How did Little Fat Dragons get started?

When my son was born in 2011 I really wanted to continue to stay home with him after my maternity leave was up, but I’ve always been the type of person that feels stagnant if I’m not doing something productive and there’s only so many times one can stand cleaning the house right? I was sculpting for fun and at the suggestion of several people I started offering my artwork for sale. I admit it was pretty nerve-wracking at first, but It’s been an amazingly positive experience and I’m glad I decided to take that leap. Even more importantly, it has allowed me to stay home with my son and experience watching him grow.

How long have you been sculpting?

I got my first taste of sculpting in high school and really enjoyed it (though not the wheel throwing, I was always terrible at that) but it was never more than an occasional hobby until after my son was born.

Why dragons?

I blame my fascination with dragons entirely on the 1977 cartoon version of The Hobbit (which premiered the day I was born) – I would rent the video tape over and over, so much that the copy owned by the video store started to get pretty worn out. I loved Smaug, and would try to draw him and paint pictures of him all the time!

Why Cthulhu?

I can’t really explain it but I’ve always been fascinated with the idea of a sleeping elder god capable of incredible evil and so horrible that you can’t help but go insane at the sight of him….done cute!

How did you come up with your own style?

Time, patience, and perseverance – I didn’t rush headlong into selling my work, I just practiced and made changes and eventually the Little Fat Dragons were born.   So often I see people just starting out in clay (as I once was) who copy works done by popular artists and put them up for sale.  It was very important to me that I not do this, I wanted to be able to say that without a doubt these were my OWN creations and I am very proud of this fact.

What are your sculptures made of?

They’re made from polymer clay – the most common names people are familiar with are Fimo and Sculpey. I mostly use the Premo brand of Sculpey as it has some lovely colors available and it’s a nice consistency both before and after it bakes. I’m just starting to get into using Super Sculpey with some larger pieces

 Do you paint your sculptures?

I don’t usually paint my sculptures – I’ll put tiny little accents on them like highlight marks in the eyes and I’ll occasionally do very small details, but I prefer to let the clay handle most of the color. It’s one of the reasons I like to use the Premo brand of Sculpey so much, the color palate is fantastic.  Lately I’ve started adding hand-painted glass eyes to my creations, I absolutely love that this has given an extra something to each facial expression!

What glaze do you use?

I glaze sparingly these days, but when I do I use a water-based polyurethane called Varathane. I tested a couple brands before settling on this one and unfortunately I have to special order it online now because our local hardware place has stopped selling it in the smaller easy-to-use cans.

How big are your sculptures?

They really vary in size depending on what I’m doing. Most dragons fall between 2″- 4″ and most Cthulhus are approximately 2″, occasionally I’ll make a biggun in the 6″ or so range…but it’s very rare!

Why are such small creations so expensive?

Pricing is often one of the hardest things for artists to determine, because you’re asking people to buy both the sculpture and your artistic ability combined. While one is tangible, the other really isn’t, and some people have trouble with that. I determine the pricing for my sculptures based on the amount of time and skill it took to create them. If it’s a simple sculpt, it will be less expensive than a sculpt that takes many hours and involves a lot of detail work.

Do you take commissions?

I currently am not taking commissions due to a very busy schedule.

Your clay is so clean, how do you do that?

I wash my hands a lot, and I’m a bit of a neat freak about my workspace. Another handy thing to use is a little bit of rubbing alcohol on a small brush. It can help clean up the errant bit of dust or smudge, especially on those lighter colored clays.

My work always ends up with fingerprints, it’s so frustrating, how can I avoid it?

Prints are hard to avoid, and over time you just learn how to best hold the sculptures to avoid nasty prints, and you learn better smoothing techniques as you practice. I promise the first sculpts I made were very funny looking and full of prints!

Do your sculptures have any sort of inner structure for support?

Yes! I usually use foil or wire to create an armature inside the sculptures. This gives them extra support and keeps them from collapsing on themselves, especially during the baking process when the clay is heated. Without the support they can get very droopy. I’m starting to experiment with using Apoxie sculpt for extra support in dynamic poses as well!

Do you have a pricing guide?

I am currently working on updating the pricing guide, most of my work runs between $45-$225 depending on size and detail and it really varies from sculpture to sculpture.

Do you only sell online?

Currently I sell most of my artwork online,  but I will occasionally join the convention scene as a vendor and it’s a lot of fun so I definitely plan to continue attending various conventions. I’ll be sure to post which conventions I’ll be attending and where my work can be found – my schedule largely depends on that of my son 🙂