updated 03/08/1982 AT 01:00 AM EST
•originally published 03/08/1982 AT 01:00 AM EST
Heather Soderberg was all of 2 when she astounded her father, sculptor John Soderberg, with her first work, an inch-high group of five women done in wax. Soderberg cast his daughter's work in bronze and entered it in a competition against sixth graders. Five Women took first place and earned its precocious creator her first astonished critical praise. Now 6, the young artist, whose oeuvre is displayed at the West Side Gallery in Phoenix, Ariz., has produced 250 sculptures with themes ranging from The Flying Dragon (far right) to The French Mountain Man (right). Seventy-six pieces from her collection have been sold at prices from $65 to $150. Through a twist of fate, the value of Heather's work was enhanced by a fire last September that destroyed the Soderberg home and studio. Only one of Heather's molds was saved, The French Mountain Man. As a result, The Flying Dragon, which gallery owner Ruth Magadini bought for $75 only last fall, is now a unique piece worth $800. A first grader at Sechrist Elementary School, Heather keeps a $1,500 bank account, signs checks and picks up the tab for such luxuries as a new bicycle and a family trip to McDonald's. "When I get bigger," says Heather, "I'm going to still be an artist. I'm going to stop when I die, and that will be a long time from now."