the ones with lots of catching up to do. I also love the sound of a lazy summer afternoon, with bumble bees and the distant drone of a lawnmower – that ties in with my favourite smell of fresh cut grass and honeysuckle from my childhood and. And the feeling I love is when you see a beautiful sunset, or a beautiful view (I am particularly fond of trees), and I am overcome by a feeling that all is well with the world. It’s a wonderfully grounded feeling, like burrowing your toes into warm sand.
They like grass too.
Great answers. Thanks so much for letting me interview you. I hope it keeps going so well. =)
And that’s it for today kids! I must say looking through Kirsten’s Flickr sets for photos to feature in this post, my mind was absolutely blown. She is an absolute genius. There are all so fantastically cute and hilarious. Please all go and take a good look.
Thanks so much for coming along and reading. Watch this space for another blog post about something else at somepoint! Yay!