If there seems to be a familiar face in the crowd of fabric figurines by Miscouche artist Sophie Lafrance there’s a good reason for that.
© Mary MacKay/TC Media
Whether it’s a biker in a bar, a Father of Confederation figure or a backpacking traveller, Miscouche artist Sophie Lefrance uses polymer clay, wire, foil and fabric and special Paverpol glue as the basis for her funky forms.
Ever since she began crafting Paverpol sculptures with her own specially made caricature craniums from polymer clay she’s been scouting about for new and interesting facial features.
“Since I’ve been doing this I really look at people’s faces and features … and people sometimes they catch me doing it,” laughs Lafrance.
“I’m at the (Summerside Farmers) Market and I’m sitting there looking at the person, going, ‘Oh wow!’ Because when I make the head I’m trying to change them all the time.”
This P.E.I. artisan, who will be one of many at the upcoming P.E.I. Craft Council’s 49th annual Christmas Craft Fair on Nov. 8 to 10 at the Confederation Centre of the Arts in Charlottetown, started experimenting with Paverpol sculptures about two years ago after she saw pieces at a P.E.I. craft show.
“I had always done all kinds of things (craft-wise before) but never in three dimension. So I thought it would be so nice to be able to do little people in three dimension. That’s what inspired me to get going and start making them,” she says.
So she decided to take the Paverpol teacher’s course from Dina Blot at Meadowbrook Arts, Crafts & Creations in Crapaud.
“Most people call it Paverpol but that’s the brand name of the glue,” says Lafrance, who then started her own series of classes, FAME (Fabric Art Made Easy) Paverpol.
“After I had this course I said I have to find a way to make some heads so I started to research on the Internet and read about it and now I’m making the faces as well.”
Lafrance also has branched out to include special order pieces for occasions such as retirements, anniversaries and birthdays.
“I do commissioned work so someone will come up to me and say I want an architect, then I will make the architect. I basically made the table with all the glass and the stool, the little rolled up plans with the little elastic on the corner. So I do things like that,” she says.
Lafrance’s fabric figures are fashioned from wire and the bodies filled out with aluminum foil. From there she wraps the figure in fabric, which is often recycled material and preferably 100 per cent cotton.
“From there I dress them up and I do the accessories,” Lafrance says of Paverpol pieces that, when completed, are weatherproof so can be used as garden art as well.
“I like to put more and more detail in the pieces that I’m making. I try to make all the accessories myself. I don’t buy them. I make them from scratch.”
Lafrance was part of a three-person exhibit, From T-Shirts to Garden Art, at Eptek Art & Culture Centre in Summerside this spring, which also included Blot and Carol Karr.
“I’m doing a lot of custom work too so I’m doing very unique pieces that have been made that are now gone, it’s almost hard to part with them,” she says.
“It’s a conversation piece, basically. In my mind hopefully one day I’ll be able to build a little village, so it would have the different people and trades. It’s one of my goals.”