This November I took two of the three 2-day Kate Church polymer sculpting workshops put on by my doll club, Flying Phoebes, in Hayward, CA. Kate, who is from Nova Scotia, is well-known internationally for her whimsical sculpted figures she creates in all sizes, especially for the ones she creates in conjunction with Cirque du Soleil. I had met her at a NIADA Conference in Marin several years ago, and found her to be the sweetest, down-to-earth person, and an extremely talented artist. Some Phoebe members have taken classes from her in the past, and now it was going to be my turn. The first class was entitled "Dancing Fools" and would be small table top figures featuring what Kate is most famous for... expressive faces and amazing poses.
Above and below are photos of her small expressive figures, similar to those we would make in class.
Below is a photo of her larger pieces from one of her exhibits.
And below are three examples she brought to class for us to use as inspiration.
Kate's workshop, we all unanimously agreed, was the most educational, most inspirational, and most fun class we had ever taken. And, some of us have taken quiet a few different ones. Kate has a way of simplifying techniques in amazing and ingenious ways. She is so sharing of her knowledge and so generous with her materials, and her personality is so warm and engaging. Above she shows Geri the tricks of sculpting expressive hands.
Below are the two "Dancing Fools" I completed in Kate's class. I can't say I ended up with much expression in my faces, but Kate lit a passion and desire in me to work on my techniques and try to hone my skills into something I hope to be proud of. After the holidays, I plan to dive deeply into working with polymer clay to make pieces and parts to incorporate into the assemblages of metal, wood and found objects I hope to make for Alameda Open Studios next summer.
The first figure is French inspired—dancing with joy to be in Paris—leaping from one exciting point of interest to another. There is a small battery operated votive candle that illuminates the picture of the Eiffel Tower in the base from the back.
My second figure is enjoying the great outdoors—running barefoot through the grass—while trying to catch butterflies.
The second workshop I took from Kate was "Transformation." Below is an image of Kate's original figure which hangs on a wall.
Below are photos of my finished figure. Most of us did not stray far from Kate's original concept. I did not use her push mold for the face... this one I sculpted from scratch. Again, I learned so much knowledge on working with polymer from her. I am so very, very happy I got to spend some time with her, and to have the opportunity to learn so much. And, as I said before, while some of the time it was a lot of work in a short span of time, it was so much FUN!
Hands, feet and shoes all made from polymer... flesh color blend, black, white and transparent.
Kate supplied the butterflies which we decoupaged with a paper layer and recolored. We used pan pastels and PearlX powders to color some of the transparent parts... in this case, the gold on her head covering. I used parts from cut-up cut velvet scarf for her cloak.
She seems to be very happy hanging on my living room wall. She also is, quite appropriately, representational of a personal transformation I am presently going through!