Spotlight On: Colette Pitcher

Spotlight On: Colette Pitcher

Colette PitcherColette Pitcher is the owner of Showcase Art Center in Greeley, Colorado. It’s a gallery and an art resource center, where you can not only admire and buy art, but you can buy art supplies and take art classes as well.

Hot Wire Foam Factory: First we’ll start with “who is Colette?”

Colette Pitcher: I am a lifelong artist. I am someone who spreads creativity, spirituality, joy and smiles. That is a question one spends their whole life answering.

Watercolor ducks

HWFF: There’s no doubt about your smile! I am glad to have seen it face to face! When and where did you start the pursuit of art?

CP: There is not a clear starting point for me. I always drew, painted, crafted and kept my hands busy. I was the kid in high school that drew and designed logos. That led to a scholarship in art and English, and I majored in art in college. My first job was as a graphic designer. The doors always opened to the art field for me.

HWFF: There has to be talent for the doors to open which, girl, you’ve got! What is your current creative endeavor?

Firefighter Bronze SculptureCP: I hope to take my life-size bronze firefighter titled “Every Day a Hero” to New York for placement on the tenth anniversary of 9/11. Our district of Rotary is partnering with a club in Manhattan to accomplish this task. It will send a message that mid-America remembers and cares.

HWFF: That is so awesome! Is there a particular reason you chose to do that piece?

CP: It affected us deeply as it did all Americans. My husband Gary works with a man named Dale that is a volunteer firefighter. They have been friends and coworkers for a long time. Dale posed for the sculpture and works at the foundry that produced it.

HWFF: How long did it take you to do? Can you describe the process for those who aren’t sculptors?

CP: Each year we go to the Loveland Sculpture Invitational. It is the largest show of its kind in the world. It happens the first weekend in August. It is our goal to have new works debut at this show. That means we have to have the sculpture finished in February to have enough time to mould the piece, cast it in wax, make an investment shell, pour it in bronze, weld it back in shape, metal chase it, sandblast it, and add patina with heat and chemicals, and make a base for it. It is crazy hard work. You essentially sculpt the work three times. Once in clay, once in wax (to make it hollow), and finally in metal.

Native american sculpture
Native American Sculpture

HWFF: Where does the foam fit in?

CP: I use foam to shape the work first. The very first thing for a large piece is to make a armature or skeleton for support. This is usually a welded rebar stick figure. Then I bulk it up with foam. The Hot Wire Foam Factory tools help shape the foam to a rough shape. I use layers of 2-4″ sheets of foam and laminate big blocks using the Foam Fusion glue. Then I use the Pro Hot Knife, the Bow Cutter, and the other hand tools to carve the foam to a rough form. I work in a garage that lets me open the door for ventilation, so that’s why I wait until some nice weather, but Colorado is pretty nice year-round. Then the foam is covered in a thin layer of clay that holds the detail work.

HWFF: And this was just one step? Then you move on to the wax figure?

CP: If you didn’t have a foundry in your backyard like I do, you could finish the piece with Foam Coat and make a one of a kind piece of art. Making a mould allows multiple copies to be made without re-sculpting.

HWFF: Do you have replicas of the fireman made? Are they for sale?

CP: After you are happy with the clay sculpture, you make a mould. It is painted with layers of latex rubber or silicone and backed with plaster. This is called the “Mother Mould.” The mould is very expensive – maybe $10K for a life-size sculpture like the firefighter. So to spread the cost out, the sculptor can make multiple casts. There will be 18 in the edition of the firefighter.

Bronze Firefighter SculptureHWFF: And if someone wanted to partner with you on the original how would they?

CP: The foundry makes a wax replica for each metal casting. We have made a small maquette that is about 12″ high. It can be sold to a group to fundraise a life-size monument. We hope to sell 30 small pieces at $1500 to underwrite the New York edition. Other editions can be produced in a similar fashion.

HWFF: Would they call your store?

CP: The base is engraved with the city name and whatever else they choose. The firefighter can be customized to include a helmet insignia or the name of someone or a place on the back of the coat.

I can be reached at 1-970-356-8593. The foundry is 1-970-454-5588 or they can e-mail me at Colette@ColettePitcher.com

HWFF: So someone could personalize it for a loved one who served at the site of 9/11, how cool! The piece is fantastic, thank you for your time with us today. Do you have a word or words of encouragement for an up-and-coming artist?

CP: Be persistent. Remember you have the ability to move mountains as an artist! Thanks for making such great products that help with the process too!

HWFF: See you in Loveland! Will you be at the NAMTA (National Art Materials Trade Association) Convention? It’s in AZ this spring.

CP: I will be there again this year, so see you there!