Teddy bear artists interviews
Robin Folley, bear and doll artist
"Oursement V˘tre" is proud to bring you the exclusive interview of talented american artist Robin Foley, whose work has been featured in "Tribute to teddy bear artists series 2" and "Designing the Doll" as well as in numerous bears and dolls magazines.
When did you begin making bears, and how did the story start ?
"I began bear making while I was expecting my daughter. I was an commercial illustrator at that time for several corporations. The doctor told me I should rest more and work less. I wanted to prepare things for my baby so I tried to make a teddy bear for her.
I had no idea that there were patterns availble or anything else about the 'bear world'. Needless to say the attempt was a little sad. But I did find a shop in town that taught classes and I managed to make a wonderful bear before my daughter was born."
Since there is no "Bear School", would you please tell us more about your background ?
"I have an Art degree from the University Of Oregon (USA). I wanted to try Soft sculpture while I was at university but the head of the Sculpture department said "It's not a serious medium. If you want to sculpture use something else. If you want to use fabrics then go to the Weaving department." So, I went off to the weaving dept. and studied textiles and dyeing. I made painted silk clothing for a while, but moved on to Illustration after college. I always wanted to go back and try sculpture again. Now I have my chance."
Is there a particular bear or animal size which you prefer to work with ?
"I like to work from about 14 inches (36 cm) to life size depending on the animal or figure."
Do you think it is nowadays possible to explore new paths in bearmaking ?
"Yes! I am now doing a series of bears that are very realistic and are built on wire skeletons. They are all one-of-a-kinds and built with a method simular to the one I use for my doll making. All the muscles are built on to the frame and then I "skin it" with nylons, then I apply the fur and details. These will be available about August 10 and will be featured on my web site also."
Does a new bear come as an "instantaneous" idea or is he the result of a slowly developing process ?
"It happens to me both ways. Some animals are ideas for a long time and then it is just time to make them. Others are not so easy and take me quite a lot of work to bring to life. With the dolls it takes me hundreds of hours for each figure."
At this time, do you feel more "fur animal" or "doll" oriented in your creations ?
"I divide my time almost equally between the two. While I am working on one I am always thinking of the next piece I will do. It gives me a nice change of pace to go back and forth . But, if I had to pick today, I guess I would say dolls. It is much harder to get Art Galleries to exhibit the animals as art work." (From the editor : It's the same in France !)
With the classes you give, is it not too difficult to spare enough time for creation ?
"Who of us ever has enough time. At this point in my life, I feel the need to train others and be supportive. Since there is no university to go to for training it is up to those who have master their craft to apprentice other and help them on their path. Being born with the talent is a gift, but one needs training to use the gift to its full extent."
What would be your next project (without giving away a secret of course ;-) ?
"The New Soft Sculpture series of realistic bears. "Gone Fishin' " is the first expamle of this new style I have developed. There will be several more pieces in the series."
And finally, a few words for french peoples ;-) ?
"I can not wait to come back and visit your country. Everytime I travel through France I come home with so many great ideas. After I tour the Loire Valley I came up with my bear of "Joan-de-Arc". After a trip to Mont Saint-Michel I came up with my Gabriel which is based upon a statue of St.Michel I saw in a chapel there. I have many ideas for dolls on French figure from history also....but never enough time for all of it. I look forward to returning to France to visit our family there again soon (Bonjour Annie!)."
(From the editors : You will be welcomed ! ;-)
Merci beaucoup (Thank you very much) !
Discover Robin Foley's creations on her website www.robinfoley.com.