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witchhunter.net -> figurenmacher -> sandra garrity, putty pushing mom

Name: Sandra Larue Garrity
Birth: 10/14/1945 Blackwell, Oklahoma, USA

Residence: New Carlisle, Ohio, USA
Household: 2 kids, a husband, 2 barn cats (strays that adopted me but can't come in the house because my daughter is allergic to them), a large copper colored horse named "Fire", and about a hundred tropical fish.

Short description: Horse loving, putty pushing, Mom
Long description: Full time artist who specializes in sculpture, has a passion for horses, and her kids.

Eating habits: I eat most everything, but I love fried chicken and chocolate the most.
Alkohol habits: Don't often drink it, but when I do I like Kahlua and cream over ice the most.
Favourite race to sculpt: I don't really have a favourite. I like them all.

Sandra Larue Garrity
Sandra Larue Garrity
Full time artist
...just click to enlarge...

Homepage Link: I don't have a web page of my own, but anyone wanting to find me can email me at sandra_garrity@yahoo.com , or simply type my name in to the Google search engine and find over two hundred listings for me, companies I've sculpted for and several other interviews that list my email address.

Miniatures made for: Reaper Miniatures Inc., Ral Partha, Lance & Laser Models Inc., Leading Edge Games, Game Lords Ltd., Alderic Entertainment Group (AEG), Thanes Games, Black Orc, Discount Hobby/Dark Ages Miniatures, Aspen Modeling Company, Talon Games(HAVIC), Guardians of Order, Rafm/Silver Fox, Dwarven Forge/Master Maze, Fantasy West, Franklin Mint, Danbury Mint, Rawcliffe Pewter/a division of Encore Group Inc., Fortress Figures Inc., Hasbro Toy Group, Spirit of the Empire, and private commisions

How would you describe yourself?

S.G.: I guess I'm "Mom". After all, my little green "children" (miniature sculpts) have wound up "working" for a lot of companies.

Barbarian King
Reaper Miniatures
Kurff the Swift
painted by Christian Weiss
click to see more

Shanon, The Barbarian Queen
Reaper Miniatures
Shanon, The Barbarian Queen
painted by witchhunter
...just click to enlarge...

You have a degree in art. What were you going to do with it? What were your plans or desires at that time of your life?

S.G.: Actually, I have a degree in art education with a minor in psychology. I'd always dreamed of becoming an artist, but when I was just starting college in the early 1960s, I was strongly discouraged from going into art as a profession. I was told I'd "starve" as an artist, that only about 1% of those who go into art can make a living at it. I was told to be an art teacher instead. So, being young and timid, I became an art teacher at a local elementary school. I loved the kids and teaching, but found I wanted to be doing the art projects rather than teaching others how to do them.

Do you remember the day you have decided to become a miniature designer?

S.G.: Oh yes. It was less of a decision than a necessity. My husband had retired from the US air Force, thinking he had a job with a civilian firm that had a government contract. Well, our Congress cancelled the funding for the program and so, there was suddenly no job.
An artist friend of mine told me I should go to Ral Partha and interview. I did, and ultimately took on some freelance sculpture work with them, then after a year was asked to go on staff as a sculptor.

If you didn't have a degree, would you still be able to be a miniature designer too?

S.G.: Having an art degree was not much help in doing the miniatures. While it was good to have a basic art background, learning to work the epoxy putties and make the minis in ways that would be possible to reproduce has been far more important in the end.

Is it hard work, earning your living this way?

S.G.: It is hard work, but hey, it's fun to say that you earn a living squishing plumber's putty. (The main putty used now by most of us was originally sold as a plumber's putty.) Miniature sculptors don't make a lot of money, as a rule. Those of us, who work really long hours and produce a lot of minis, obviously make more than those who produce less. My workweek us usually 60-80 hours long, depending on what projects are underway.

Do you work at night or during the day?

S.G.: Both! I start work in the morning-between 7:30AM and 9:30AM and work (with a few breaks) until 1AM-3AM. How early I start in the morning depends on how late I work the night before. The actual time spent on sculpting and business matters normally runs about 12-14 hours a day almost every day. I take Sunday mornings off as a rule and don't start till about noon.

Barbarian King
Reaper Miniatures
Rax Darkculler, Evil Priest

KING & QUEEN Lance & Laser
Lance & Laser Models
King & Queen
click to enlarge

How long goes it take you to sculpt a 28mm miniature?

S.G.: It takes me anywhere from 12 to 18 hours to do a 28mm scale figure. Most of the current 28mm scale figures are now really 30-33mm in reality. The required time for any individual fig is dependant on the amount of detail on that figure

Do you have any tips for an amateur designer?

S.G.: First of all, if your first attempts don't come out good, don't get discouraged. The materials that we have to use take a lot of practice to learn how to make them work. Practice, practice, and practice! Ask other sculptors for advice.

Do you have a favourite miniature?

S.G.: No, I really don't think I have a real favorite. Each mini I do is sort of practice for the next one. By the time they leave my studio, I am sure they are awful and if "I only had one more day, they'd be so much better!"

Do you like to paint your own miniatures? Do you paint any miniatures at all?

S.G.: I haven't painted too many miniatures, but when I have had the chance, I have thoroughly enjoyed it. I mostly don't paint because my clients keep me too busy sculpting.

How do you feel about your sculpts being painted by other peoples?

S.G.: I dearly love seeing how others have painted my little "children". The way they are painted can make them look so different-like different figures almost. Seeing all these different ways of painting my figs is lots of fun for me.

Leading Edge Games
Leading Edge Games
Living Steel Heavy Power Armor
painted by Jay Adan
...click to see more...

Thanes Games Wolfen 15 mm
Thanes Games 15 mm
Wolfen Standard Bearer
click to see more little wolfen
sculpted by Sandra

Which tools do you use? Which putties do you use?

S.G.: I use several different tools: an Exacto blade tool (Blade dulled), a double-ended spoon shaped tool, wire loop tool made from piano wire and brass rod, several different sizes of needle pointed tools, and a small paint brush for smoothing. I have a bunch of other tools too, but seldom use them.

What is your most important trick for sculpting?

S.G.: Moisten your tools with water or spit(sounds icky doesn't it?)and work in layers, allowing your layers(underpinning) to cure before trying to add surface details. Learn what techniques can be done at the various stages of curing (hardness) of the putty. Yes, these are three things, but they are all important, honestly!

Which mini would you like to make?

S.G.: Wow! I don't know, really. I guess it would depend on what I'm offered by my clients or potential clients. I do have some of my own dragon designs that I would like to have time to finish.

Do you have a favourite sculptor?

S.G.: Now this is a really hard question for me because there are a lot of very fine sculptors out there that I admire very much. But, if it were to be brought down to just one, it would be the legendary Julie Guthrie. She has been one of the leading US sculptors and is in the Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts & Design Hall of Fame. Although, she does most of her work now in the toy industry, she still provides some beautiful minis to one or two companies in the gaming industry when her time allows.

Have you been influenced by other artists and if so, how?

S.G.: Tom Meier and Julie Guthrie have both influenced my work, as have some of the old masters, such as Michaelangelo. Tom Meier is the best at using the green putty that he made a standard in the industry. His skill at using this medium is nothing short of amazing! Julie Guthrie has not only shown me how to do techniques to improve my work, but also been a dear friend and inspiration to me for many years.

Panthera Tribe: Giant Saber-toothed Tiger
Black Orc Games
Giant Saber-toothed Tiger
click to see more

Guardians of Order -  Jade Naga

How would you characterize your influence in the miniatures business?

S.G.: I honestly don't know what influence I have had, if any, in the miniatures business. I would like to think that my work has proved to be an asset for my clients and my minis have given the people who have purchased them enjoyment.

Your miniatures design has changed over the years. How would you describe this change?

S.G.: Well, gosh, I hope I've gotten better! When I look at my earlier stuff, I cringe! They look just awful to me! The thing is, I have never once had a piece leave my studio that I thought was perfect. I always see things that I would do differently if I had the time and didn't need to meet a deadline.

Moses Limited Edition Discounthobby.com
Moses Limited Edition
painted by Roger O'Dell
click to enlarge

You have designed a lot of women, elves and other beautiful mythical figures. One of your newest miniatures, the two headed troll (I love him!) isn't quite typical for you. Are you fed up with beauty and perfection?

S.G.: I still like doing the 'handsome and beautiful', but we all need a bit of variety in life. So, I kept begging the art director at Reaper Miniatures to let me do some "icky" things-hence the two headed troll, "Lardgulp". Watch for more dragons and other critters from me through my various clients I am being given a nice variety of things to do in addition to my handsome and beautiful guys and gals.

What did it feel to sculpt a biblical character (Moses)?

S.G.: I've sculpted many angels in the past, and even done a limited-release Nativity Set, so Moses is not my first Biblical figure. They certainly provide a nice change from the demons, trolls, and dragons that I often seem to be doing.

In my opinion, we are living in the golden age of metal miniatures. The business is steadily growing and there is no end in sight. How do you see the actual situation of the market?

S.G.: Since I started sculpting in the miniatures industry in 1989, I have seen the industry have several ups and downs. The Golden Age of the miniatures industry really seemed to be in the late 70s and 80s followed by a major drop around '93 when there was a big fuss over the minis having lead in them and everyone had to go to lead free alloys. Then the Magic cards dealt minis a hard blow. Things have slowly rebounded and the last few years, miniature sales again seem strong. Now, also the bar has been raised in regards to the quality of sculpting and castings. I think the public will continues to buy as long as the minis are well done and properly promoted by the manufacturers.

Sandy Garrity's
Hammibal Hamster
Fortress Figures

Two Headed Troll Lardgulp
Reaper Miniatures
Two Headed Troll Lardgulp
Painted by witchhunter

How do you think the miniature business will develop? Do you see the possibility, that the future market will be overtaken by few big companies and the freelances like yourself will be forced to give up their free status or go down?

S.G.: I think there will always be freelance sculptors because even big companies outsource jobs. It is often far less expensive for them to subcontract work out than provide employee benefits, etc. Also, sculptors are needed in far more industries than gaming miniatures.
I can see the possibility that a few big companies might try to take over the industry, but there will always be the little guy who comes in, produces a fine product and manages his business cleverly enough to be a serious competitor.

Do you have any plans to create your own miniatures company?

S.G.: It has crossed my mind from time to time, but it would mean I'd have do far more business stuff and less sculpting. Now, I do what I love, the sculpting. I love my clients and they are wonderful to me. They do what they are good at-manufacturing and marketing and I am free to sculpt.

What would you like to do, if you weren't a miniatures designer?

S.G.: I would go back to being a freelance sculptor and painter, showing in galleries, doing private commissions, and doing art shows.

Sandra Garrity
"Nobody said that sculptors
have to be serious all the time"
Sandra Garrity
...just click to enlarge...

a Green
Encore Group, Rawcliffe Division.
Part of Sandra Garrity personal line of figures
...just click to enlarge...

Would you like to be a mini designer again?

S.G.: Yes! I love the work and all the wonderful people I have met since I started working in the industry. If I had to do it all over again and I knew what my life in this industry would be like, I would definitely choose this path again.

You don`t have a web page, any plans to do so?

S.G.: I actually do not have the time to keep up a web page. But the main thing is that I am not very computer literate and don't have time to learn how to do a web page. Most of the people who would contract with me for work can find me by contacting my client companies or running a Google search on the Web.

What is your current project?

S.G.: I just finished a giant eagle for Reaper Miniatures, which will probably only be available directly from them through their website. I'm currently doing two more figures for them: a centaur and a young human mage. I'm also working on a set of French Grenadiers for Grognard Miniatures in France.

What are your plans for the future?

S.G.: I plan to continue my work as a sculptor and freelance artist, enjoy my family and friends, and do my best for all those who have had faith in me, both professionally and personally.

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