Artists need a niche, and Angela Neely has found hers. The BYU-Idaho art student specializes in small dragon sculptures that have charmed thousands of buyers.
Neely began sculpting as a child. She transitioned from mud to playdough, and then from playdough to polymer clay when she was eight. It didn’t take long for her to recognize a business opportunity.
“I actually sold my first little polymer clay dragon on the playground in the fifth grade,” Neely said. “And I got busted by the lunch lady. She told me that I couldn’t sell it there because kids weren’t buying their lunch, they were buying my little dragons.”
Neely has continued using polymer clay. However, a lot has changed. Demand has grown, and Neely has sold thousands on Etsy.com and through art expos. Soon, Carmendees Dragons will be available in store at The Handmade Idaho Shop.
Although balancing her business and school can be challenging, Neely finds satisfaction in her work.
“I get little notes and things from customers about how I made that engagement wonderful with this one precious little item that was customized for their partner or how I made somebody’s birthday just amazing,” Neely said.
Neely is grateful for the education she has gained at BYU-Idaho. She hopes to eventually teach and encourage other artists in the way her teachers have.
“A lot of people say it’s hard, and it is,” Neely said. “But if you love it… enough to make the sacrifices to make it great… then it’ll work.”
To view Neely’s art, search for Carmendee Dragons on Instagram, Facebook or Etsy.