Artist Karen Santos’ clay & resin sculptures are otherworldly, creepy and cute at the same time! We’ve been fascinated with her creations for a few years now and are thrilled that she will be at Lackawanna Arts Fest for the first time this year. “The Beasties” seem to be her most popular line of characters but we also love her illustrations and the many other many other creatures she will be featuring at the festival this year!
Tell us how you started The Art Of Karen Santos.
A few years ago, my daughter, who was 11 at the time, asked me to help her make clay charms. She wanted to sell them and make some spending money. As soon as I started working with the clay, I fell in love. I made a few sculptures based on some of my drawings, and came up with “The Beasties”.
My husband and I own Art Rage Tattoo Studio, and were going to a tattoo convention for the weekend, so I took the Beasties with me, on the off chance that someone would actually want to buy one, and to my surprise, I sold them all and have been making them non stop ever since!
What inspires your work?
My life, for the most part. My past and present experiences and relationships play a huge part in my work, as well as work from other artists. If I get into a rut, I usually go to the bookstore to unwind and flip through some magazines. It almost always sparks something to get me “unstuck”.
What type of items do you make? Tell us a little about your medium and process.
I do a little bit of everything, including portraits, illustrations, mixed media and writing. My latest conquest is needle felting, which is oddly satisfying. However my absolute favorite is working with polymer clay and epoxy. There isn’t really a method to my madness. I have an idea, grab a glob of clay and mold it until I’m satisfied with how it looks. Sometimes, if it’s something more complex, I make armatures using wire and aluminum foil to build a base for the clay. All of my larger sculptures, particularly the octopus and unicorns are done with armatures and epoxy. Epoxy is stronger and more durable than clay. Sculpting with it is more time consuming and tedious, but you can’t beat the end results.
When I came up with the Beasties, I decided that I wanted to make more than just one or two, so I taught myself the process of silicone mold making and resin pouring. It’s a bit complicated, but the more you do it, the easier it becomes. I start by making my original as close to perfect as I can by sanding and priming it as many times as necessary. Once I’m satisfied, I make a mold box and measure and mix the silicone that will be used. Depending on the type of mold that I need, one part or two part, I then pour the silicone over the sculpture and let it cure overnight. Once it’s cured, it can be de-molded and prepared for the final process of measuring, mixing and pouring the resin. The finished product is a resin copy of the original, which I then hand paint. Once dried, I add their eyes and they’re done! Every single one is uniquely made and painted by myself.
Have you always been an artist?
I drew all of the time as a kid. I was a perfectionist though, and eventually burned myself out toward the end high school. After that, I didn’t pick up a pencil again until I was in my late twenties. The first thing I did when I started back up was a pencil portrait of my kids. One thing led to another, and here I am!
What will you be featuring at Lackawanna Arts Fest?
I will be featuring the original Beasties, as well as a few newer versions. I’ll also have a few new creations like the Blockheads and Foxcats, along with some other original clay sculptures. Did I mention I make genuine gemstone bracelets and Mala necklaces?? I’ll have a few of those with me as well as a few of my 5×7 prints.
What do you love most about running your business?
As a stay at home mom, I’d have to say the flexibility. That and the fact that I can switch things up at any point. I have a tendency to get bored, so being able to stop one thing and work on another is definitely a plus.
Is there anything else you would like our readers to know?
I pour my heart and soul into every piece that I create, whether it’s a drawing or a sculpture, you can be sure that you’re getting my best. If you’re interested in purchasing anything and can’t make it to the Arts Fest, you can find my Etsy store at Etsy.com/shop/CuriousnCollectable.
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