Les Polinko

Life's Sweet Adventures!

My name is LES Polinko and I am a Fantasy Sculptor. I have also been referred to as a Fairy Artist and a Creature Maker, both would be true. This makes me a perfect fit for this wonderful Christmas show, for after all there is none more magical than Santa! When you visit my booth you will find all manner of Holiday creatures including Frost Bites, Winter Trolls, Jingle-Bell Rocks, Christmas Trees in Training, and the ever popular GLUMP (Grumpy Lump of Coal.) You will also find sleeping baby fairies, peaceful dragons, grouchy mandrakes, Ents and many more whimsical creatures - all up for adoption! Be sure to stop by and see us!

My original creations are all hand-sculpted. My main medium is polymer clay with mixed media, including resin and epoxy clays. I am inspired by fairy tales, dreams, child wonderment, and nature. My father is a Horticulture Professor, so it is no surprise that so much of my work is nature based. There was never a vacation that we went on where we were not admiring and identifying different trees and flowers. My fondest childhood memories are of visiting Dad at work and walking through his incredible greenhouses. I was young and eye level to many of the planters. The air in there was humid and fresh. My favorite areas had tiny water plants. For me, it was like peeking into an amazing miniature world! I guess it has always stayed with me.

I live with my husband, two children, and three cats in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I work full time as an artist. My studio, which I have joyfully turned into a Hobbit Hole, is located in the Borough of Swissvale. Formally, I am an internationally awarded sculptor, illustrator, and teacher. Examples of my work can be seen on my website (www.lespolinko.com) and in various publications and journals. You can also follow me on Facebook and Instagram (@lespolinko.) I have degrees from Purdue University in Fine Art Painting, Drawing, Art History and Art Education. Most recently I have also become a Food Network Champion for the Network series ‘Winner Cake All!’

Late last summer, one of my best friends and Frosted-Envy bakery owner, Cathy Burnheimer, “volun-told” me that she had signed us up for a Food Network Challenge. I said, “Okay Cathy, just throw it on the pile!” Little did I know then that we would pass all of our interviews and get cast for the show. By October, right before opening weekend for Christmas in the Woods, we were on a plane to Los Angeles. The tricky thing about this adventure was that I had no experience in sculpting food! I acquired most of my knowledge streaming YouTube cake videos the month prior. The challenge was to create a sculpted cake in honor of the third anniversary of the popular Broadway show, “Broadway Princess Party.” Even though I had no experience using modeling chocolate I was able to use my knowledge of sculpture to design something that looked like less of a cake and more of what I create. Between Cathy’s expertise of fondant-work and baking combined with my structural and sculpting skill we managed to pull out a WIN! It was a true team effort for one of us could not have succeeded without the other. It was both an exhilarating and terrifying experience, one we will never forget and are so grateful for! Our episode aired in January 2019. You can see our Fairy Tale ending online on the Food Network’s ‘Winner Cake All,’ episode 4. I promise, it is very entertaining!

Life is quite a wonderful thing! One day you may be smelling and sketching the Roses then the next Giada De Laurentiis may be yelling at you that “you have 20 more minutes!” Either way it is an adventure and every adventure has challenges. The point is to always go on the adventure. You will get discouraged at times, just try to get back on your path as quickly as possible. I like to think that it’s part of my job to help! I often describe my creatures as ‘little bits of joy.’ Life can be tough, so I create happy things for people. Many of my buyers have told me that they like to take their creatures to work with them. That way when things get tough they always have someone on their side, smiling at them. Unless they bought a GLUMP (then it’s just commiseration!) All joking aside, creating things that uplift others is a true privilege and I am truly grateful that this is my job!