Wednesday, November 4, 2009

One look at these silly characters explains why Laurie Hardin insists her job doesn't feel like work

Here is an article about one of the artists that I follow closely.  I love her work and find her ability to be so creatively productive envious.  She has a definite look to her work and I find her dolls to be both pleasing to look at as well as cheerful and fun.

Please read this article about Laurie Hardin, she is being featured in her local paper, but I think she deserves more exposure than just local exposure.  I am sure you will agree with me that her work is delightful!
You can visit the original work here>>

Photo by: Sarah Mulder, Kearney Hub
Laurie Hardin paints details on a Halloween figurine. Hardin first saw the idea of Halloween figurines while watching HGTV.

KEARNEY - When Laurie Hardin was brainstorming names for her studio, she didn't have to look very far for inspiration - it was lying right on her studio table.
Hardin's two youngest cats always find a place to carefully walk, lay, play and even get a drink of water on her studio table. Hardin refers to them as her "studio boys," while her husband, Kelly, referred to them as "monkey boys" when they were little because their tails were, and still are, extremely long.
"When I was going to come up with a name and they kept being on my studio table, it just stuck," Hardin said.
Among the paintbushes, paint and figurines on the studio table is a container, once used to clean paintbrushes, with fresh water for the cats to drink. The cats' food, water and toy bowls are tucked safely underneath her table. They even have a special chair to jump onto when trying to get on Hardin's work area.
Hardin's Monkey-Cats Studio features hand-painted and hand-sculpted figurines inspired mostly by Hardin's favorite holiday, Halloween.
"Some people do really dark things, but mine are a bit more whimsical," she said.
Hardin said she saw the idea to make sculpted Halloween figures while watching HGTV one afternoon.
"What I started doing is making my own Halloween figures," she said, noting her initial goal was to make a shelf full of figures for herself.
Hardin admits the first figures she made were disastrous.
After she found a clay she liked that looked like old-style papier-mache, she started showing the figures to her friends.
And then she taught some classes on how to make them.
Then she sold some figurines at a craft show two years ago.
Now, she is in her fourth year of making figurines and recently took 62 pieces to a Halloween show in California called Halloween and Vine. She came home with only seven pieces.
"Halloween and Vine was huge for me," she said. Hardin even had to turn down orders for figurines because she is already about a dozen orders deep.
Before making figurines full time, Hardin, who has bachelor's and master's degrees in art, worked full time. She told her husband she wanted to paint landscapes full time for one summer.
During that summer, she received a couple commissioned pieces, and when she was done, she told her husband she would find work. But instead, she started selling her pieces at craft shows.
She said about a year ago, she realized she could make a living off her artwork.
"It's just been a wonderful thing. I've been so happy doing it," she said.
Hardin said she gets her ideas for figurines through drawings in her sketchbooks.
"I don't ever have a problem with ideas," she said. "Every time I run out of ideas, I just flip through these."
After picking out a figurine to create from her sketchbooks, she mixes clay, which she orders in 25-pound boxes, and works it by pinching or rolling it out. She covers a styrofoam figure with the clay, adds wooden dowels for legs and lets it air dry for about a week. Hardin said it usually takes her about eight hours to sculpt the figure.
After the clay is firm, she primes and paints the object, sometimes putting on eight to 10 coats of paint.
"My surfaces are never one coat of paint," she said. "I like what it does to the surface."
Hardin likes the fine details on her figures, all the way down to sharp points on the stars.
"I will go through paintbrushes like crazy," she laughed. Poking out of a large container on her studio table are new high-detail brushes. Any time those paintbrushes are on sale, she said, she picks up a bunch.
Hardin said she has about four return Kearney customers for the figurines, with more customers in Omaha and Lincoln.
However, almost everything she makes goes out of state. She ships many figurines to California or the East Coast.
"I didn't know when I first started that there were serious, serious, one-of-a-kind collectors," she said, noting a lady in Pennsylvania has more than 20 figurines.
In addition to craft shows, Hardin also sells the figurines through an online market place called SpookyTime Jingles and through eBay auctions.
Hardin also creates figurines for other holidays, but most have a Halloween twist.
"Even my snowmen kind of look Halloween-ish. I don't do that on purpose," she laughed.
Hardin said she will make about 130-140 figures this year and sells about six pieces per month.
"I just feel blessed to be able to do this. It doesn't feel like work," she said. "This is what I need to be doing."
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