Frolicking Gophers & Mama and Baby Owls

Noella Cotnam begins her sculptures slowly and thoughtfully. She learns about each animal, researching their size, facial expressions, and the appearance of their bodies in motion. Once she has a sense of her subject, she begins to carve.

For the gophers and owls at Farmers & Distillers, she outlined their profiles onto large foam blocks before using a hot wire “harp” to carefully remove the excess foam. She then cut away at the foam in search of the animal hidden within. She refined every detail with a fillet knife before adding a clear coat of glossy paint. “I absolutely love carving! Every terrifying, achy, sometimes bloody, yet always wondrous, moment of the process.” Always a personal experience, Cotnam delivers each of her designs in person, driving them down the East Coast from Ontario to establish them in their new home.

“I really love the experience of watching these creatures come to life,” said Cotnam. “In some ways, they begin to feel like family when I am making them. It feels important for me to bring them to their new home. It’s also a nice opportunity for me to see how they fit into their new environment.”

img_0509%5b2%5dNoella Cotnam has sculpted animals for each of our restaurants, all serving as welcoming, prominent figures in our spaces. As such, Cotnam’s lamb and pig can be found in Founding Farmers DC, her ram and sheepdog designs are featured in Moco’s Founding Farmers, a cow and goat live at Farmers Fishers Bakers, while her whimsical duck and bear reside at Founding Farmers Tysons.

Noella Cotnam is a sculptor, sign designer, illustrator, mural painter, carver, furniture maker, and mechanical draftsman. In 1982, she started her sign company, Sign It (and farmsigns.com), out of the summer kitchen of a century-old farmhouse north of Williamstown, Ontario. Signs produced by Cotnam can be found the world-over, from Guam and Beirut to Greece, England, and Washington, D.C. Cotnam says she is a country girl at heart. Her first clients were farmers, and her partnership with Farmers Restaurant Group continues a long-standing connection with the agricultural community.noella_01_for-banner-1

Title: Frolicking Gophers, Mama and Baby Owls
Date: 2016
Medium: Carved Foam with Acrylic and Clear Coat
Location in Restaurant: Tree House & Dining Room
Website: Sign it, Farm Signs
Social Media: Facebook

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