A self-taught polymer clay artist based in Austria, City of Graz, Anna Karp spends most of her sculpting time making commissions like wedding cake toppers, birthday presents or realistic looking sculptures of animals. A small collection of nativity scenes or angel pendants sculpted by her can also be found at Christmas time in some local shops in the city.
Anna’s journey involving polymer clay started about ten years ago when she had to write her master thesis, was a bit bored and tried to distract herself. That's when she discovered polymer clay and knew right away this was something she had to try. Very soon she became addicted and found herself sculpting until very late at night every evening.
In 2015 Anna decided to open her own company and take commissions for wedding cake toppers. Three years later she discovered the possibility of making realistic looking miniature sculptures and took some classes from the wonderful artist Juliana LePine. “I loved to make those faces look like the actual person and find myself addicted again,” she recalls. “I now offer realistic looking figurines on my website.”
Anna enjoys seeing her sculptures come to life. “I love to get them finished. The feeling of completing a figurine you have been working on for days is the best,” she says. “I enjoy being alone in my studio after a stressful day and sculpt until late in the evening.”
We asked Anna what the process from the first idea to final sculpture looked like. “First of all I gather all the information and pictures from my clients and discuss the pose and all the details about how the sculpture should look,” she replied. “After that, I start sculpting. I don’t make sketches. Most of the time I start with the head. The majority of sculptures have a wire armature and sometimes aluminum foil. I make the main shape first and add all the details at the end. I paint the pieces using acrylic paint.”
Anna is very fond of her home studio and says that she is blessed to have a beautiful room, with lots of space, three tables and an oven. Being on maternity leave at the moment, a typical day in Anna’s life involves getting up quite early, going to various baby-appointments, doing the household and as soon as she has some free time she is eager to get her studio.
We asked Anna what advice she would give to someone who intends to start sculpting with polymer clay. “You don’t need all the stuff and all those tools you saw other artists use,” she replied. “Just take a piece of clay and try to sculpt something small. At the beginning you need a good quality clay. I recommend BeeSPuttY or Super Sculpey when you want to learn how to sculpt people. A knitting needle for shaping and maybe a needle tool. You can smooth the surface using isopropanol or mineral oil before baking or you can sand your pieces after baking using sand paper,” shares Anna her tips for sculpting with polymer clay.