year ago, Dottie
Erdmann walked out of a small art store with a box of polymer clay,
armature wire, and what she thought was a sculpting tool. Her
much like many other women who find themselves with hoping to fill
their quiet hours
with a creative pursuit. It’s difficult to imagine that Dottie could
find any quiet hours in a house with five
young daughters and a husband who traveled. But that’s the magic of
clay – it drove Dottie to make time for a collection of small figurines
hoped to make for herself.
Dottie’s polymer clay
“idea” has blossomed into what she calls a “three-decade reality.” Long
the day she first naively wrapped clay around twisted armature wire. It
then she believed she had no real talent for sculpting. But Dottie
and despite frustration, she began to see indications of figures
emerge. She recognized the autobiographical nature of her work; skinny
on which clothing gapped and hung, with narrow feet that had always
Thom McCann lace-up oxfords.
As Dottie continued
create, she incorporated features of children she had known growing up,
with too-large ears and girls with bows in their hair. Her detailed
could tell a story of Dottie’s early life and she considered them her
created family. She even names some of the boy figurines after her
or nine months passed
and an artists friend of Dottie’s encouraged her to show her work to
who was climbing the ladder of fame in the greeting card genre.
positive reaction not only enlightened Dottie, but provided the first
her figurines in Flavia’s San
shop. Dottie’s success
continued as her work was accepted into the Disneyland Art
What had started
as a quest for a personal collection of small polymer clay figurines
to a very special moment in her career. She and her figurines appeared
“Mr. Rogers” in his TV Neighborhood in Pittsburgh.
participating in outdoor art shows, she found herself fielding many
about her sculpting process. This led her eventually to write a book. “Hands On Sculpting,” says Dottie, “is a
fundamental book on sculpting and containing many ‘get off the ground’
from simple to advanced.
Dottie says most of
her work now is custom
orders for proud parents and grandparents who place special orders for
figurines resembling a special child in their life. Dottie accommodates
with custom hair colors and even an occasional baseball uniform.
When you visit Dottie’s website,
see both her “kids” and examples of her exceptionally detailed
is also a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section explaining how to
Dottie’s work for yourself as or as gift. She says, “Walking into that
store 30 years ago was such a lucky happenstance! All those kids I've
those parents I've met! I've loved every minute of it.”