Over the course of her illustrious career, artist Lisa Lichtenfels has perfectly illustrated what it means to work with boundless scope. After graduating from the Philadelphia College of Art, she scored every budding artist’s dream gig of working as an apprentice animator with Disney.
While working with some of the best creators in the business, Lichtenfels developed a keen interest in creating stop-motion figures, which is arguably one of the most meticulous methods of all. From there, her fascination grew into a sculptural career of epic (and life-sized) proportions.
With heavy felt, nylon, and wire, this artist brings realistic sculptures to life.
Realism collides with fantasy in her Massachusetts-based studio. She continually experiments with form and function by breathing life into impressively varied subjects. Many of her creations are life-sized models.
The process begins with the creation of a movable wire skeleton.
Yarn is then wrapped tightly around each figure, and the entire model is shaped with heavy layers of white felt.
“I try to use materials that are similar in density and character to the corresponding parts of the human body,” she writes.
“Where muscles need to be flexible, I will use elastic fabric, but for all other areas I use batting. . . . When sewn onto the bones [batting] has much the same feeling as muscle tissue.”
Lichtenfels uses a material called fiberfill to build fatty tissues, since it behaves similarly.
To mimic the texture and behavior of skin, she uses nylon.
Features like folds and wrinkles are sewn in with clear thread.
Noses, eyelids, and lips are supported by copper scaffolding. The resulting sculptures are emotive, relatable, identifiable, and full of life.
When she started exploring this technique, Lichtenfels thought that she’d return to animation after a year or so. Over two decades later, she’s still at it, and the artist believes that she has so much more to learn about the craft.
To learn more about Lisa Lichtenfels, be sure to check out her website.