Fantastic Faces

virginie ropars castle headed 345x450 - Fantastic FacesWhile still off working out the last details of moving the business to California, we’ll continue looking at past posts in the days before the blog, when I was just sharing daily on our Facebook page.

This piece’s popularity surprised me a little. It is not sleek or colorful, might be slightly disturbing, and it’s not jewelry but the artist, Virginie Ropars, is a huge favorite of mine. Here is the post I put up on March 7th, 2012:

Art dolls are an incredible artistic form and this woman is one of my favorites because she goes way beyond just costuming a form … and the dolls are made with polymer clay! Take a look at the incredible detail of the castle that is the top of the head and the neck and chest decor. Stunning! Tons more to look at here:

You can see more of her amazing and imaginative sculpture and dolls, (which have gotten a bit more disturbing as time goes on–just thought I ought to warn you!) on her newer website here but also on her Facebook page.




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Moving into Doll Art

VRopars fall dollI have been wanting to do a week of doll art for some time, but finding work that most of you readers can draw inspiration from is not easy. A lot of doll art is about painting and creating the costumes for the figures created. Those that are mostly polymer, included the clothing and props, are highly sculptural. Although admirable and certain to bring a smile to many a reader’s face, the question was could all you many non-doll makers get as much out of a doll week as a jewelry centric week of posts. Well, I guess we’ll find out now!

Most of my pics will have more than just sculpture and fabric. But, even the fabric, the painting, the forms, composition, lines of the limbs, color palettes and so much more can be immensely inspiring. So, even if you never see yourself making a doll, when you find yourself drawn to one or a particular aspect of it, try to figure out why. And, when you can identify that particular thing you are drawn to ask, “Can that be translated into what I do in polymer?” We are not talking mimicking what you see, but identifying the characteristic you are drawn to and asking yourself if that kind of thing could work well in your work and would you enjoy it?

For instance, this piece has an amazing color palette. Do you feel a connection to these colors and the emotion they emanate? How about the decorative aspect? Do you like the textures and the swirling folds of the fabric? Can you create more movement in the way you shape or fold your clay? Would crowding texture and form like this be something you can see yourself doing in your own way, with your own favored techniques? Of course, you can just sit back and enjoy the amazing talent I hope to share with you.

This, of course, is the renowned mixed medium sculptor Virginie Ropars. Polymer is her primary medium in these pieces, but she also doesn’t limit what she will add to it. Her work truly transcends the mediums she uses. Her pieces are strikingly beautiful and hold a kind of magnetic energy and grace even though they are often a bit frightening and dark. The thing is, beauty is in everything, and so someone, somewhere, will come out and celebrate it, and sometimes, we are in awe in spite of our personal preferences.

More of Virginie’s dark aesthetic can be admired on her webpage here, but if you want a quick overview, drop her name into Google images and be prepared to be a little overwhelmed, but in a very pleasant way, I think.


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Stealing Texture

Sculpture works with all kinds of subtle and not so subtle textures, often both visual and tactile. Fantasy sculpture in particular offers some wonderfully inventive textures that can be pulled or used for inspiration for all kinds of other polymer work, not just sculpture.

There is no authority to say what skin, scales, wings, or anything else on a fantasy figure should look like, so the suppositions of the artist creating them can result in all kinds of fantastical colors, textures, and patterning you might not have seen before or might not expect. I love the effect Celia Harris created on the tail of her young fairy mermaid here, and the wings are quite lovely as well. But such effects don’t need to be relegated to wings and the slick skin of aquatic creatures.



Can you imagine some light earrings with the sheen and maybe even the punched out holes and ragged edges of the wings? The visual texture of the tail would be charming on a pod shaped pendant, or as a contrasting layer of texture on a vase covered in pearl clay.

For tactile texture, I don’t know if there is anyone that works in fantasy sculpture that can quite compare to Virginie Ropars. I really enjoy how well the texture shows without heavy competition with color. The honeycomb of perforations and the flow of sculpted lines on the chest and in the hairline are lovely and translatable to almost any other form, if you find yourself drawn to that kind of texture.



Bottom line: look at the components of sculpture — or any artwork — for inspiration, rather than the whole of a piece, and let your creativity translate it into whatever forms you prefer to work in.

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