My work is intended to make the viewer smile. I aim for whimsy without cuteness. Although my lions often have peacock-feather manes and the llamas sport leaves instead of fur, each animal is intended to capture the essence of its kind.
My feathered and leafy animals began with a rough working sketch I was making for a lion. The half-finished lion's mane looked like leaves to me. So, just for fun, I finished the sketch with a detailed leafy mane. I liked the sketch so much that I made the sculpture with a leafy mane, too. The lion was so quirky and right that a leafy yak and ram soon followed. Ever since, I have been drawn to animals I can leaf and feather with polymer clay canes.
Oddly enough, the use of feather canes on actual birds is a fairly late development for me. While leafy fur is whimsical, intricately feathered birds tend toward elegance. Consequently, I use a more understated palette for my birds. While my animals sport more color than their living counterparts, my birds tend to have less. For my birds, texture and line are everything.
For animals with sleek rounded forms, like polar bears and dolphins, I use my canes differently. Here, I apply the canes flush to emphasize the smooth rounded shapes of the animals. A limited palette further accentuates the shape of the animal.
The sculptural forms of my animals are influenced by the miniature carved animals of netsuke beads and toggles. Like netsuke carvers, I often position my animals to create a more rounded form. Also like netsuke, I try to pack my animals with personality. I love to play with the long, evocative necks of giraffes and the haughty expressions of camels.
I am also drawn to the sleek abstract forms of Eskimo carvings. Although I work with clay, wood and stone carvers have had the greatest influence on my work.