Ask Me Anything with Donna Young

A couple of weeks ago we put out a call to find out if there is anything  you want to know about me; Donna Young.  We got an awesome response! Many people are familiar with Isabel Bloom and her history because she was the founder of our company, but unless you’ve been to a few of our signing sessions or worked by my side, you may have some questions as to WHO I am and what makes my creative mind tick.

Thanks to each of you that sent in a question for me to answer.  Other than omitting a few for duplication, I have answered them all to the best of my ability 🙂 Enjoy!

Ask Me Anything: Q & A

Q: What is your favorite thing to create: People or Animals? What is your favorite sculpture you have created?

A: I get asked this question a lot! And the answer is, my favorite sculpture is the one I am currently working on- so it obviously changes a lot 🙂 Also, this means that every sculpture is my favorite at one time or another.

 

Q: How long does it take you to create one of your beautiful sculptures? How long from your vision to when we can see them in store?

A: Thank you for the kind words. Some designs come easily and quickly (I’ve been known to start and finish something in one day), others take a lot of time (weeks or more), so there is really not one short answer for this.  Also, a lot of time goes into preparing to sculpt.

Isabel used to say she didn’t start sculpting something until she could see it in her head.  It’s like that with me too.  I spend a lot of time thinking, researching, gathering photos and maybe even sketching, before I start working in clay.  The “pre-sculpting” is just as important and sometimes takes longer than the actual sculpting.

As far as how long from vision to store, that is different with every sculpture too! Ideally, I will work on a particular sculpture for a week or two.  The mold making takes roughly 4 weeks, then another week to pour and finish.  We often cast in different colors, then finish in different finishes, then choose our favorite.  This can take many weeks, even months, depending on what else we have going on.  This is why we work a minimum of one year ahead.  As of right now, I am finishing up one last design for 2018, and our list of designs completed for 2019 is looking pretty good!

 

Q: Is that a praying angel you are working on? When is she available? I have to have her to go with my other one that you only made a few with wings.  She is standing and holds grapes in her apron.

A: The praying angel will be available in 2018.  The other sculpture that you are referring to is now called Bella, and her wings were removed due to production issues.  Your “Bella” is one of very few produced with the wings.

 

Q: What is your favorite part of designing for Isabel Bloom?

A: My favorite part of designing is having a clear picture in my head of what I’m going to sculpt, and working with the clay when it is at just the right softness- when I can squish it between my fingers and it doesn’t stick to my hands as much as it sticks to itself.  At this soft, workable stage, I can work quickly and roughly to form the figure.  Then, as it hardens I work slower, making sure I have the proportions right, the balance and action of the piece just right, and then finally the detail.

 

Q: What gives you your inspiration in creating your figurines of people?

A: Inspiration is everywhere. The key is to pay attention!  Ideas formulate when on a walk, in line at the store, while reading a book and in talking with friends or family.  My inspiration for the people sculptures many times comes from the feeling or emotion I want to convey.  It may be friendship or support; it may be motherly love or gratefulness.  Then I will look for inspiration on how to express that in clay.  Also, we do read the suggestions that our customers write in the books located in each showroom.  Many ideas come from you!

 

Q:  Have you ever created a piece that was just for you-that you couldn’t bring yourself to share?

A:  The beauty of sculpting for Isabel Bloom is that sharing my sculptures does not mean that I have to “give them up”.  Allowing molds to be made, and then to be cast allows many people to own the same work of art.  This was Isabel’s idea long ago; that art should be affordable for all.

Just recently I was offered an opportunity to participate in “The Bodice Project,” a fundraiser for the Norma Leah Ovarian Cancer Initiative.  25 local artists were chosen to decorate a bodice (dress form) however they wish.  I chose to wire mine as a lamp, and cover it in mosaic.  These bodices are on display in various businesses throughout the Quad Cities, until Sept 23rd, when they will be auctioned off to the highest bidder at a special event at the Figge Art Museum. I really got into this project, and I really don’t want to part with my bodice, so let the bidding begin!  (BTW, mine is on display in our Studio Showroom and Tour Center at 736 Federal in Davenport.)

 

Q: Have you produced a design that you were confident was going to be a fan favorite, and it fell flat, and was removed from the lineup?

A:  A couple of designs come to mind:  One was the Cello Angel back in 2003.  It is still one of my favorite angels that I created.  I’m not exactly sure why it didn’t sell as well as the other angels.  One reason may be that the subject (an angel playing cello) is not as broad as others we’ve had (like holding a flower, reading a book).

Another was “Yoga Girl”, which I still really like.  I don’t take it personally when a design does not meet our expectations, but we all try to learn from it.

 

Q: How do you maintain your skills?

A:  Looking back on my first sculptures, I can see that I have come a long way, but I realize I have a long way to go.  I just read a quote today by Maya Angelou that is very fitting.  She said, “I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.” I don’t think she was referring to sculpting, but it applies!

I also love taking workshops from other artists, and do so whenever possible.  I have studied with some incredibly talented artists across the country.  Some of my favorites have been Lincoln Fox (pictured), Simon Kogan, Peter Rubino, Rosalind Cook, and just recently, folk artist Wouterina de Raad’s concrete sculpture and mosaic workshop in Beldenville, Wisconsin (where I received some great tips for my mosaic project!).

 

Q: Have you ever considered people sculptures of other ethnicity?

A: I sculpt what I am most familiar with.  When I sculpt, I am not aiming for a certain ethnicity, and wouldn’t begin to even try.

 

Q: Have you ever made a private piece for a loved one that wasn’t released to the public?

A: Yes, a couple of times!

 

Q: When will the German Shepherd be ready for purchase?

A: 2018

 

Thank You

Again, I would like to say that I am thankful for each one of you.  It’s because of you that I am able to do what I love every day!

-Donna

by Donna Y

Donna (Liston) Young graduated from St. Ambrose University in 1981 with a bachelor's degree in Fine Art and Art Education. She started working for Isabel Bloom shortly after graduation, holding many different positions within the company. She was mentored by Isabel before her passing in 2001, and has become the sole designer, and now co-owner of Isabel Bloom.

Comments

18 Comments

  • Joanne Evans

    July 29, 2017 at 8:26 am

    I love your statues unfortunately i live inflorida and they dont sell them here. When we lived in iowa they were easy ti buy!

    • Donna Young

      July 29, 2017 at 1:39 pm

      Hi Joanne! thanks for your kind words. You can purchase our sculptures through our website; ibloom.com

  • Norine Sis Lippens

    July 29, 2017 at 8:27 am

    I have had the pleasure of meeting you at several signings. Not only are you a great artist, you are truly a very warm caring lady. You present a very kind and gentle way about you. I love Isabel Blooms’, just wish I had more space to show them off. Thank you for sharing your talents. And thanks to all, who help complete the finished pieces. Even all of the sale representatives, are very kind and helpful . Thanks!

    • Donna Young

      July 29, 2017 at 1:44 pm

      Norine, your comments are so appreciated! I enjoy talking to customers like you more than you know! It reaffirms that I am where I should be and I’m doing what I was meant to do. I hope to see you again at the next signing! Take care!

  • Barbara A Rager

    July 29, 2017 at 11:09 am

    Donna, I found out about Isabel Bloom, just a little over a year now from the lady that has a “Joy” large statue in her yard. I have purchase many of Isabel Bloom statues of angels on ebay since then. I would love to own the large “Joy” statue for my landscaping but when I look on your site, it’s cost for packaging and shipping cost along to Texas is a lot. Is there anywhere in Texas to buy the large Joy statue? I really want to buy it and if you ever offer a discount or have any outlet center with items with blemishes, I would love to know this. I just signed up the other day on Isabel Blooms site.

    • Donna Young

      July 29, 2017 at 1:51 pm

      Hello Barbara! How are things in Texas? We do not currently have any shops carrying our sculptures in Texas. Now that you have signed up through our website, you should be getting our emails. We do offer free shipping now and then, so keep a close watch in your inbox! I agree, Joy is a beautiful sculpture. It’s one of Isabel’s very early designs and is still quite popular. Thanks for commenting!

      • Barbara A Rager

        July 30, 2017 at 8:28 am

        Thanks Donna, I’ll be on the look out for free shipping. Your answer to how it is here in the San Antonio area. HOT! HOT! HOT!. We’ve had so many days in a row over a 100. I’m looking forward to cool weather and that won’t be until November.
        I have a greenhouse in my back yard and keep the fan running all the time. I also make sure I water all my outside plants early in the morning. (Thank goodness my area (Schertz) doesn’t have a water restriction.
        I would love someday to visit your studio and see all these wonderful works of art that you create.

        • Donna Young

          July 30, 2017 at 11:00 am

          Barbara, we would love to give you a tour when you come someday! You can watch the artisans at work! As for your weather, we’ll be jealous of it, come November!

  • VickiJo Davis

    July 29, 2017 at 11:19 am

    Would you consider doing a Chow Chow to help chow rescues I would love a large one or two!

  • Connie Mckelvey

    July 29, 2017 at 3:34 pm

    Hi Donna,
    My name is Connie Mckelvey and I have been sending you have been making different kind’s of dog’s and I was wondering if you could make a Yorkie and a Bichon Frise dog I have those 3 dogs and it would be nice two see you make them I am going to buy the horse for Christmas for my granddaughter she love’s horse’s so I hope to see those 2 dogs out on your displays and on your website. Thank You Connie

    • Donna Young

      July 30, 2017 at 11:04 am

      Hi Connie! Thanks for writing. I am sure your pooches are adorable and worthy of a sculpture. Each year I plan to sculpt one new dog, so it will take a while to get through them all. 🙂

  • Brigitte Bennett

    July 29, 2017 at 4:15 pm

    Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions! And thank for doing what you do! Your artwork is a big part of my family, friends and my life! All the best!

    • Donna Young

      July 30, 2017 at 11:07 am

      Bridgitte, thanks so much for wonderful comments. Our great customers are a big part of my life too! What would I do without you? 🙂

  • Pam Moore

    July 29, 2017 at 11:07 pm

    Dear Donna,
    It was truly a thrill to meet you at a signing earlier this spring! I am simply wild about my Bloom’s, and leave them out year round. So yes, Santa keeps company with a pumpkin, a cornucopia, and hearts! I am curious…. do you display Bloom’s in your own home, or do you have your fill of them at work? And do your children now collect them? Thanks for allowing us to ask questions, and like all the rest of the Isabel Bloom lovers, thank you so much for sharing your talents. Kindest regards and hugs to you!

    • Donna Young

      July 30, 2017 at 11:15 am

      Pam, I do have quite a few “Blooms” in my house. Right now I am sitting on my sun porch, looking at 3 rabbit sculptures; Isabel’s Baby Bunny, John Bloom’s Rabbit, and my Little Sniff. And next to me is the sunflower planter holding a philodendron plant. As for my children, they all 3 have their favorites, which is fun for me to see.

  • Maxine Stepien

    July 30, 2017 at 9:24 pm

    It would be well worth the trip to drive from Texas or any state to tour the Isabel Bloom Showroom and stock up on as many pieces as possible. And the Quad Cities offers other things to do. I make the drive annually from Michigan and love my sculptures and rotate them around the house. I have to get that German Shepard for my husband. Thank you for sharing your wonderful gifts, Donna.

    • Donna Young

      July 31, 2017 at 7:25 am

      Well said, Maxine! Have you been to our new studio showroom and tour center on Federal St in Davenport? We just moved from the village in November. Now customers are able to see the artisans at work through our viewing windows in the showroom, and even take a free tour. We look forward to your next visit!

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