Today I would like to introduce you to Andrea Paradiso. I have known Andrea for many years and I am so happy that she has ventured back into the polymer clay community online. I am pleased to share her work with you today.
About Andrea Paradiso:
I am a polymer clay artist living in Pennsylvania, USA but came with my family from Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1964 when I was seven. Buenos Aires is a very big city and the town I live in is very small. My hometown left it’s mark on me forever and there is a big part of me that is still a city kid. I love the hustle and bustle, the skyscrapers, the parks, the movie theaters, museums, restaurants and activities. My memories of the seven years I lived there and the culture that is mine are still very vivid for me. My many years in Pennsylvania have given me my love of nature and gardening and the peace and tranquility of a simpler style of life.
What’s the History of Your Art & How You Got Where You Are Today?
I have been doing some sort of craft or artwork since I was five, learning my primary and basic skills from my parents. Among the many talents and skills my mother passed on to me where cooking, baking, knitting and crocheting. My father passed down his knowledge of art, music and engineering. Later on, I took it upon myself to pursue whatever craft or art captured my attention. In 2012, I was blessed to come across a catalog of Fire Mountain Gems and Beads with a fabulous polymer bead necklace on the cover. I immediately went searching to find out what it was made of and how to utilize the material. I had been making simple semi-precious bead necklaces and earrings and thought I could incorporate clay focals to broaden my scope. What I did not realize until later was that I had a knack for sculpting and I didn’t hesitate for one second to explore the possibilities.
What Makes Your Art Unique?
I revel in “the fiddly”. I love little details and working on them. Also, I don’t seem to stick to one theme in particular so I guess you can say my work is always a surprise, even to me. Since I have so many interests and inspirations, anything can catch my imagination. I do a lot of research when I do a project so I learn a great deal as I go along which is a great draw for me personally.
Where is Your Art Created?
I live in an apartment building in a one-room efficiency with my kitchen a few yards down the hall. When I moved in, I had to devise a way to keep doing my clay. My landlord let me have a small entertainment center that no one was using and that become my clay table. I also gradually converted the bedroom closet into an art supplies closet. It is very roomy and has loads of shelves. My supplies are organized into plastic see-thru containers which keep all my supplies and tools clean and organized. I have a big table in the kitchen that I utilize as my photo studio.
What’s Your Favorite Thing to Do with Polymer Clay?
Sculpture because sculpture means no limits on what I can build. I really wouldn’t say I have a preference over any technique or style. I love learning all of it and I’ve incorporated many techniques I’ve seen and learned for my projects. The clay itself is such a wonderful and versatile medium that I want to showcase it as much as possible. Therefore, as a personal challenge to myself, I never use paints, molds or adhesives unless absolutely necessary. I love to do lighted underwater seascapes, spaceships and other vessels so translucent clay is my favorite because it helps me create wonderful scenes that come to life with just an LED votive. I love to see the surprised look of delight on people’s faces when I turn on that switch in the dark…they never expect it! And that is very gratifying for me.
What’s Your Process Like? Tell Us About It.
Curiosity and fascination! I see something that fascinates me and want to recreate it. I do a lot of research online for photo references and background information. In the meantime a plan will be formulating in my mind of exactly what I want to create, colors, shapes and a general idea of how I’m going to go about it. Then, I gather my materials together, sit at the clay table and begin working on some part of it. The process is not unlike unraveling a messy ball of yarn and taming the chaos. As my pieces have gotten larger and more complicated, there is sometimes a bit of re-doing and frustration, especially on subjects I’ve never done before or pieces that need more engineering. But the satisfaction of the process and the end product is much more than worth it for me.
What’s Your Favorite Item and Why Did You Create it?
The first sculpt I made was for a Christi Friesen swap. I liked it so much I ended up making a bigger and more detailed second version to keep for myself. This was “The Time Traveler Opens The Portals of Time”, based on H.G. Wells “The Time Machine”. “The Charissa” is the first space ship I made. I had great difficulty with several parts of it but the trials and errors taught me a lot about building a solid foundation on just about anything. The “Corals Yarn Bowl” is my best example of a lighted under water scene. It won the Bronze Medal for Home Décor in The Fire Mountain Gems and Beads 2016 Creative Clays Contest. And my “Christmas Amaryllis” won the 2014 Gold Medal in the same division. But my very favorite is probably my little sculpt “Channeling Richard Dreyfuss”, an obvious reference to “Close Encounters of The Third Kind”. The sculpt came about one afternoon when I had a scrap of clay that reminded me of a mountain side and I started to build Devil’s Tower just like the main character built one out of mashed potatoes in the film. I had so much fun with this one and will never give it up!
“The Twinkibelle and The Hospitable Wormhole”
That would be “The Twinkibelle and The Hospitable Wormhole”. “Channeling Richard Dreyfuss” and this sculpt were done at approximately the same time. I was watching “Close Encounters of The Third Kind” for the umpteenth time, binging on old “Star Trek” episodes and working on some clay snails and turtles during the day. The idea came that it would be cool to have a snail and a turtle be comrades and friends flying a very colorful and bling-y spaceship, just like Kirk and Spock.
I also remembered reading about wormholes and thought it would be super cool to have them get lost in a wormhole on their way home; after finding an ancient map of a far away galaxy that had been lost for centuries. They would not get lost in the wormhole forever but helped out by it instead as it was a very friendly and hospitable wormhole. I saw the swirling wormhole in my mind gently spitting out the spaceship and that’s pretty much all it took for me to start building it. So, I wrote the backstory in my head while I was sculpting it. I love those two little creatures and their very big adventure!
Who is Your Polymer Clay Idol?
Eriko Page was my first big inspiration as it was her necklace that led me to polymer clay. Since then, by a quirky FaceBook co-incidence, we’ve become friends. She often calls to check up on me and always encourages and inspires me. We always say that we are bound to meet in person one day. Although I do very little caning at present, I would love to see her bead making process. She has gifted me with her beads and I am awed every time I hold them.
I had been doing polymer clay barely a year when Marie Segal asked me to submit one of my first sculpts for her book, “The Polymer Clay Artist’s Guide”. This was a tremendous honor for me. Marie has also become my Face Book friend and has given me a lot of personal guidance with the clay. I would love to spend some time with her because she has so much knowledge of the manufacturing process and the business side also.
There are so many folks I admire! So many on YouTube that I watch and learn from and that I’m so grateful for because they do the work for me in devising new techniques that I incorporate freely into my designs. Fiona Abel Smith, Teresa Salgado, Samantha Burroughs and many more. I would love to meet all of these wonderful folks.
Where to Find Andrea Paradiso:
The last few years were very busy for me and I did not have much time for my precious clay. But last year I retired and now I have all the time I want to create the projects I’ve been yearning to make. I also take commissions if the subject interests me and I feel I have the necessary skills to do an excellent job for my customer. I am working on my photography skills and establishing an online presence with the thought of perhaps having an online store in the future.
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Thanks for joining me today. Sculpt Your Dreams!