Frequently asked questions (FAQ) will be added here so check back often.
For your convenience, our most common customer questions are answered right here.
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Q: Are your sculptures all original? They are so amazing. Do you use molds?
A: Yes, I sculpt each and every one, one at a time and no, I don’t use molds. I start with the armature and build out from there, adding layers of clay, and baking between each layer so I am positive the clay is baked all the way through. (See additional information below)
Q: How do you get such fine detail?
A: I guess the short answer is a lot of time- and strong magnifier glasses! 😉 Also, the use of reference photos is very helpful, I have a full list of resources I can share. I will add that in the blog section of my website.
Q: What kind of clay do you use? Where can I get that?
A: I use a polymer (PVC) clay that is made in Germany- it’s called Puppen clay by Eberhard Faber, however, that clay is no longer available, unfortunately. The new label is Fimo Professional by Staedtler. I have a large inventory of the old clay on hand and will continue to use that until it’s gone, in the meantime, to help my online students I have been experimenting with the new clay to find ways to make it ‘behave’ like the old clay. The reason for their change was to meet industry and EPA standards. As artists, we too must be ready to adapt when necessary and when companies have to change their products.
Q: How do you store all that clay you have?
A: I store all my clay in a dark, away from ANY source of lighting, in a cool place. The clay is heat sensitive so you don’t want to store it anywhere that it could be exposed to heat, like a garage or attic. I store mine in the basement in a cabinet. Some people keep the clay in the freezer, and that’s fine too. You also want to be careful when you order clay, the time of year, because you don’t want your shipped clay to sit for periods of time in a hot (southern climates) delivery truck.
Q: Where do you sell your work?
A: For years I sold on eBay, but took a break from that in 2011. Since then I focused my energy on creating the online classes because so many people wanted to learn how to do figures like these. Now the sales I have are direct sales from my website or from my Available Art Blog. I also have a Collectors List that you can be added to if you wish. Use the Contact Us form to make that request.
Q: You mentioned baking. Is there a special way to bake the clay?
A: Absolutely- and this is key. Polymer clay is a man made chemical product that has a scientific makeup and process. It needs to be exposed to the correct heating temperature for the correct amount of time in order to be considered fully cured. For Puppen or Fimo Professional, that is 30 minutes at 265 degrees. No hotter or it will discolor (scorch). So you see, it is considered a low fire temperature. Some artists bake their sculptures at lower temps- for whatever reason they think that is necessary- but what happens is the full chemical shift from liquid to solid does NOT take place at lower temps, and the sculpture will eventually crumble. I will write more about this on my blog. But the key is it is imperative that the clay is fully cured or the sculpture will not last. It’s unfortunate- because those that do not abide by this practice are hurting our market. Please check out the Tutorial section of my website and look at this file.
Q: How long have you been doing this?
A: Goodness, almost 30 years now! I started back in 1988 when hardly anyone even knew about the product. I had to order the clay directly from the manufacturer because no one carried it- so, in order to make that feasible, I started teaching classes in making little simple characters in order to introduce the clay and get people interested. It worked- and I continued to do that until this day!
I taught classes in my home for small groups, and I also was invited to other states to teach. I also demonstrated the products for the AMACO company at International Art Material Trade Shows, and through that connection and the ‘big names’ I met, I learned a great deal about the product because they were the major distributor of Fimo products at that time. I did product testing and R/D for them and expanded my experience.
I’m one of those people that wants to learn more and more and understand the WHY of things- and AMACO helped me with that quest for knowledge. I will be forever grateful to them for the opportunities I gained from working for them.
Q: Do you accept commission work?
A: Yes, on a limited basis and as time allows. You can contact me for more information.
Q: What sizes are your pieces?
A: That varies. They can be as diminutive as 6″ or as large as 14″ tall. On this page, Pippi the Painter is about 6″ tall. I enjoy working at about 8″ most often and find that collectors like that scale too. A lot of artists work in that scale and it makes a collection look nice and balanced when most of the figures are about the same size.
Q: You mentioned an armature. What does that involve?
A: Polymer clay is strong and flexible after it’s baked, but it is not a rigid product so it can’t support it’s own weight. I build a complex armature design first, what I refer to as the Advanced Armature design (available soon on my online classes link) correctly scaled so the figure is also correct in it’s anatomy, and once that’s done, I sculpt over that. It leaves little room for error, because if the armature is correct, the sculpture is going to be correct also. I firmly believe in this practice. Also, with the pre-made, pre-baked inner structure, you are assured that the figure will be fully cured all the way through, thus avoiding crumbling issues later.
Q: Where are you located?
A: I live in northern Minnesota, not too far from the Canadian border. And yes, it gets cold here. But I love it! I’m a Minnesota girl, born and raised. I’ve traveled to nearly every state in our country, but always want to come home to Minnesota.
Q: I see you have online classes. How does that work?
A: I do teach classes online! My classes are offered through A for Artistic and also to my members of International Art Doll Registry. For years and years I taught live seminars and I still do, now I teach ONE live seminar per year. The cost of travel and the limitations on what I can take on board the plane, or ship, etc. makes teaching live seminars less feasible. So, I decided in 2012 to put my information down ‘on paper’ and offer those via the internet. The beautiful thing about this is I can offer my class instruction to people worldwide! What an amazing process.
All the files are in PDF format, so when you purchase a class, you will be sent the files to download, save and/or print out. Once you purchase the class, you have access to the files whenever you need them for as long as you need them.
Q: What about the live seminars? Where can I attend one?
A: As I mentioned, I still do travel and teach once a year. Those seminars are currently held in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, generally in the spring. You can find more information about my seminars at http://www.aforartistic.com Click on “Live Classes” on the Classes tab.
Q: Would you consider teaching private lessons?
A: I have in the past and yes I would. You can contact me privately for more information.