It is remarkable how a dramatic piece of artwork can be created with simple everyday objects such as an old shirt, aluminum foil, tape, and a liquid fabric hardener. Paverpol art is a process by which a natural fibre is dipped into a liquid hardener, called Paverpol, and used to produce original artistic creations. Artist and Paverpol instructor, Tamara Plugers from Paverpol Niagara, has been sculpting for the past six years. “What is unique to Paverpol is that it has the ability to give beginners and novice artists an original way to use their imagination to create exquisite pieces of art,” says Plugers. 

After being intrigued by a sculpture she noticed in her aunt’s home, Plugers became interested in Paverpol art. “My aunt, who is a sculptor in Niagara-on-the-Lake, was travelling in the Netherlands and she swapped art pieces with an artist from Holland,” explains Plugers. “When she came back, the Paverpol statue was on her mantle and I fell in love with it.” A seamstress by trade, Plugers was fascinated with the use of fabric in the Paverpol artwork. “I started sewing when I was 11 years old. I was always playing with fabric. When I saw the natural draping of the fabric in the Paverpol art, I knew it was something I had to do,” explains Plugers.  “The amazing texture and the way the fabric drapes and falls made me say, ‘Wow.’”

Paverpol is an environmentally friendly, one-step, non-toxic product. “When a natural fibre is dipped into the Paverpol, it will harden and become water proof. It will not fade, discolour, or rust and can be outside 12 months of the year,” says Plugers. “I have had a heron in my garden for six years and people are amazed it hasn’t rusted.”

A piece of Paverpol art appears to have taken several days or weeks to create, however, that is much to the contrary. “It is actually very easy. I start off with a wire armature made from electrical wire or rebar. The creation then gets wrapped with aluminum foil and taped. This is what makes up the meat of the sculpture,” explains Plugers. “From there, the armature is wrapped with strips of fabric dipped in the Paverpol. As the strips are wrapped around the sculpture they overlap creating the shape.”

Plugers adds that there is a number of ways to create and dress the sculpture. “If you decide to put clothes on the sculpture, you can use a coloured fabric dipped in transparent Paverpol,” explains Plugers. Paverpol comes in grey, black, bronze, flesh toned, and transparent, and once dry, can be painted with regular paint to add a vibrant finish.

When asked which of the types of Paverpol art she likes to work with Plugers responds, “I love to create the herons. I find them fascinating. I also love my mask classes they are a huge hit as they are easy and quick to do.”

There has been a recent rise in art classes around the region where friends are getting together to share in an evening of painting. Paverpol Niagara offers an entirely different set of experiences with its unique art form. Pat Ferguson began taking Paverpol classes with Tamara in the fall of 2014 after seeing the art at a show in Toronto. “When I first saw Paverpol, it blew my mind. I absolutely loved the beautiful creations. I was in awe and found that each piece is truly original,” states Ferguson, who wasso enthralled with the artwork that she frequented the booth several times for information about classes.

Six months later, Ferguson, who would not describe herself as an artist, was taking classes with Paverpol Niagara.

“What a life-changing experience!  My first class was met with a fun and motivating instructor, and other excited students,” she says. Ferguson enjoyed the first experience so much that she continued to take Paverpol classes until she was comfortable creating her own pieces of art. “Tamara has a natural talent for inspiring others in creating personal masterpieces. I gained the confidence to produce my very own 24 inch by 48 inch masterpiece,” says Ferguson.

“Her personality is so well suited in teaching Paverpol, which makes me hooked. No two creations are the same, and Tamara is always on standby should you experience difficulties or mental blocks, whether in the class or outside of business,” states Ferguson. That’s what I love about her and her classes. I wouldn’t go anywhere else!” concludes Ferguson.

Paverpol classes range in price from a two-hour mask class for $30 to a one-day heron or garden angel class for $190. “With the heron classes there is a 48 hour drying period and then the participants return on another day for an additional 30 minutes,” explains Plugers. New to the spring will be an owl class where participants can create two smaller owls or one larger owl for $55. Paverpol sculptures and masks are not only reasonable in price, but timeless. “What really stands out is the ability it has to withstand the temperatures,” says Plugers.

As an artist, Plugers finds inspiration when she is reading. “Often I can capture an image in my head from the words. I love taking the words and creating a piece from that,” notes Plugers.

Along with selling her art at her studio and craft shows, Plugers often is asked to create specific pieces for clients. “I made two pieces of art for a grief counsellor depicting different stages of grief. I am currently working on the third one in the set,” she explains. Plugers isn’t the only one who receives special requests for Paverpol artwork; her clients do too. “When my family and friends saw what I had made, almost everyone asked me to make them one. Since then I have made six herons at home for family or friends,” says Nina Leroux, who has been taking classes with Tamara for two years. “My brother says Tamara has brought out the inner artist in me,” adds Leroux.

Plugers admits that her personal style of art is constantly evolving and at the moment, she is exploring more abstract pieces. “Eventually I want to try airbrushing my sculptures. It would give a totally different look,” she says.

Whether you’re the artist looking to expand your creativity or a beginner ready to design a piece of art, Paverpol has something original to offer men and women of all ages and abilities. “I have instructed children as young as six for a mask class and I’ve taught an 88 year old woman to make a heron,” reveals Plugers. “I love teaching the Paverpol technique. I love seeing the looks on their faces when they walk out with something they are proud of and have the bragging rights to.”

Look for Tamara and Paverpol Niagara at the Handmade Market located at the 13th Street Winery on May 7th and 8th, 2016, and the Grimsby Art Fest on June 4th, 2016. In August, Paverpol Niagara will be at the Art by the Lighthouse in Niagara-on-the-Lake. For more information visit paverpolniagara.com