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Peggy Kauffman

Peggy Kauffman

by Joseph Montebello

Whether it’s four-legged or two legged, artist Peggy Kauffman can capture the essence of her subject in bronze. While horses are her first love, she has created likenesses of dogs, cats, cattle, oh, and people, too.

“I’ve always loved horses. I grew up in Greenwich and went to Rosemary Hall and Bennett College in Millbrook. I was encouraged to pursue art, which was my passion. But those horses! Bennett gave me the opportunity to indulge myself in both areas," Kauffman explained.

She rode horses all through her twenties and one day a woman she knew in New Jersey introduced her to Peggy and Bill Wynans who owned Fox Run, a store that specialized in all things equestrian. They encouraged her to do a bronze animal for them. The owners wanted more; one bronze led to another and another. And that’s how her extraordinary art career began. The Wynans, who attended all the horse shows, began getting Kauffman more commissions and she segued into making bronzes of people as well.

Most of her pieces measure three feet or under. Regardless of the size, however, she follows the same procedure for capturing its essence. “I go out and do some quick sketches and take notes of features that stand out and jot down things the owner has told me about the animal’s personality. I then take photographs from every single angle and in various stances. Then I begin the first step of creating the clay model."

That’s only the beginning. Depending on the size desired, Kauffman’s pieces can take anywhere from 100 to 150 hours. A life-size fox can require 350 hours plus foundry time. While most of her pieces are not life-size, she has created ten true-to-size dogs.

Kauffman works primarily in bronze and begins with an oil-based clay. There is an armature underneath to give it necessary support. In most cases, the foundry will make three wax copies of a piece which Kauffman inspects and makes any necessary changes.

“It’s a fascinating process," Kauffman said. “All of the people who work at the foundry are artists and craftsmen in their own right. I’m now using a foundry in Baltimore and encourage my clients to visit the foundry while their piece is being fired. Then they can see how it’s done. Watching the molten metal being poured is so exciting, and seeing the end result is amazing."

Although the main thrust of her commissions is dogs, Kauffman would love to do a life-size horse. It would have to be done in sections. Perhaps she might start with one of her own horses.

“Although I no longer ride," she said, “I still have two horses in my backyard. One used to compete but is now 32-years old. The other is a rescue horse. I always wanted to save a horse that had broken down at the track and that’s what he is. They are truly incredible animals."

While Kauffman relies on her website and word-of-mouth for her commission she does participate in Fitch’s Market, part of the events at Fitch’s Corner in Millbrook. There she has a booth displaying some of her sculptures.

“It’s great exposure for me and tickets to the events help support the Millbrook Ambulance Squad," Kauffman said. “Even if I don’t sell anything, I meet people who take my card, and, who knows, months from now, I’ll get a call to do a new piece."

Publisher's Note: Peggy also creates wonderful pastel portraits.

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