Updated: Jul 7
For many of us Dads finding time to relax and do something for ourselves is hard. Some of you single dads will know what I mean. But taking time out to follow your interests, do hobbies or play sports can literally make you a better dad to your children. Someone who realized this is Carlo Rocuzzi, a successful executive and active dad to 2 lovely daughters. Carlo is an artist who sculpts and forms Pop, Movie & Television Characters from Polymer Clay. His creations are growing in popularity & even become a supplement to his income.
How did you discover this unique hobby?
The older your children get the more new things they introduce you to. In the case of CarloCreates and how that got started, one of the craft activities at my eldest daughter's birthday party was for the children to make something out of clay and then bake it in the oven. I've always enjoyed building models and making miniature scenes myself, so as I watched them having fun with the clay I couldn't resist sitting down and having a go myself - i was hooked immediately. My first figurine was a dodgy looking Harry Potter but I didn't care how it looked, I just had so much fun making it I couldn't wait to try more.
Can you tell us more about what you do, what are the figures made of? What is your process, how long does it take?
I make miniature figurines and dioramas (scenes) out of polymer clay and other craft materials. I typically begin by making something or someone of interest to me (movie characters for example) and posting it on my Instagram page for others to enjoy. Each idea begins as a sketch, which helps to plan the order of how the character will be made taking into account layers of clothes, belts, weapons, accessories etc. A single figurine can take 10-12 hours to make depending on the level of detail. I tend to push myself harder each time I start a new creation to try a new texture, or achieve a new skill that I haven't used before. I've recently discovered crystal resin and moulds and am starting to play around with making my own items from scratch in 1:12 scale.
At what point did you realize that you could monetize your hobby to supplement your income?
It just sort of happened by chance. I've never been a fan of store bought nativity scenes as they are either too expensive, too traditional or too cheap (I am fussy!). So I decided to make my own set and once completed I posted it on Facebook for my friends to see (just for fun). Before long people were asking me to make one for them, and some offered to pay. The rest is history I guess.The key thing for me with CarloCreates is to remember why I started making things in the first place, which is because I simply enjoy making things. If ever it becomes a job rather than a hobby, I know it's time to take a break. This year I have taken a bit of a break from making things for resale, and focussed on making things for me, just to practice new skills but also to stay relaxed and enjoy what I am doing firstly. The orders will come later (I hope).
Who is your typical customer?
They vary from sci-fi geeks ordering their favourite cult character, to couples ordering wedding toppers for their wedding cakes. I accept custom orders so I constantly have requests to make something new or unique items which is great because I hate making the same thing twice. Once I've made it I don't enjoy making it again for a repeat order.
The #ProDads series has a focus on encouraging our daddy readers with real life stories of fathers who're making it happen in their careers while also doing a good job parenting. How important is being creative to you as a parent - how does it make you a better dad?
If you had to ask my 15 year old self what I wanted to be when I grow older, I am pretty sure I would not have said anything remotely near to what I actually do for a living now. I really enjoy my day job and I have become pretty good at it (I hope my boss thinks so too) but, my heart always yearns to be creative and therefore, instead of being miserable that I am not a Hollywood set designer or creator of film miniatures (my dream job), my hobby is where I get to live out my passion. It brings balance to my life in that I work hard, parent hard, and then play hard through my creative hobbies. Does this make me a better dad? Yes I believe it does because to me a balanced lifestyle sets an example for my girls to see that you can work hard at your job, earn a good living with a successful career, but still make time for the other areas of your life that are important to you like family, and yourself.
My hobby desk is small, but when I am sitting in front of it making something, it's my time to relax, unwind and just take my focus away from life's daily stresses. It calms me down, and in turn allows me to be a better Dad simply because I am a happier person inside. Making time for yourself to do something you enjoy cannot be underestimated.
What advice do you have for dads out there who are needing a push to pursue their interests and hobbies. I would say that if you haven't been able to find the motivation to start a hobby then you should start one today.
Don't procrastinate. I sometimes get stuck in a rut of finding excuses to not work on my hobby ("I'm too tired" or "I need to get this tool or that clay before I can start"), but they're just excuses. Take that first step and let the bug bite and you'll see how much easier it gets from there.
TV is a hobby-killer. Once you sit down in front of it you will find it difficult to get up and work on a hobby because the TV provides entertainment without any effort from you while a hobby becomes entertaining only when you're putting in the effort!
If you've started a hobby and then stopped for any reason you should pick it up again. Don't focus on what other people are doing, or how good someone else might appear to be at their hobby because your end goal should be first and foremost to have fun, doing something you enjoy. Once you're having fun, you'll find it easier to get better at what you're doing and take it to the next level (if you want to). Remember, as Dads we are all at different phases of the parenting cycle, some with infants, some with toddlers, some with teens so we all have different amounts of free time available. Don't beat yourself up if you've struggled to make time for your hobby because your little one needs you.
Free time increases the older your children get and as they become more independent. Steal little moments for yourself when you can, even just a few minutes and do something you enjoy. You deserve it!