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Nanci's Creative Castings

American Made Since 2006

Nanci Zablocki Shufritz

Toledo, Ohio
Cement leaf sculptures created by individually casting fresh leaves and blossoms from my own garden. Handpainted and handmade from the ground up!
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Tell us about your business.

I am a "Maniac Gardener" and self taught artist. I discovered a way to combine my creative ability (my background includes jewelry and beadwork design) with my love of Nature and the outdoors. This process (called sandcasting) seemed to be the perfect natural progression and blending of art and nature. Each leaf sculpture is cast in concrete from a fresh leaf ( 95% of which are grown in my own garden). As my husband would tell you, ONE picture in a magazine started this journey! Oddly enough, I believe it was the story Martha Stewart did on the sculptors Lewis and Little! Took one look at that photo of one of their sculptures and that was it. A little online research and I was on my way! I began casting plain raw concrete colored pieces. Hubby said he thought they were boring, so I added dye in the mix. He STILL didn't think they were that impressive, so I decided to try painting them (To shut him up! Ha!). Surprisingly, I discovered that I had an undiscovered talent..

Tell us about your workspace, shop, or studio.

My "studio" is very literally a picnic table in my backyard! Of course, being in N.W. Ohio, once the growing season is over and the cold weather moves in, I lose my source material, so in Autumn I start casting many leaves in the raw concrete mix, enough to keep me busy all winter painting them in my "other studio", AKA the laundry room!

What inspires you?

I am inspired by all the subtle shapes and colors found in the natural world, and of the idea of something ephemeral and organic captured in a medium that could theoretically last lifetimes.

What makes your business stand out?

While there are many other people out there casting leaves, I have refined my mix and technique during "nine years of trial and error", as I like to describe it. I rarely see anyone individually hand painting their sculptures as detailed as I like to make mine, which I believe turns them into real works of art. Each one is cast from a fresh leaf, and each is painted without a pattern or standard color palette, so that anyone acquiring one of my pieces will own a real O.O.A.K. (One Of A Kind) nature sculpture. Plus, leaves and flowers never go out of style!

What advice would you give an aspiring creative entrepreneur?

Don't give up ~ And don't wait!

What does American Made mean to you?

I think the name says it all! Honoring the craftspeople and idea makers in the U.S.A.!

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