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?
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!