This week we would like to introduce Michelle Adkins and her ArtFire store: CreativeCritters.
Can you tell me a little about how you became a sculptor, what drew you to sculpting?
I became a sculptor because I've always loved sculpting. When I was young I would take clay from the beach and make animal sculptures which I dried in the sun. They were pretty crude, and didn't last long, but I loved to create, even at a very young age. I'm mostly self taught and am very thankful to have bit of natural talent. Once I got a little instruction from high school art classes I became much better, and learned a lot about sculpting. After high school I discovered Polymer Clay, which I could bake in my oven, rather than needing a kiln. I'm constantly learning new techniques and improving and expanding my skills. Polymer clay allows me to express myself better than any other medium I've worked with. I do also sew cloth dolls and stuffed animals, as well as making knit toys. I think one of the reasons I enjoy making the dolls and toys so much is because I never really outgrew them. They bring out the child in me. And there's nothing better than giving a child something you've created and watching them cherish that toy for years.
Do you have a favorite piece?
I love them all- LOL! One of my favorites is Scorch the Rockin' Dragon. He took months to complete and is the largest sculpture I've ever made. He was inspired by a poster in a music shop. I really like my Lighted Pumpkin House too. This was the first lighted house I tried making, and my muse really took off with this one! This was a piece that almost sculpted itself- one of those projects that just flows perfectly as I'm sculpting
Where do you look for inspiration?
Everywhere! You'll see a lot of pieces inspired by nature, flowers, and animals. My kitten, Calcifer, was the inspiration for my Bewilderbeast sculpture (he's a very inspirational little guy). Sometimes I find inspiration from within myself. Some of my work is simply an expression of what I'm feeling, be it joy, sorrow, or something more complex. Of course fantasy is a huge inspiration for many of my pieces. That's where the dragons, fairies, wizards, and other fantastic beasts come in.
I've entered several contests in the Creative Home Arts magazine and Polymer Cafe magazine (and even won a few).
Have you done any courses or classes?
No, I've never done any teaching (yet).
Was there anything that you had a particular trouble with when you started?
Sculpting people was always very difficult for me until I got a few Maureen Carlson books. She's a wonderful teacher, and through her books I learned how to sculpt the human form. Over the years I've learned how to sculpt more realistic people (and fairies) with the added help of books from Katherine Dewey, and more advanced books from Maureen Carlson. Of course, I'm still learning and always trying to improve.
Have you ever started a project one way, and somewhere along the line, went in a completely different direction with it?
Very frequently- LOL! Usually I just "go with the flow" and let the clay guide me. Many projects have started out with one idea, and ended up completely different. Sometimes you have to be flexible. If doing things one way doesn't work, you've just got to try something different. And the end result can be even better than the original idea. My dolls and stuffed animals generally end up pretty much the way I plan, although they do develop their own unique personality along the way. Since I'm going from a pattern, those projects are easier to predict.
What kind of workspace do you have?
Cluttered! I always have several projects going at once, so my clay area is full of clay, tools, and projects in various stages of completion. I have a long glass covered table on which I do my sculpting. Right next to that I have me MANY art, craft, anatomy, and inspirational books on a large bookshelf. My jewelry making supplies are in a card catalog from an old library. All the little drawers are very useful. I also have a huge trunk full of fabric for all my sewing projects, and a big laundry basket holds my yarn for my knitting projects. I plan on converting the spare bedroom into my new craft room this winter. Right now I'm in the basement.
Only constantly. I've cut myself with X-acto knives, straight blades, and pretty much anything sharp. I've hot glued my fingers more times than I can count, stabbed myself with sewing needles (and other pointy objects), and superglued my fingers to themselves and other objects. So far nothing too serious, and I DO try to be careful. Actually, I am getting better the more I play with sharp and pointed objects- fewer injuries and less blood loss- LOL.
What are you working on now?
I have a special order for a children's bible group for dolls and animals from the bible that I've been working on. I'm also making a Masquerade Cat art doll, which I hope to have completed and listed soon. This is my first art doll, and I'm quite pleased with the way she's turning out. I'm also making a bunch of new holiday magnets, as well as some new catnip toys. I grow my own organic catnip to stuff the toys with, and have been harvesting that too.
Anything else you'd like to share with our readers?
I just want to thank De'Anna for offering me this opportunity to be featured on her blog. I truly love what I do, and hope that shows through in my work. I want my work to make people smile, to bring them the joy it brings me.
Michelle, thank you for sharing so much of yourself with us. Hopefully you'll have fewer crafting injuries in the future!