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Interview with Miniature Sculpturist Aleah Klay

I am a sculptress and miniaturist. My tiny sculptures range in size from 1/2 of an inch tall to 1 1/4 of an inch tall. I sculpt miniature animals, toys, teddy bears, and dolls. My works have been featured in La Bacchetta, American Miniaturist, Teddy Bear Times, and Teddies Kreativ. My current works can be found on eBay, just search Aleah Klay.


A Blog Talk Radio Interview can be listened to here:

Aleah Klay Interview

Aleah Klay

Born in California, to an American mother and Swiss father. She lived a few years in Switzerland, and spent most of her childhood in Utah. Aleah currently resides in Florida. She enjoys long walks, and wildlife watching. She also enjoys reading, dancing and going to her local community theater to learn, practice, and perform Improv comedy.

A love of toys, playfulness, Story, illustrations, and fantasy are at the heart of her works. Each miniature takes on its own personality and has a unique story to tell. The stories are unwritten, leaving interpretation in the minds of the viewers. My hope is to bring a small bit of joy and happiness to those who view them. I believe in the golden rule, goodwill, positive attitude, hard work, and finding a path to happiness. It is my intention to insinuate these things through my art.

Many more images of her work can be found here:

Aleah Klay Blog

Aleah Klay Facebook

Interview – Aleah in Her Own Words

I was born in California, shortly after I was born my family moved to Switzerland. My Father is a Swiss native. I lived there till I was about 4 then we moved to Utah. I was raised in Utah. I never quite felt like I belonged in Utah so at age 27 I left and now I live in Florida. Near the ocean. I love it here. The weather gets nasty but that’s ok I love the wildlife that just overwhelms FL. it’s very inspiring.

I am a sculptress and miniaturist. I create Anthropomorphic animals and Teddy bears. Most of my works measure between 1/2 of an inch and 1 1/4 inches tall. I first sculpt them with polymer clay, Afterward, I add the fur fiber, then I paint them. All the characters are innocent like children. I often drawback to my own childhood memories for inspiration on what to create. I hope to bring those who view my works back to happy days of their own childhood.

I focus on creating positive work. It is very challenging. Negativity has a way of seeping in and surrounding you during idle times. But positive influences need to be discovered and achieved. You have to work to find positivity and happiness. My unusual name is not a Pen name. I am a sculptress and my last name happens to be Klay, spelled Klay. It is my real name, Klay is a Swiss Surname. My first name, Aleah is a derivative of the name Leah. My mother came to the decision of Aleah during a conversation with her friend. My mother’s friend asked “What are you going to name her” My mother said. “It’s between Eugene, and Uh…Leah.” My mom’s friend replied “Aleah is good.” and that was that. My mother did not forget the name Eugene and incorporated a similar name. My full name is Aleah Jean Klay, the perfect blend for an artist who is both American and Swiss. My name has worked out very well and in unintentional ways. I don’t know anyone else named Aleah Klay because of this it is very easy to find my artworks over the internet.

Go to eBay, type in my name….whatever listings I’ve got up will show, go to Google type in my name, you’ll get pages of links to my art. It’s the same for social networking sites. I am very lucky to have such a searchable name. it’s almost a type of accidental marketing. I guess it’s similar to a brand name. For artists who don’t have high visibility on Search engines go to google and type search engine visibility tips. You’ll find lots of pages written about how to improve your search visibility and rankings.

1. I did not know I was going to be a sculptress or miniaturist. As a kid, I was curious about how to create just about everything. I did a lot of arts and crafts. I come from VERY humble beginnings. I have 7 siblings and we grew up poor. So I’d sculpt using anything I could get my hands on. sometimes it was very odd materials items like cheese and potatoes. If you knead cheese in between your fingers it gets soft and pliable. At that point, it is possible to sculpt it. or cheese can be carved. For the potatoes, I’d either “play with mashed potato’s” Sculpt faces or scenery into them with my fork. or I’d take a peeler and carve an unbaked potato. I think I was 12 or so when I did these things. I remember building bird puppets out of string and paper. A few times I created doll’s dresses out of tissue paper. I made a witch doll out of old nylons and newspapers. A pet Hamster later found this doll and well the doll didn’t survive. When I was a teenager I had paper routes and sometimes I’d babysit. I used the money I earned to buy art materials. I can imagine how strange it must have looked to cashiers and store clerks when they saw 12-year-old buying oil paint, brushes, and palettes. I was definitely not a normal child. Most kids are buying the coolest new toys and video games at that age. Eventually, I bought a book called Incredible clay, It’s a kids activity book made by Klutz books. The book came with 10 blocks of polymer clay. I was 15. This book got me hooked on polymer clay and sculpting in a more serious manner. I had no idea at the time but looking back now, that book started my sculpting career.

2. In order to be successful, an artist needs to create art that stands out. It has to be a little different from what other artists are doing. My goal is to have people view my miniatures and know they are mine, not question who might have made them but know, I did make them. It is also important to pursue excellence in the quality of the artwork. I’ve found having that combination of being a little different and striving for excellence tends to get noticed by collectors and other artists. When people really notice your work, word of mouth advertising starts. Collectors show the artists works to their friends and family, and from that new collectors buy and so on it goes. This is the best type of advertising. It doesn’t cost anything and it’s no extra work for the artist.

3. I started selling my works to neighborhood kids and peers while I was in High School. After high school, I got a little more serious and started building my career through the internet. At the time I didn’t think in terms of a career I just hoped to be able to sell some of my miniatures. Being so young and not having the burden of mortgages, and bills made it easier to work as a full-time artist. The little money I made I put back into my business. I borrowed my mother’s computer and had a very cheap camera which took horrible photos. But I kept improving and eventually made enough to buy my own computer, a better camera, then move out on my own. It all just escalated according to what I could afford. I guess eBay really jump-started my career. Through eBay I started networking with other artists I joined a group called stands for custom, dolls, houses, and miniatures. It is a marketing group for doll artists and miniaturists. I advertise on Facebook and Twitter as well. Nearly all of my advertising is done over the internet.

4. I had to make small financial investments. Just the cost of buying materials, business supplies, and equipment. Nothing very major.

5. On Facebook, Twitter, occasionally through my mailing list and handing out business cards. I promote my work every day, mostly through the internet and social networking. I started to carry a mini wallet-sized photo album of my work. I never really know when someone will ask what I do and so this mini-album has been brought out in some very casual meetings. Post office workers, restaurant waitresses, random strangers have all seen my tiny album. Simply because they asked, what do I do for a living? It’s another cost-free way of advertising.

6. I’m horrible about asking for help, I am stubborn and also very shy. The advice I’ve gotten mostly came through books and artist tutorials. I have two sculpting books by Katherine Dewey, titled Creating Lifelike Figures in Polymer Clay. Both books are great for learning how to work with polymer clay. I’ve also picked up tips randomly through participating in chats, and forum discussions. Dozens of artists have given me advice over the years. I’ve not had much time for chats, and forums lately but I was very active in them years ago they are an excellent way to find advice and help. As well as a great way to network and find friends.

7. I’m very self-motivated, goal-oriented, and stubborn. A successful artist has to make themselves get up in the morning. There is no boss. No one will tell you what to do. You just have to get up and get to work. Self-motivation is a must when you work on your own. You have to find ways to get get rid of bad habits, attitudes, and negativity that would hold you back. I’ve recently started rewarding myself for getting up on time in the mornings. sometimes the reward will be going out to breakfast or taking a walk along the beach. It has to be something I enjoy enough to want to get up and do it. So then mornings are not about getting up to hurry and get a ton of work done. They are about getting up to go do something fun for a half hour or so. Afterward, I am awake and refreshed. I come home and get serious about my work. I used to work like a machine, this just leads to burn out, being tired all the time, misery and poorer quality in my artwork. I still work hard, and all hours of the day, morning or night. But the fun breaks make it easier to enjoy working so hard.

8. I am self -taught, for the most part. I did take some High school art classes but that is it. Education is important whether it’s school or personal research. I’ve been selling my works for the past ten years now and am still constantly looking out for new techniques, and doing research for current projects. I’ll look up info for everything. I make a lot of anthropomorphic animals and am always looking for animal anatomy, clothing, fashion info, and all kinds of random things, will differ for each specific project. I am my own worst critic and am constantly looking for ways to improve. I have and will continue to buy art books, instructions, and tutorials. I know they will lead to new techniques and new techniques allow for a sort of Artistic Freedom. A person can never know too much. I love feedback whether it’s a compliment or a critique. Either one is helpful and very much appreciated. I didn’t always like critiques but over the years I’ve come to understand how important they are. Sometimes I think we artists are blinded by our own egos. We might see a critique as an insult when it isn’t. It’s not always easy, but I try to separate myself from my art. I try to not take every little thing that is said about my art personally.

9. I had some of my works available in a consignment shop once. They just sat in the shop. I do a much better job on my own. I need to explore this area a little better though. I’m sure there are great consignment shops and galleries out there, which can sell art in a heartbeat. I’ve no experience with them yet. The internet has really changed the game in how art is sold. It’s no longer necessary to be represented by an agent or gallery. Although as I said earlier it is something I need to explore more.

10. I’d say what really jump-started my career was eBay. Through eBay, I found not only collectors but other artists and people with similar interests. Through eBay, I joined CDHM which is another very useful group. The Owner of that group Marlene Buffington works hard to promote artists. She does internet marketing as well as magazine submissions and artists can sell their works through The CDHM forum is a good place to go for help with creating miniatures and art dolls. I’ve always gotten fast responses from some very generous artists. Overall it’s just a good group of artists.

11. I’ve only skimmed through one book which has helped me very much. It’s titled I’d rather be in the studio written by Alyson B. Stanfield. I recommend it. Very good tips about marketing and running an art business in general. Other then that, the rest of what I’ve accomplished was done through trial and error.

12. Future plans, I will be working on more miniatures many more…can’t give you any details. I like to be a bit secretive about them. I’m also creating sculpting lessons and tutorials. The next one coming out will be a tutorial on sculpting a miniature dragon.

I can be found on Facebook by searching my name “Aleah Klay.”

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