As you drive down Bruynswick Road from Lombardi’s, watch out for a lawn with a careening car, painted on a door. Here is the home and workshop of Craig and Pamela Booth, ceramicists extraordinaire who have created a world-wide business making small replicas of people’s automobiles, the fancier the better. Welcome to the international headquarters of Car-Toons by Booth.
When your passion becomes your life’s work, you are lucky indeed. Forty-five years ago, when they met in New Jersey, Pam, an artist in metal, encouraged Craig, an automobile nut, to take a pottery class. And that was that. They also fell in love with the Shawangunk Valley, moving here in the 1980s and building their home and studio in Gardiner in 1998.
One subject dominates their lives and their art. There is nothing they don’t know about cars — from vintage models to jalopies — and when not making their classic small sculptures of cars they can be found on the road at car fairs or car museums, meeting their clients and admiring, yes, their cars. Invention and whimsy typify a Booth ceramic car.
Made to order, each piece is typically about a foot long. The model and color are shown to perfection, and could include the owner in the driver’s seat, or a blonde in the rumble seat, or a dog romping alongside. Or perhaps you’d like a wall piece that shows your car with racing flags or rounding a curve in a Prix de France town. Or a full set of six-inch cars for your dining table. The Booths can accommodate your fancy.
And not only for cars. A visit to their studio reveals many more ingenious and whimsical ideas-in-clay on display, at many different scales. They make fire-breathing aroma dragons (you add the incense smoke) and mugs (double-meaning) of pilots. In a more serious and elegant vein, Pam Booth models 24-inch replicas of brides in their bridal gowns in high-fired white clay. If you can imagine it, they can probably make it for you.
You can see more of the Booths’ work, by going to www.cartoonsbybooth.net and arranging a visit.