Welcome to my website! My name is Barbie Sonnett. I'm a lifelong artist, horsewoman and animal lover and my passion and fulltime career is creating one-of-a-kind whimsical animal sculpture from ceramic clay.
I was lucky enough to fulfill a childhood dream of raising a family and horses on a working farm, thanks to my wonderfully indulgent and supportive husband. It was there, amidst an ever-changing menagerie of animals that I discovered my love of sculpting them in clay. It became my fulltime avocation and remains so, some 30 years later. I have created almost every animal at one time or another, but my very favorite themes revolve around horses, foxhunting and Pembroke Welsh Corgis.
When I was ready to begin selling my work in 1982 I picked a market connected to my world, the annual Washington International Horse Show where I sold my sculpture exclusively for the next 21 years. We have now sold our farm of 33 years and moved with our Corgi to a "new" old home we completely remodeled in Upper Marlboro MD. In my wonderful new studio, I continue to work with clay every chance I get and am currently offering my original sculpture for sale on eBay auctions.
For more of a biography and a different perspective, please see the link below to The Chronicle of the Horse's feature article about me, "Barbie Sonnett is the Santa Claus of Washington." Thanks for your interest!
Articles and Recognition
Over the years I have enjoyed having my sculpture be the subject of magazine and newspaper articles in Horseplay Magazine, The Maryland Horse, The Washington Post Home Section, and The Chronicle of the Horse.
Horseplay Magazine—November 1985
The Maryland Horse—August 1990
The Washington Post—November 14, 1991
My sculpture has appeared on several covers of The Chronicle of the Horse and been featured in its subscription and Gift Mart advertising—December 1998 and June 2001
In the December 1999 Chronicle Christmas Issue, I was the subject of the feature article: "Barbie Sonnett is the Santa Claus of Washington."
Frequently Asked Questions
How are your sculptures made?
My medium is ceramic clay, sculpted and fired in my studio. I make each animal, accessory and decorative element individually by hand—no two are ever the same, though similar themes may be repeated.
Each completed piece, from the smallest mini to the largest scenes that can include dozens of animals and components, is truly one-of-a-kind. Turning my art into lamps for functionality as well as beauty has been one of my specialties.
How long does it take you?
This is probably my most asked question and it's difficult to answer precisely. Working with clay, especially when trying to achieve great detail, is quite tedious and exacting. Of course, it is just that challenge that I most enjoy!
There are many steps involved in the creation of each piece—sculpting, drying, painting, glazing, firings. It is virtually impossible to calculate the time spent on one piece when working simultaneously on multiple creations in varying stages of completion.
In addition, I have always opted for quality over quantity. I spend an amazing amount of time perfecting details. This, of course, puts quite a limitation on the number of pieces I do each year.
Where do you get your ideas?
These come quite easily from my everyday involvement with the animal world. I jot ideas down in notebooks and I will never get to them all. Although I repeat themes in varying ways, I am constantly drawn to that which has never been done. Innovation is the most fun of them all!
Do you do custom orders?
I had to stop taking custom orders years ago because I couldn't keep up with them and also do the work that is expected for my show. I now only do the occasional large commission, like a complex theme lamp, but hopefully sometime in the future to be able to do more.