September 2008
Featured Interview
Rik Pierce
Frogmorton Studios
CDHM interview with IGMA Artist Rik Pierce

Although Rik’s appearance in the world of miniatures has been relatively recent, he has always shown an interest in art which has blended with every aspect of his life. Rik worked many years as a cartographer for the city of Los Angeles. He then decided it was time to follow his passion for architecture and design and remodel older homes. As he did this it allowed him to use many of his design, texture and graphic skills. From there it was just a small leap into the world of miniature architectural design. That leap was “East of the Moon” in 1999. The rest is Creative Paperclay© history!

Rik teaches classes regularly around the world to those that want to learn his artform. It is best said by one of Rik's very own students, Tracy Topps, "Rik spends the same time with a beginner as he does a seasoned pro and has been known to make everyone feel welcome and comfortable to ask questions. He has even traveled the world teaching his skills and has awed us all by sharing with us his beautiful creations. There has never been anyone to build structures that inspired us as much as he has. Rik's creations look so realistic, one would think he had a special machine and shrunk a real scaled castle or cottage!"

On August 16, 2008, CDHM had the honor of interviewing Rik Pierce live. That interview is reprinted here for your enjoyment.

Q:  How many houses/castles/cottages do you build in a year?

A:  I build about 3 (three) class projects and 1 (one) major commission each year.

Q:  What is the average build time for one of your creations?

A:  About a week for the projects and 4 or 5 months for the big ones.

Q:  Are you a fan of fantasy art and movies in general and if so, which is your favorite author/story
       and or artist? For example, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Brian Froud, etc.

A:  You got all of them plus James Christianson.

Q:  How long did it take to build Hogwarts?

A:  About 15 months for the planning and 7 months to build.

Q:  Your 'Bag End' was beautiful; Do you have plans to make any more Lord of the Rings buildings?

A:  Not at this time.

Q:  How much advanced planning do you do?

A:  I usually do sketches on 3"x5" file cards and then on graph paper then build.

Q:  At what stage do you need to have your wiring figured out?

A:  I like to have the hard wiring in before I start the exterior.

Q:  Do you ever make major changes once you start a project?

A:  All the time; Sometime the spirit moves me and then other times I just don't like the way it is turning
       out and so I change it.

Q:  How do you make larger walls?
       Do you do them with one rolled out piece of Paperclay or in separate little parts?

A:  I use as large a piece of clay as I can so that there are fewer joints to smooth.

Q:  Would you suggest attaching gatorfoam to the inside or the outside of the dollhouse kit pieces?

A:  The outside as you need all of the interior space you can get.

Q:  What is the name of the paper you used for the roof of Hogwarts Castle?

A:  I use Bristol Board it is a heavy art paper.

Q:  Do you build the frame for your structures all at once or do you do
       it in sections as you progress?

A:  I usually do it in sections so that detailing the interior is easier.

Q:  Do you use natural embellishments, such as sticks and twigs, broomstraw,
       that sort of thing, or is everything made with paperclay?

A:  I use anything that gives me the results that I am looking for.

Q:  Which do you find more enjoyable - creating the structure or
       the interior decorating?

A:  I am a builder; I do interior work but would rather do the structure.

Q:  Have you started building your own Castle yet?

A:  Yes! I have the cliff where the dragon lives blocked up and his lair started.

Q:  During a class, you told a student you had ideas running around in your
       head but nothing committed to paper yet. Have you put your plans to paper
       yet and what will make your very own Castle different from anything
       we have seen you create so far?

A:  Yes, I have and yes, it will be quite a bit different from my past castles!
       It will be really weird.

Q:  For someone who has been creating works for over 30 years in various
       visual arts, that include drawing and technical theater, what
       references can you recommend to help to learn your craft?

A:  Boy that's a hard one! My background is model railroading and diorama
       building and I have had about 60 years to absorb enough knowledge
       to manage it. I really don't know of any series of books or videos so I guess I just don' know.

Q:  Are you ever going to publish a book or a DVD showing the different
       techniques that you use in your work?

A:  Not until I retire and that might not be for a long time!

Q:  Do you have any classes in the UK planned and if so how do I go about
       getting the details or do I go on a waiting list?

A:  Yes in 2010! You can keep checking my WebShots site that is where I post the class schedule.
       Also email me every few months and check in with me.

Q:  We are looking forward to welcoming you in the Netherlands in 2010.
       Do you know what kind of workshop you will offer than?

A:  At this time I am open for suggestions but as we discussed earlier I
       have to firm up the UK class with your proposed dates.

Q:  What is your inspiration to created new projects?

A:  Serendipity or if the spirit moves me. Really I ingest an enormous
       amount of information and I guess I have a internal collator that sorts
       everything and then spits out a punch card with a project. I know that
       sounds somewhat nebulous, but that is as close as I can get.

Q:  What brand of paperclay do you recommend?

A:  Creative Paperclay. I have tried others but it is the only one that gives
       me the results I want. But if I couldn't get it I would use DAS.

Q:  It is so hard to get into one of your classes as they fill up quickly; can
       you tell us the next one that is still open?

A:  I still have space in Philadelphia in November 2008 for the crooked house.

Q:  Mr. Pierce, thank you so much for giving this interview! My question is,
       if using paint on paperclay, what kind do you recommend?

A:  I use acrylics usually Delta.

Q:  Where do you get your light fixtures, specifically the lanterns.
       Thank you

A:  I get my light fixtures from a lot of places the exterior lanterns
       are probably Hadley House.

Q:  What's your favorite source for doors, window frames, etc.?

A:  I generally make my own doors and windows from resin.

Q:  Do you have any special advice for using Paper clay you would like to share?

A:  Unfortunately the answer to that question would take a book to answer as
       there are a lot of techniques that take a bit of explanation.

Q:  So, do you post notices through your WebShots?
       And do we have that information?

A:  On my website if you will click on the 'walking wizard' on the Frogmorton Studio's home page
       it will take you to my WebShots site.

Q:  Thank you for taking to talk with us Rik. What would you suggest for those
       of us that have never tied this. How would we go about making something
       small. I hope to take one of your classes. Thank you again, Best wishes, Morena.

A:  I would suggest that you start small and make sample panels to learn to use Paperclay.

Q:  What tools do you use? Any which you have made? Thank you.

A:  Boy another good question, I make a lot of my tools for working paperclay.
       I could mention them but they wouldn't mean a thing. Please be aware
       that I am not withholding information but the tools are specific and would take
       a lot of explaining to get the info across.

  I would like to thank Marlene for having me and thank everyone for the questions and for being here.


  Rik has confirmed classes schedule in the following shows in 2008 and 2009:

    Tanglewood with Rik Pierce
    Monday October 27 - Thursday October 30, 2008
    9am - 4:30pm
    Class Fee: SOLD OUT

    The Crooked House with Rik Pierce
    Monday November 3 - Thursday November 6, 2008
    9am - 5pm
    Class Fee: US$790.00

    Bishop Show 2009
    March 30 - April 3, 2009
    Class Fee: To Be Advised

  Visit Rik's website, Frogmorton Studios or his WebShots gallery.


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