Characters

The Incredible Automata Sculpture of Carlos Zapata

Posted in Automata, Characters, Metal, Wood on February 20th, 2011 by Alice – 7 Comments

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Torsos - by artist Carlos Zapata

Torsos - by artist Carlos Zapata

I first came across a video of one of Carlos Zapata’s automata last year and then again last week I saw another video of his. I have been amazed at the intricate workings of his delightful sculptures.

I was lost with pure delight on Carlos’s website, it is full of pictures of his work including the Elephant sculpture below. I  was completely drawn in by the stories being told and the colorful figures. This jolly  group is 28″ high, made of wood and metal and is owned by a private collector.

Elephant by artist Carlos Zapata

Elephant by artist Carlos Zapata

All of his work stands by itself a visual works of art, but nothing does his sculptures justice like seeing them in motion, it’s what make them so unique.

The layers of intricate mechanics is simply difficult to imagine figuring out.  Carlos is a self taught Automata artist and has his studio in Mabe, Cornwall. For the past 11 years he has been creating these fabulous kinetic or mechanical sculptures.

He often uses reclaimed wood and scraps or recycled metal in his work as he believes is contributes to the uniqueness of his piece, with a story behind the story.  And tell stories is one thing Carlos knows how to do.


The Automata Repairman by artist Carlos Zapata

The Automata Repairman by artist Carlos Zapata

In his own words, Carlos explains The Automata Repairman

“This man is cycling coming to repair your automata, he is getting old and he looks at the floor and then the horizon,.. but he keeps pedalling, he is carring his tools in his box. You can see all the tools that he is going to need.
Down inside the mechanisms you see this man flying and a fat cat watching him, while two hands are holding hammers moving in rhythmic way.
Down at the botton there is one collector looking at his automata and on the other side there is a dog that wonders what the fuss is about and turns its head to see you turning the handle. It’s 77 cm. High (30 Inches)”

His work has been exhibited in Museums around the world. Many of the ideas for his pieces have evolved and been taken from his own personal life experience. He often draws inspiration and is influenced by African, South American, Asian and British art.

Some of his work is very  large and contains full size figures with layers of activity below. This video Museo Parque De Las Ciencias G will give you a sense of the scale of his work.


I  can only  image how enjoyable it would be to have a piece of his wonderful sculpture to greet me each day. My favorite might very well be The Mask.

The Mask by artist Carlos Zapata

The Mask by artist Carlos Zapata

I’m happy to tell you that you can own your own coffee table book of Carlos’ work. He has self published an informative picture book that will give you a peek into his world.

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Automata Carlos Zapata

Carlos often accepts commissions for his sculptures from both private and public collectors worldwide. But if you can’t wait that long, you can own one right away by visiting his website, Carlos Zapata Automata.

You can also spend hours watching his 48 videos on Youtube. While it’s not the same I’m sure, it’s the next best thing to seeing them in person.

He also has a new blog where hopefully we can get to know him even better.

Popularity: 71% [?]

Maureen Carlson’s Polymer Clay Characters

Posted in art dolls, Characters, polymer clay on January 13th, 2010 by Alice – 7 Comments

Story Box #15

When I first started getting interested in polymer clay, it was because I wanted very badly to sculpt! Faces! There were a few artists that had been working in polymer for years and had published a few books. Maureen Carlson was one of them. I bought her book, Family and Friends in Polymer Clay, I loved this book.   Maureen is, and I believe always will be, a storyteller. Her newest work above is a tribute to her fabulous imagination and ability to engage you, the viewer, with the tapestry of her stories. Couple this with the color and texture of the clay and you have delightful, entertaining story to read in 3D. This Storybox might be my favorite work of hers to date.

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Wee Folk

Maureen’s designs are about imagination and whimsy and the joy of recognizing a glint of understanding in the eyes of a wee clay creature. Wee Folk Creations is a company that specializes in designs, artwork and stories created by Maureen.

Wall Doll

Wall Doll

In 1999, Maureen and her husband Dan opened Maureen Carlson’s Center for Creative Arts, in Jordan, Minnesota, just 35 miles southwest of Minneapolis.  In this small town setting, perched on the edge of a small meandering creek, students and retreat participants have opportunities to learn, to share and to explore their creative interests.

All My Life's A Circle

All My Life's A Circle

On her website, Maureen has many galleries full of work from the beginning to today. The theme of her newest work is faces, which is why I am continually drawn to Maureen and her characters. I just love this “Circle” girl. She tells the story of herself, on herself as we all do if one looks close enough.

Be Still

Be Still

In keeping with a story telling, on her website she shares this about her sculpture, Be Still.

“My sculptures usually come from words and phrases that pair themselves with images. Such is the case with this piece.  I heard once that there is great value in being still, that action is not the only choice.  In fact, there might be great harm in doing something just to do it, or in being busy just to prove one’s worth. I paired that thought with these words that a student posted on the quotation wall at my retreat center: You can’t keep the birds from flying overhead but you don’t have to let them nest in your hair.”  You can read the rest of Maureen’s thoughts about Be Still here.

Talking Stick

Talking Stick

I asked Maureen if she had anything that she would like my readers to know. She answered, ”One of the things that I know about my work is that I still love my little whimsical wee folk at the same time that I’m thoroughly enjoying the process of making the newer pieces that tell stories and ask questions.  Haven’t gotten bored yet!”

“It’s been 30 years now that I’ve been making and marketing my characters and I’m still learning new things. So many things yet that I want to explore.”

Maureen continues to produce books and many other products to educate those of us who want to learn more about polymer clay. You can access all of Maureen’s products and information on her website, Maureen Carlson’s Center For Creative Arts.

Popularity: 93% [?]