French Shore ‘renaissance lady’ taps into artistic mayhem at BedlamCats Studio
LAURA CHURCHILL DUKE
Editor's Note The “Makers” feature is a weekly look at Atlantic Canadian entrepreneurs who are tapping into the creative marketplace. If you know of a local, creative business owner that should be featured email: Jennifer.little@ saltwire.com . To read more “Makers” features, visit: saltwire.com Susan Pfeiffer has always attempted to take the ideas and concepts in her head and reproduce them as art. And though her art journey, she’s been able to do just that. “I have always felt the need to create and be creative.” Pfeiffer considers herself a renaissance lady. “I have skills with a number of mediums and shake my hand at time and my desire to learn more, with dwindling resources,” she says. About four years ago, Pfeiffer relocated to Meteghan Centre on the French Shore in Nova Scotia from the Halifax area, saying it was her best decision ever. Here, she operates The Artistic Mayhem of Susan Pfeiffer out of the BedlamCats Studio where she currently creates her ‘whimseys’ and other works from wool felt, glass beads and interesting items. “I’ve always been in the art business in some form or other,” says Pfeiffer, noting she purposefully moved to the French Shore with the idea of setting up a studio, home gallery and to eventually retire to focus on art. Pfeiffer has a strong artistic foundation and background. It started with a degree in classical art from Mt. Allison University, followed by a degree as a certified costumier from Dalhousie University and a classical animation diploma from Sheridan College. Basically, Pfeiffer has spent almost her entire life in the pursuit and execution of art. Outside of allowing her creativity flow, she says she never had a specific long-term goal when it came to her art. Her grandfather was a landscape painter, grand uncle a sculptor, and she had an aunt skilled in ceramics. This meant she was supported and encouraged at home and by her family. “I have always wanted to be accomplished enough to earn a living from doing what I love,” she says. Through her career with art, Pfeiffer says she has witnessed many changes. She says she “was around to experience the new tsunami of the internet, washing over us and changing the landscape. Print media no longer was the most effective way to deliver information, and so we adapt and change to suit.” These days, she says an online presence is part of how she engages with people who like the work she does. When creating, Pfeiffer makes her own patterns, then makes constant revisions and has lists and doodles of possible new works. She also follows a number of artists on Instagram in a variety of mediums. For further inspiration, she enjoys listening to music or a good book on tape. “Inspiration is all around you. I do some of my best work in the car or in the bathroom,” she says. There are so many aspects to creating a piece of art — some of which are better than others. Overall, Pfeiffer says she hates to sew. Or rather, finds it one of the more annoying tasks. When she creates her Whimseys, she says she weirdly enjoys the fiddly hand stitching that is involved, saying it is relaxing and enjoyable. For her, it’s about seeing a new pattern work out without a lot of messing about. These patterns take a long time to create. If she works on a pattern too long, she puts it away for a while. “There is no rush to get it finished, but it is a challenge,” she says. “I also need to set daily goals so I get everything I need to do, as I can be a huge procrastinator.” One of her most loved stories about her art concerns a polar bear. Pfeiffer says she has a lovely pattern of a polar bear, which makes an amazing canvas for a lot of her ideas. A gentleman from Winnipeg purchased one of her Acadian Bears in Digby and reached out to see if she could make a Metis bear to pair with it. It turned out lovely, she says, noting his daughter, who works for the Manitoba Metis Federation, took the first one so Pfeiffer ended up making another one for him. Besides her bears, Pfeiffer says some of her most popular creations over the past few years have been her plague doctors. Overall, she says her Cheshire Cat whimseys are the most popular. “They are so colourful and fun and weird, with a head that spins 360 degrees,” she says. When not working on art, Pfeiffer says she is working. She wished she could be a full-time artist, and it is a goal of hers. In the meantime, she has spent the past summer as a visitor service clerk at the western branch of the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. In the future, Pfeiffer would like to develop a creative studio gallery at her house. Here, there will be space to set up her animation table, and perhaps have time and space to work on a new illustration or painting. She has a cutting table and storage solution to put together, and she still needs to set up a sewing machine and serger. She has plans to make and embellish clothes for herself and her husband. Pfeiffer wants to learn tatting and lace making but is not sure if she will have enough time, so that is on the back burner. She also has an epic costume idea she has been collecting supplies for. It’s a gender bending period piece, she says. Pfeiffer also has a new-toher loom she needs to learn how to set up. Then, she can create unique felted material to create her whimseys with. “There are just too many things that interest me,” she says. She would love to do more custom work, and even has a memorial dog whimsey she is currently working on. Anyone interested in a custom order can reach out to Pfeiffer directly through email at bedlamcatsstudio@ gmail.com. Anyone interested in viewing or purchasing something from Bedlam Cats Studio, can do so through her website at https://bedlamcats. com. On both her website and Facebook page, there is an event section that list her upcoming shows and places that carry her work. “I’m always looking for shops with unique content that might like to show my whimseys as my work is best seen in person,” she says.