Wolf with Moon
Meet the Designer-Artist
As a multimedia designer, Kaaren Poole is an inspiration to designer-artists who want to use their jewelry-making passion to help charities close to their hearts. Through her creative endeavors, Kaaren supports animal rescue programs and founded her own non-profit organization, Wild Hare Art for Animals.
''Creating artistically is the most satisfying part of my life and gives me a sense of purpose and worth. I believe it is what I am meant to do. Wild Hare Art for Animals combines my love of art with my love of animals and is now the focus of my professional and creative life.''
Kaaren's goal is to be competent in several media, so when designing, she can choose the medium that best fits her design concept. She works in graphite, colored pencil and acrylics, and in 2005, she and her daughter learned to bead and bead appliqué.
In 2008, Kaaren was introduced to polymer clay. She took an online class with polymer clay expert Christi Friesen and was instantly enthralled. ''My favorite technique is to combine polymer clay animals, bead appliqué and beading in one piece. In my drawing and painting, I work in a very tight way with detailed planning and proceed methodically. When I began working with polymer clay, it was a total surprise that I felt no need to plan. In fact, I had an aversion to it! My way of working with clay is very loose, just working from a concept and letting the clay lead the way. I find the tactile quality of working with clay very soothing, and the joy of creating something is good for the soul.''
As an active member of the arts community, along with her charitable efforts, Kaaren leads a busy ''retired'' life. She is a member of and recording secretary for the International Polymer Clay Association (IPCA), formerly National Polymer Clay Guild. She is active with the local art group, the Placerville Arts Association, serving as the membership chairman and member show chairman. Kaaren also volunteers with the Sierra Wildlife Rescue, in addition to managing and designing for her non-profit organization.
As seen on the back cover of Polymer Café magazine, April 2009, Parrot Paradise, was the feature for the Fire Mountain Gems and Beads advertisement. Kaaren was awarded the silver medal in the Kato Polyclay™ category of the 2008 Fire Mountain Gems and Beads Beading Contest for this striking home décor piece.
Just like her other polymer clay designs, Parrot Paradise is the result of letting the clay be her guide.
''One day, while shopping in Michaels, I saw glass votives and thought it would be fun covering them with translucent clay and seeing if the candlelight would show through. About the same time, I was toying with a design for a necklace centerpiece built around images inspired by photographs of parrots nesting in crevices on a rocky cliff. Then the two concepts came together-- votive, yes, translucent clay, no; parrots nesting, yes, necklace, no. So, a votive covered with nesting parrots!
''Once I had the concept, it was just a matter of doing it. I covered the votive with a thin sheet of clay, modeled the parrot heads and stuck them on randomly, then worked the vines and leaves around them. I liked the uneven bottom edge that emerged, so I cut away the base layer of clay. There were gaps in some places that were tricky to cover, so I cut away the base layer for little ''windows.'' It seemed to need something more, and the parrots said, how about a parrot pair for the rim?
''The crystals hanging from their beaks is another example of my fascination with the idea of animals carrying treasures. As I think more about this image, I think it is a representation of the gifts of joy and wonder that the animals' presence gives to me.''
Kaaren was awarded many other honors in the polymer clay community in 2008. She was a finalist in Amaco's Bottles of Hope competition for Hope on a Rope (necklace), Bead and Button Bead Dreams competition for MacGregor's Garden (necklace) and the National Polymer Clay Guild's ''Progress and Possibilities'' competition for Feline Ceremonial Collar and Headdress (wall art).
In 2009, Kaaren entered two pieces in the Fire Mountain Gems and Beads Beading Contest-- Easter Egg Ornament and Goldfish Glory - in the Kato Polyclay™ category.
Of all her intricate designs, Kaaren is most proud of her necklace Wolf with Moon. She created every part of it--by sculpting the wolf's head with polymer clay and creating the cabochon ''moon'' by grinding the stone. She then appliquéd the wolf and moon on Lacy's Stiff Stuff™ using coordinating seed beads. The finishing touch was the small garnet dangle from the wolf's mouth, a look that's becoming Kaaren's signature. ''This piece employs so many different techniques and I am proud that I have been able to combine them so that each component enhances the others.''
Charity and Community Involvement
''I identified the things that were truly important to me--creativity, working for a cause, teaching, animals, and achievement. One night, I realized that there was actually a single endeavor that could combine all these drives--creating art with the message of seeing animals as our brothers and sisters, then selling the art and giving the proceeds to animal charities, all through the vehicle of a non-profit organization. So Wild Hare Art for Animals was born. All proceeds from my art go to the animals. I donate my time and materials. Now that I have my non-profit status, I am planning to solicit organizations for modest donations so that I can afford more up-scale materials for my jewelry.''
Starting a non-profit organization took time. The legal process of setting up a corporation and obtaining non-profit status from the state and the IRS consumed nearly a year of Kaaren's life.
''First, I had to establish a corporation here in the state of California and apply for an EIN (Employer Identification Number) from the IRS. Once the corporation existed as a legal entity, I could apply for non-profit status with the state of California and the IRS--and arduous and lengthy process. During that time in 2008, I focused on building my status as an artist.
''I selected the organizations that Wild Hare would support from my own personal experience. Agee Memorial is a local cat shelter started and run by a dear friend. I have worked as a volunteer with Sierra Wildlife Rescue and have admired the dedication of so many volunteers to the welfare of the wild members of our animal family. Idaho Bear Rehab is an organization I found on the web while researching bears and I am impressed by how well they benefit the bears--one of my favorite animals.
''Once my non-profit status was approved, I began working more on marketing. My pieces are generally priced too high for crafts fairs, but I am participating in studio art tours and am hoping to be juried into Crocker Art Museum's holiday artisan show. Promoting my website is a major issue. Advertising is expensive and finding the right approach is an art in itself. However, Google® has an advertising grant program for non-profits for which I am applying. I will also be working on my website to make it more visible to search engines.
''I have sought and received publicity locally, and have donated several pieces to fundraising events for non-profits such as Sierra Wildlife Rescue, PAWS (Performing Animal Welfare Society) and the new Sacramento Chapter of Suicide Prevention (not an animal charity, but one near to a friend's heart). I am also creating a line of less expensive jewelry, which I think is important for increasing sales.''
Advice for Designer-Artists Wishing to Support Charities
''For those of you who want to use your jewelry-making passion to help make a difference, donating pieces to fundraisers for causes that are important to you is a great way to use your talents to help make a difference.
''You can support directly by donating pieces to auctions. I recently donated a necklace and earrings set to a fundraiser auction and it sold for over $300--all of which went directly to the charity.
''Or you can support indirectly. Several organizations, notably Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure®, sponsor walks or runs where each participant must raise a certain amount of money to participate. You can help those individual participants in their fundraisers. My daughter did the 60-mile walk for several years and each year had to raise around $2,000. Some years I donated beaded pieces to an auction that her group held. Other years I made small ''thank you'' gifts that she gave to her contributors.
''One final piece of advice--never sell or donate a piece you care about without first taking a picture. I sent off my beloved Hi, my name is Hope necklace to the Bottles of Hope competition without taking photos. I never saw that piece again because all the entries were auctioned to benefit cancer research. That piece was a finalist and I have no record of it!''
Kaaren was awarded Silver Medal Prize Winner in the Kato Polyclay™ category of the 2009 Fire Mountain Gems and Beads Beading Contest for her design, Easter Egg Ornament . View more of Kaaren's art in the Gallery of Designs and visit her website at wildharestudio.org for more information on Wild Hare Art for Animals.