2020 marked the twentieth anniversary of Rucus Studio. I would never have imagined in my wildest dreams I'd be able to continue making a living doing what I love for this long.
Behind the facade of a rather ordinary home in Southwest Michigan, lies an underground space brimming with unexpected sights that could provide the basis for countless stories. A box of witch heads sits next to a grinning jack-o-lantern. A skeleton attempts to climb out of a violin case while a toad tips his
top hat to say "hello." This mysterious space is actually the basement studio of Scott Smith, creator, and mastermind of Rucus Studio.
Holidays are a year-round affair at Rucus Studio.
Just about any time of the year, you will find Scott sketching ideas for new pieces. Although the cast of characters may be different, the overriding theme of lighthearted fun will show through. His studio is an organized sort of chaos; body parts clustered on the work table, bins overflowing with trims and found objects, and old fabrics somewhat sorted by colors or season. It can be overwhelming for most, but he claims that being amongst all the materials helps to keep the ideas flowing. “I work slow and easily fall prey to losing myself in the smallest of details in hopes of revealing a character's story."
Each new work begins with a simple sketch. Original sculpts are generally created in polymer clay to capture details. New ideas often emerge during this process resulting in new unexpected and curious characters.
Once satisfied with the sculpt, Scott creates a mold. "I enjoy using molds because I can cast several pieces in paper-mache and rework them as needed to give each one its own unique look."
Pieces begin to come to life after many layers and subtle washes of acrylic paint. An armature is constructed for the body using wood and heavy wire. Cotton batting is wrapped around the armature which gives form to the body. The final step is dressing the figure in a custom-made costume. Smith prefers working with vintage and antique textiles as much as possible.