logo Kit Cropper Studios

We began designing, molding and casting fantasy houses, vignettes and background scenes in 1994, our material of choice being hydrostone, the finest and hardest of all the gypsum compounds. Hydrostone is a very difficult material to learn to cast with , but it gives the look that we felt our pieces needed, particularly in the way it absorbs color.
The look we try to get with all of our pieces we call "storybook". Like a magical scene you would find in the pages of a child's storybook, we want our work to draw you into the fantasy.

 

As a child, Kit loved the illustrations in the books she read. The artists and illustrators who have been an influence on her work include Jessie Wilcox Smith, Arthur Rackham, Maxfield Parrish, N.C. Wyeth, Trina Schart Hyman, Michael Hague, Scott Gustafson and James Christensen. Though their styles are all quite different, they all see the world through a wonder-coated lens. Kit strives to give her work that same storybook quality, a certain look that beckons the viewer to enter the scene and let their imagination take flight.
Creating a Display

1. Sculpting

Kit sculpts/builds the original using a variety of materials: wood, matt board, paperclay, real tree bark, tree roots, cork, paper and stone. This process can take anywhere from several days to several weeks, depending on the complexity of the piece. The picture to the right is the original of Mouse Manor.

2. Making a latex mold

We then brush latex over the original in very thin coats, eventually creating a thick layer of latex. This usually takes 7-10 days.

3.Making "mother mold"

Next we pour a silicone rubber mold over the latex mold. Then we pour a plaster "mother mold" over all, de-mold the original and vulcanize the latex. The entire molding process from start to finish takes approximately 2 weeks.

4.Casting

Now the piece is cast in hydrostone and meticulously cleaned. The cast will need 7-10 days of drying time before the painting/finishing process can begin.

5. Painting

Kit applies the color in a series of washes, done with different shades of thinned-down acrylic paint, building up the color one layer at a time. She applies all the color washes with a sable brush, working slowly and carefully over the piece. The end colors that you see on the piece result from layers of many different washes applied one at a time.

Unlike ordinary painting where an opaque layer of paint is applied to the surface, Kit's technique allows the paint to penetrate the hydrostone one thin "watery" layer at a time. The building- up of these layers of color create a rich blend and variety of shades which adds a subtleness and complexity to the painting. Because the hydrostone cast will always vary somewhat in density and porosity, no two pieces will ever be painted exactly alike. This has the effect of making each piece a "one-of-a-kind".

 

 

6. Varnishing

Kit then applies 3 finishing coats of a water-based varnish (using a sable brush) and then she signs and dates each piece.

Here is a photo of Kit applying the finishing coat of varnish on the Mouse Manor. She likes to do this outside on nice days and I like to sneak up on her with my camera