Archive for the ‘sculpture’ Category

Sculptor in the Forest

June 28, 2011

Idyllwild Sculptor Jan Jaspers-Fayer and his butterfly sphere

By Marcia E. Gawecki

When he arrived in California from Amsterdam after WWII, sculptor Jan Jaspers-Fayer took a job in a glass factory. At the time, it helped pay the bills for his growing family. Later, the thick glass that he worked with made its way into his steel sculptures that adorn his steep back yard in Idyllwild. In the spring and summer, garden clubs, schools and other groups enjoy touring his Idyllwild Sculpture Garden.

Many of the sculptures featured in the garden are his older works, such as the old man, that measures 12 feet high and is made from forged steel. It must be 15 years old now, but just as beautiful as the day it was cut from the same steel plate.

“There’s no title, just an old man,” said Jaspers-Fayer, 82.

In the back of his sculpture garden, a large steel-and-glass sculpture catches the sunlight and reflects a prism of colors onto the ground.

“That’s the glass that I used to work with,” Jaspers-Fayer explained. “Diachronic glass is hard to cut, so I end up breaking it in pieces, and then sanding the edges.”

Over the years, Jaspers-Fayer has created many stained-glass images with diachronic glass, including one at the Episcopal Church in Idyllwild.

Jan Jaspers-Fayer with another large sculpture in his garden

However, the new sculptural creation that he’s excited about doesn’t have any glass in it at all. It’s a large wire sphere made up of interconnecting images. His artist’s prototype hanging from a large oak tree in his backyard is comprised of 12 butterflies. The sphere has about a 15-inch radius.

“I can make these spheres any size,” Jaspers-Fayer said. “Some people like them larger for outside in the garden, or smaller, to hang on your porch.”

Other art sphere themes that he’s working on include: acrobats, flowers, and birds.  Since he lives among nature in Idyllwild, Jaspers-Fayer often draws from nature for many of his sculptures, paintings and prints that decorate his home and area galleries.

To make the spheres, Jaspers-Fayer first draws the image out by hand on cardstock. He then cuts them out and tapes them together. After close inspection, he’s ready to move from cardboard to making the metal spheres. The pieces are cut out of a sheet of metal with an electric saw and then powder-coated paint is applied for long-lasting durability. Jaspers-Fayer said that he previously painted them with acrylic paint, but found that powder coating (which chemically bonds paint to metal) had more vibrant colors that worked best for his images.

Close up of Jan's butterfly sphere

Jaspers-Fayer said that his art spheres are also easy to disassemble and transport.

“They arrive in pieces, but anyone can put them together with a screwdriver,” he said.

Sphere prices range from $1800 on up, depending upon the size. Already several are on back order, and more came after his May show at Honey Bunns and Joe Bakery in Idyllwild.

For more information on Jaspers-Fayer’s artwork or for a free group tour of his Idyllwild Sculpture Garden, call (951) 659-5240 or visit

Copyright 2011 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

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Darwin’s Interior ‘Magic Tree’

January 8, 2011

By Marcia E. Gawecki

Darwin, an Idyllwild sculptor, is not one to shy away from large art projects. His giant cowboy hat, which sets on top of Wooley’s, is testament to that.

Darwin points to a large tree that he built for an Idyllwild toy shop

“C’mon, you’ve got to see my tree,” said Darwin to friends standing outside Higher Grounds.

He lead them around the corner to a toy store. They looked up and gasped, “Wow, that’s beautiful!”

Inside, Darwin had created a life-sized tree with a large trunk and several limbs that stretched across the high ceiling.

“My kids call it, ‘The Magic Tree,'” said Julie Fourroux, one of the owners.

The idea of having an interior tree sprung from a need to do something with an odd corner, Julie said. The toy shop stands in the former location of the Idyllwild Chamber of Commerce and the Idyllwild Realty office.

“A wall had been knocked down to create more space,” Julie explained. “But there was this odd corner where the former entryway used to be. We just had to do something about it.”

Her husband Chris suggested that they put in a natural tree trunk called a “wrap,” similar to the posts holding up the porch outside. Then Julie suggested an entire tree, and Darwin, who had been standing there, said that he’d like to build them one.

Looking up, the manzanita limbs and branches are spectacular

For nearly a month, Darwin set up his workshop inside the toy store. He worked half days from a large table, while his manzanita branch collection stayed outside.

“I found the manzanita limbs up in the high country,” Darwin said.

He sanded them down and added clear varnish, showing their natural dark red color. The rest of the tree was constructed from everyday materials, including chicken wire, paper mache, large carpet tubes, paint, and varnish.

Darwin knew, after creating a giant hat for Wooley’s, that sound construction was key. (See ‘Hats Off to an Idyllwild Artist,” an Idyllwild Me  blog post dated March 2, 2010) Because large sculptures like these are only as good as they can last.

Darwin’s Wooley’s hat had to withstand Idyllwild’s extreme weather conditions, such as snow, rain and wind. At least, The Magic Tree was inside the toy shop, and only needed to be securely mounted. However, it stood over 15 feet tall and weighs about 300 pounds.

Darwin, the artist, next to The Magic Tree

When Darwin was forming the chicken wire, and before adding the paper mache, Chris mounted some electrical equipment inside. The equipment would be the energy source for the twinkling lights on the branches above.

“The tree is heavily mounted to the wall,” said Julie reassuringly. “It’s not coming down.”

However, to deter teens and children from trying to climb it, they put up a sign.

“So far, everyone’s been respectful,” Julie said.

Teens like it best, Chris added. “They stop at the door, look up and  don’t go any further.

However, the younger ones, look at it briefly and run to the toys, added RJ, the toy store clerk.

To get the texture of the bark on The Magic Tree, Darwin used crumbled up newspaper. Then he added many layers of brown acrylic paint.

“It looked like a chocolate tree,” Darwin said. “I was afraid the kids might peel off the bark and eat it.”

So he toned down the color to a lighter brown, and added lots of glitter, adding to the “magical” feel.

In addition to the twinkling white lights, there are some ornaments, such as birds, hanging from the branches, and little stuffed animals inside the knotholes.

Close up of the manzanita tree branches

“The plan is to add some paper snowflakes, and make it seasonal,” Julie said.

Her mother gave her the idea. She has an inside tree in her home that she decorates with ornaments according to every season, such as Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day.

“We plan to add decorations to the tree, and when there’s no holiday, we’ll just add leaves,” Julie said.

Chris said that they’re pleased with the results and Darwin’s professionalism.

“He does great work,” Chris said. “Have you seen his mountain view sign on the top of the coffee house?”

Copyright 2010 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

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