La Grande Wheel, at the Arizona State Fair, is the largest transportable Ferris wheel in the world. It stretches 130 feet high.

(Special to the Tribune) La Grande Wheel, at the Arizona State Fair, is the largest transportable Ferris wheel in the world. It stretches 130 feet high.

Special to the Tribune

Tamiko Azuma would have described her son, Sam Goldinger, as shy and quiet five years ago. He had very little interest in performing or showing off his artwork.

But that was before he entered his artwork in the Arizona State Fair and demonstrated his ability to fashion animals and bugs out of foil. His whole persona has changed thanks to the fair, which opens Friday, Oct. 6.

“These demonstrations that he did at the State Fair really boosted his confidence,” said Azuma, who lives in Gilbert with her fellow ASU professor husband, Steve Goldinger. “He started in the home arts division in 2015, and in 2016 he demonstrated in the fine arts building.”

This fall, the 18-year-old Chandler Preparatory Academy student is widening his scope by exhibiting a painting inspired by the film “Kubo and the Two Strings,” and a papier-mache sculpture of a dragon at the fair.

“I’ve always had creative tendencies,” Goldinger said. “One of my big artforms is foil sculpting. I made little paper people, action figures to mess around with. But paper was a terrible medium. They would fall apart and I would have to use tape to hold them together. So, I made them out of foil instead.”

He challenges himself by creating a variety of foil creatures. Goldinger, who is applying to study marine biology or environmental science at universities in Arizona and California, admitted he is fascinated with dragons. He agreed with his mother that demonstrating at the fair helped him.

“I learned a lot about showmanship,” Goldinger said. “I learned how to talk with other people and share the same story, but make it slightly different. That’s very important for making presentations in the scientific community. It will improve the quality of what I do.”

He prefers to make larger foil sculptures but understands that sometimes he has to create smaller ones because they take up less space.

“The larger ones are incredibly fragile,” Goldinger said. “Plus, I cannot demonstrate the larger ones at the fair. I taught myself how to make smaller and smaller versions of them, so the audience will find the demonstration interesting. I need to make sure they don’t look shabby, compared to the other things I’ve built.

“Believe me, foil sculpting is a relatively quick medium, compared to painting and papier-mache. The big dragons take a few hours. One that I made took the entirety of my summer vacation.”

Azuma is thankful for her son’s time at the fair.

“Now he’s been doing workshops at the Chandler Public Libraries,” she said. “He’s also been doing these demonstrations for the elementary school that’s connected to his school. He has a lot more confidence in his ability to present. He’s creative and I’m proud of him.”

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