November 11, 2010

TAFA Team Member Colin's Creatures Makes the Asheville News!

Artist Colin Richmond of Asheville, North Carolina

Reprinted from the Asheville Citizen-Times with permission from the artist.

Describe your art.
I make a collection of fine porcelain woolly animal figures, primarily sheep. I carve an original piece and make molds of the parts.  I then make the head, legs and horns out of porcelain, for its detail. The fur is a woven fabric from the same German source that Steiff Teddy Bears uses, so they’re very soft and for the body I use a cast stone to give the sheep a very nice substantial feel.

 Colin's Happy Creatures

Why do you do what you do?
I do what  I do because creatively I like the puzzle of  creating lifelike figures out of a combination of mediums. It stays fun and challenging because with the diversity of animals and breeds around the world, there is always something with more detail to carve and more complex color and texture to figure out. Europe has a remarkable depth and breadth of livestock, so my research trips take me to places off the beaten path full of interesting animals, people and traditions.  I maintained a studio in Britain for several years, to study their sixty native breeds of sheep and to sell to that market, but that ended with the world economic crunch.

Tell us about your latest projects.
The sheep have become unruly recently, so my current carving projects are an Irish shepherd man, an Arab shepherd boy and a few dogs to keep the sheep safe and orderly. I am also working on a new Lion and Lamb and the Agnus Dei lamb.

What are you doing that no one else is?
My work is unique both because of the materials that I use and because of the subject matter.  My work is always evolving, but I have  tried to make my creatures as lifelike as possible. I give them personality, but I never want to make them “cute”. In nineteen years of doing this wholesale and retail in the US and Britain, I’ve never met an artist doing anything similar.

What influences your work?
What has influenced my work most in recent years has been the availability of materials and what animals interest my customers.

Sadly, both fur and porcelain companies have closed their doors of late, so I’ve had to be all the more creative in my use of the available materials and am even making my own porcelain to achieve the look that I want. Creatively, as much as I enjoy  carving the sheep, I like the challenge of carving primates and other wildlife, but there just isn’t the market for them, so they are for my own pleasure. These efforts aren’t wasted though as they improve my powers of observation and my carving skills.

Porcelain and fabric come to life in Colin's Creatures.

When is your most creative time?
I’m a morning person, so I reserve that time for creative projects and when I’m especially excited about a project, I awake naturally at around 3:00, wired and ready to carve.  I can’t control when creativity strikes, so I’ve learned to enjoy  it when it does.

How did you get started in your art?
I got started about twenty years ago when I had an idea for a mixed medium angel figure. I have a background in textiles and was familiar with moiré fabric and thought that it would make an elegant garment for an angel figure and that a porcelain body would match the fabric well. I knew nothing about carving or mold making, but with practice I became proficient at both and the angels sold very well. The seed for the sheep came about two years later when I read in a home magazine about antique  German sheep figures that were leather, wood and wool as I recall, although I am still yet to see one. My knowledge of sheep at the time was that they had furry parts  and smooth non-furry parts which was enough for me to recognize that my process would work well with them. I add and retire breeds regularly but maintain a flock of about 50 breeds at any time. They stand about 5” tall and the fur dictates the scale.

What is your muse?
My inspiration is the smile my creatures bring to people’s faces. That may sound hokey, but I would do this if I won the lottery, so beyond the personal pleasure of creating, what gets me going and keeps me going is the pleasure people get from my work. I’m often told by customers that the deciding factor on which ones they buy is based on which ones “speak” to them the loudest.

 Colin's Creatures shows tenderness among animals.

Who is the artist you most admire?
My most  admired artist is Monet.  Although I don’t paint, as an artist, I love his use of color in his water lilies. As a gardener, I admire the landscape he created at his home and as a non-conformist, I appreciate his persistence when impressionism wasn’t fashionable.

1 comment:

  1. Colin, your creatures are gorgeous, how clever that each has its own personality - a great interview & I wish you much success


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