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My Other Life: Lydia McCarthy, Statuary Character Creator

by Katherine Fleming | November 29, 2018

For Lydia McCarthy of Queenstown, New Zealand, the idea of making concrete statues started as an idle conversation between friends over a glass of wine. Her friends had recently seen some concrete cricketers, and, “as we were talking about them, I decided ‘I could make those,’” explains McCarthy. “The next day I started looking into it and ordered a few small molds as practice.” She got started with the help of YouTube how-to videos. “It snowballed from there,” she says. “I knew it was getting serious when I bought a concrete mixer!”

The statues are made using latex and fiberglass molds, while some of her planters are created using a draping technique that allows McCarthy to free-form the design. She sells her pieces online and at local markets. “Smaller pieces like the small figures and chess sets are purchased by locals and tourists alike, while the bigger pieces are usually only sold closer to home,” she says. The biggest challenge is weather-related: “It’s hard to get motivated when it’s cold outside and you know you have to get out and pour concrete,” says McCarthy. “But you have to make the big items in spring to be ready for the summer markets.”

She enjoys painting and creating characters as a creative outlet. “The pleasure really comes from just creating,” she says. “Being able to look at a finished piece and know ‘I made that.’” Although she makes a variety of statues, the cricketers are still her favorite. “They have such character, you can’t help but smile,” she says. “They make a great conversation starter.”

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