Monster Kookies

Monster Kookies 1Kimberly Hart – The Mad Scientist of Polymer Clay – is one of those artistic success stories that deserves every hard working Cinderella fairytale cliché in the book. Only she had a gob of clay, not a pumpkin. And with that clay she builds everything from “Industrialized Creatures,” to Hollywood-worthy “specimens,” to cupcakes that eat you.

Her creations, collectively known as Monster Kookies, feature in numerous magazines, books, private collections, and public galleries all over the world. And she started on certain art website we all know, love, and with whom we probably still hold a neglected account.

The fact that you make an income doing what you love is an inspiration to a lot of young makers. When/how did you realize people loved what you do?

Monster Kookies 2“I think I realized that people were noticing my work when I was posting my stuff on DeviantArt. I’d get a few comments now and then when I first started, but then after a year or so of posting my sculptures and as I got more into the anatomical and industrial themed stuff, I’d get mountains of comments and favorites per day, and I always made an effort to reply to each and every one – and sometimes it would take a really long time, as opposed to maybe ten minutes in the beginning. At the time, polymer clay was usually seen in the form of miniature foods and beads and canes, so there wasn’t a whole lot of people doing what I was doing at the time.”

Nearly all your work ties into science fiction or fantasy elements. What drew you into this niche?

Monster Kookies 3“First, it was the anatomical stuff. A lady challenged me to create a human heart, but not just any human heart – a three dimensional anatomical heart. Nobody was making that sort of stuff out of polymer clay at the time. So I got out some diagrams, and away I went. When I was done, people were really excited about it, and that was the first time that I had to make something in such a large batch. It was usually one thing here, one thing there – but everyone wanted hearts, hearts, hearts. I’ve been into industrial music and gothic rock/deathrock/postpunk since I was a teenager, and it always prompted visuals of factories and metal. I put my headphones on one day, cranked some older Skinny Puppy, and decided to make an industrial-style anatomical heart. And then I had to make a lot more. It wasn’t until I made this heart that someone told me they thought it was very steampunk. This was six or seven years ago, and I had no clue what they were talking about. So I had to look it up. I liked what I saw, and it was very inspiring. There wasn’t much done with polymer clay and steampunk yet, so I just had fun with it.”

What keeps bringing you back to this blending of natural/anatomical and mechanical elements?

Monster Kookies 4“I just love the fusion of the two – it’s such a huge contrast (in content and color), and it’s a blending of two elements that I really enjoy doing. And the great thing is that the two styles complement each other so well, and even though they are two different things, they really are the same – except one is organic and one is man made.”

You’ve made everything from mechanical birds, to one-eyed space slugs, to blood-smeared gears. Does your work ever surprise you?

Not really, to be honest. My interests have always been super varied, so I make all this stuff to sort of keep myself balanced. If I am doing too much of one style, I need to put it down for awhile and work on something different so that I have some variety. Once in awhile I will take a step back and wonder exactly where the ideas came from, though, and what prompted it. I feel like my brain is always “on,” even though it’s not always easy to get those ideas out.

What creation has been the biggest challenge? The most fun?

Monster Kookies 5“When I was creating my Industrial Hearts, I used to take custom orders quite frequently and build the heart around people’s ideas or situations. That was difficult, sometimes. Sometimes people had really unfortunate stories, and you had to take that story and turn it into something memorable. It actually burnt me out a little bit, and that’s why I don’t take orders for them anymore. I’d like to create more in the future, but mostly for their aesthetics and not for any deeper meaning.

“Anytime I come up with a new idea, and it’s the first one of its kind that I have made, those are always the most fun and the most exciting. My first anatomical heart, my first Industrial Heart, my first SteamBunneh, my first MechOwlie, my first mechanical birdie… they were all great milestones, and I couldn’t pick just one. I’ve had a lot of fun over the years.”

Most of your work is very small – is that a matter of artistic choice or convenience?

“Both, but mostly leaning towards artistic choice. It’s nice being able to use my little oven for everything that I create, but at the same time, detail is where I thrive. And when you’re working on such a small scale, it’s easy to just stick to the basics and skip the detail, but I like to cram as much detail as I can into a piece. I love those meticulous little details that many people say they don’t have the patience for. And I think that’s what people appreciate the most in my work – at least that’s what is most commented on. If I worked on a larger scale, it would probably take me months to finish a piece.”

If you discovered treasure in the backyard and could afford to attempt any project imaginable, what would you like to do?

Monster Kookies 6“I’d love to learn how to weld on a large scale and I would tour scrap yards all around the province and collect the coolest stuff. I’d create a giant version of my MechOwlie out of scrap metal, so big that it would tower over my house and freak people out. And I would add electronic elements so that its eyes would glow bright red.”

Any projects in the oven you’d like to gloat about/promote?

“Yep, I’ve been working on a different version of my owls and birds and am trying out a new style other than mechanical/industrial/steampunk. I’ve adapted styles from Mexican folk art (like Day of the Dead themed pieces) and the intricate Eastern world patterns used in Mehndi/henna. I called them Sugar Owls and Sugar Birdies, based off of Sugar Skulls. It involves a lot more painting than sculpting, so it’s been a refreshing change so far. I even made a little nest from all sorts of wire, fabric, charms, and other bits and pieces for the birdie.”

Like most makers, Kimberly Hart’s story is best shown in her work, and there is a lot of it. If you would like to learn more about Kimberly, Monster Kookies, polymer clay, or how to purchase one of her creations, you can investigate her website (http://monsterkookies.com/). It contains links to all her various pages (including her DeviantArt page), and will lead you wherever you need to go in order to look, ask, or buy.

Flourish 3

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