Starpoint 11th grader, Sara Danwin's fascination for dragons has proven to be very lucrative for her. Using an oven bake polymer clay called Sculpey, the 15-year-old artist has been sculpting the mythical creatures and selling them at local craft fairs. At this year's annual Starpoint Art and Craft Fair alone, she made over $500.
"It was my fifth year of participating in that event. It worked out very well for me, so I have been doing it ever since," Danwin said.
She likes to work with Sculpey because it is pliable. "You have to bake the clay to make it very hard and the colors are very bright, so it is a very nice medium to work with," she said.
About four years ago, she was inspired to create dragons by an Instagram post. "I thought it was the coolest thing. I started trying it and I really like it, so that is mostly what I make now."
She has also started painting gift boxes for when someone purchases her creations. "I used to buy my boxes from Etsy and then I started painting them with sunsets, UFOs and desert scenes. I wanted my customers to be able to reuse them or package my sculptures up in them."
Sara was in fourth grade when she first started working with clay with Starpoint studio art and digital multimedia teacher Kelly Tomasello. She said Tomasello continues to inspire her.
"Our class has helped me practice and whenever we use Sculpey, it helps to refine my technique. Even with painting and drawing, I learn more about colors," she said.
She is also a gifted illustrator and recently completed an "Alice in Wonderland" mural in the high school art classroom.
"In Mrs. Tomasello's old room she had a mural of that story and I have always loved 'Alice in Wonderland' because I just think it is fun and bright. So she asked me to do a mural in her new classroom before I left high school," she said.
"I have been thinking about what makes Sara different from the rest of my students," said Tomasello. "I teach a lot of talented and creative students, but Sara is the one who keeps pushing herself. Usually when I ask my students what art work they worked on over the summer most of them say they worked on nothing. But Sara is always working on something. She has the perseverance and that work ethic and if she wanted to make a living out of being an artist, I have no doubt that she could. It is unbelievably impressive that she could make $500 at a school art show. I am so proud of her. She has got the talent and the work ethic where she really could make a career out of this."
When asked about her future plans, she said she is not sure if art is the direction she is going to go in.
"I don't exactly know yet. I really do enjoy doing it and I think if I worked hard enough, I could make a living out of it. I don't know if I want to go to college for that or for veterinarian science," Danwin said.
There is no doubt that her artwork will always have an important role in her life.
"Art to me, kind of helps me to express things. Even when I am feeling down or upset, it helps me to channel everything into one thing. It's just a really nice medium for me to have found," she said.
Anyone interested in checking out Sara's dragons and other sculptures can catch her from noon to 5:00 p.m. on Aug. 4 at the fifth annual Oliver Street Art Festival between Schenck and Robinson streets in North Tonawanda. Or you can email her at [email protected]